As I write this, I’m on a plane coming home from a No Debt No Sweat! Christian Money Management Seminar in Montana. The church was filled with sweet, godly people, but many of them were struggling with their money. I was touched by a couple of situations where people felt downright hopeless.

Not to be flip, but I’ve learned quite a bit over the years as I’ve counseled people about their money. I’ve learned that people who are in debt stay in debt for three reasons:

1. They feel hopeless. In truth, they usually are not hopeless. Most people who implement a solid plan can get out of personal debt (not counting their homes) in a one- to four-year period. Granted, there are huge benefits to starting early in life. But if you’re already in your late 40’s, 50’s or older — it’s still not too late to start. Remember, it’s never too late to start doing the right thing. (By the way, in addition to the financial implications in that last comment, there are also profound theological implications. The God we serve is not just the God of the second chance — He’s the God of the ten thousandth chance too).

2. They feel alone. This is where Satan does his best work — he convinces us that we’re the only one with the problem. So, naturally, we’re embarrassed and we try to hide the problem. We put on our masks and pretend like everything is okay. Yet, inside we’re dying. Our spiritual vigor is gone. We’re fighting with our spouses. We don’t have time for the kids. We can’t sleep at night, and we’re depressed.

The truth is, if you’re in debt, you’re not alone. Over 70 percent of all Americans are living from paycheck to paycheck. Many of us are spending 20 percent of our income paying off short-term, high interest rate debt. But, as long as the devil keeps us convinced that we’re the only one hurting — he wins.

Have you ever gone into a dark room and turned on a light to reveal a roach in the middle of the floor? What does it do the second the light hits it? That’s right — it runs for cover. Folks, the devil is a roach. When we begin to shine the light of Jesus on him — he scrams! As Christians we need to develop the type of fellowship that the Bible tells us to develop. We need to become each others’ best friends and confessional partners.

When we start to talk openly with each other, things change. Church is a lot more than sitting for an hour looking at the bald head in front of you. Church should be the place where we develop our closest friends and confidants. When we become involved and invested in one another — we’ll start to open up. We’ll start to admit, "I’m sitting bolt-upright in bed at three o’clock in the morning scared about my debts," "My spouse and I are at each others’ throats," and "I haven’t given anything at church in six months."

And, you know what the really neat thing is? There’s better than a 70 percent chance the person in the pew next to you will breath a sigh of relief and say, "Me too!" From there, we can begin to face the problems we felt were so insurmountable when we thought we were alone.

3. They feel dumb. It’s amazing how often people who discuss their debt with me stop and say, "I feel so stupid," or "I’m such an idiot."

Here’s the fact: Being in debt and being dumb are two entirely different things. As a matter of fact, it’s possible to be totally out of debt — and still be a really dumb person!

The converse is also true. I could share a number of stories with you of people whom I’ve known who were very smart business leaders yet still got themselves into terrible debt troubles.

Once again, the devil uses this lie to destroy us. As long as he can keep us believing that we are somehow mentally inferior to others — we stay in bondage to debt. But anyone with enough grey matter between his ears to crawl out of bed, brush his teeth, and drive to work also has enough smarts to get out of debt. It’s a matter of learning the basic (pronounced, simple) strategies — and then determining that you’re sick and tired of business as usual.


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Steve Diggs presents the No Debt No Sweat! Christian Money Management Seminar at churches and other venues nationwide. Visit Steve on the Web at  www.stevediggs.com or call 615-834-3063. The author of several books, today Steve serves as a minister for the Antioch Church of Christ in Nashville. For 25 years he was President of the Franklin Group, Inc. Steve and Bonnie have four children whom they have home schooled. The family lives in Brentwood, Tennessee.

A complete financial compendium, 19 chapters
• What you can do today to get out of debt and kill the Debt Monster
• A,B,C's of handling your money God's way
• How to save, invest, and retire wisely
• How mutual funds work
• How to stop fighting over money
• What to teach your kids about money
• Learn how home & car buying, college financing and insurance work.
• How to develop a budget that works -- forever!
• Features simple charts, graphs, and easy-to-use forms.

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