Of course, single parents don't have the advantage of choice in this matter -- one income is all she or he has. The financial circumstances of most single parents are very difficult. Many single mothers live on annual incomes of around $15,000. That's tough even for someone who's frugal.

That's why if you're a single parent, or anyone on a very low income, and you are handling your funds the best you can, but still can't cover basic living expenses, you should share your needs with your church. In 2 Corinthians 8:14, the Apostle Paul said, "At the present time your surplus is [available] for their need, so that their abundance may also become [available] for your need, that there may be equality."

You might only need temporary help, so if you have a legitimate need you should feel free to share it with your brothers and sisters in Christ.

Crown Financial Ministries has many volunteer budget counselors who can also help. They're located throughout the country and offer their services at no charge to Christians who want to establish budgets that'll help them get out of debt and honor God with their finances. We really encourage you to call our counseling department at Crown to get this sort of help.

In the tough circumstances of today's economy, low income is a serious difficulty for millions of people. That's why we all need to adopt an "Apostle Paul attitude." He said he knew "how to get along with humble means and how to live in prosperity." The amazing fact is that this was written at a time in Paul's life when, materially, he had nothing.

All local churches need to be more sensitive and proactive in their approaches to single parents and other low-income people in their congregations. If you're living on a low income, then you know it's never an easy situation, but use these suggestions and do what you can. And remember that even when things appear darkest, and it may seem that we are incapable, God is always able.

 Howard Dayton is CEO of Crown Financial Ministries. Dayton and the late Larry Burkett joined forces in 2000 when Crown Ministries led by Dayton merged with Christian Financial Concepts led by Burkett. The new organization became Crown Financial Ministries.

© 2004 Baptist Press.  All rights reserved.  Used with permission.