Editor's Note: The following is a report on the practical applications of Amie Streater's new book, Your Money God's Way: Overcoming the 7 Money Myths that Keep Christians Broke, (Thomas Nelson Publishers, 2010).
Wouldn't it be great to live without financial stress? That's the way God wants you to live - and it's possible to do so, no matter what kind of money problems you're dealing with right now. But first you have to clear up muddled thinking that may be keeping you broke and start thinking about money the way God does.
Here's how you can overcome money myths that keep you broke so you can enjoy healthy finances:
Replace unrealistic beliefs about how money can improve your life with biblical truths. Read what the Bible has to say about money so you can check to see whether or not your current financial habits truly line up with biblical principles. If some of your habits don't match how God wants you to be managing your money, make a list of specific beliefs or behaviors about money that you'd like to change. Ask God to help you think about money management from the right perspective, and open your mind to be renewed by the Holy Spirit so you can replace counterfeit convictions about money with real truth about it. Decide to become the best steward you can be of the money that God has entrusted to you. Read and study the Bible often, getting to know it well so you can discern whether or not the messages other people communicate to you about money truly line up with God's Word in its full context.
Look to God, not money, for security. Even though our culture constantly tries to convince you that financial security will give you peace of mind, money doesn't really have the power to give you peace. Actually, the more money you gain, the more you'll want - trapping you in a constant cycle of pursuing more money while never feeling like you have enough. Real security can only come through a relationship with God. The security that God offers you is completely reliable and everlasting, while the best money can offer are temporary good feelings. So derive your sense of security from your relationship with God, and you'll enjoy peace whether or not you happen to have much money at any given time. Value your life in terms of the amount of love you give and receive (which is what matters most to God) rather than how much money you have. Whenever you catch yourself worrying about your finances, pray about your concerns instead, and follow the guidance God gives you to make wise financial decisions. Place your ultimate trust in God, not in money.
Stop wasting your financial resources bailing reckless people out of their financial messes. It's noble to want other people to enjoy good financial health, but it's crucial to determine whether or not God truly wants you to help each person who asks you for help - and if so, to help in a wise way that doesn't keep people stuck in a cycle of dependence. Pray for the wisdom you need to figure out how you should respond every time you encounter a financially needy person. If you do decide to help, make sure that your actions are truly empowering the person to solve his or her own problems rather than making him or her dependent on you.
Start working up to your full potential. God gave you your talents hoping that you would fully use them, so find paid work that allows you to use those talents to help make the world a better place. Don't neglect working whenever you possibly can, since laziness doesn't honor God. God blesses hard work and hopes that everyone will work to their fullest potential. Ask God to give you a strong work ethic and the grace, energy, and patience you need each day to do your best on the job.
Don't be naïve about other people's intentions. Even though you may have good intentions, that doesn't mean that other people - even your Christian brothers and sisters - do when they approach you with sales pitches for business or investment opportunities. Always carefully scrutinize such plans with a healthy level of skepticism.
Give generously. God has given you the ultimate gift - salvation - and you must learn to become a generous giver as you grow closer to Him so you can reflect His character in your life. In order to be financially healthy, you should be tithing to your church and giving offerings above that amount as God leads to places like your church and charities. Start giving as much as you can right away and work up to that standard when possible.
Face the reality of your current circumstances and the consequences of your actions. Be honest with yourself and God about your current financial problems and how your past actions have caused those problems, such as overspending that has led to debt. Don't procrastinate about making better financial decisions such as cutting back on your spending and eliminating debt; your problems will only get worse if don't make changes now to work toward solving them.
Stop blaming God for your own impulsive behavior. If you take crazy risks with your money, that doesn't mean that you have great faith - it means that you're being impulsive and foolish. Pray for the wisdom you need to discern whether or not a potential risk is truly God's will, and if it seems like it may be, wait for confirmation from wise people you trust before risking your money. When making a major decision like changing jobs, plan carefully, such as by keeping your current job until you can start a new one so your income stays constant. Always make sure that your life changes are moving you toward something good rather than just away from some kind of problem.
Create and maintain a healthy budget. Make a budget that reflects your actual expenses and financial goals, and regularly evaluate it to see how you may need to change it so that it truly reflects your current circumstances. Account for every dollar you have. If you're currently in debt, be sure to change your budget once you get out of debt to allocate more money to giving and savings.
Adapted from Your Money God's Way: Overcoming the 7 Money Myths that Keep Christians Broke, copyright 2010 by Amie Streater. Published by Thomas Nelson Publishers, Nashville, Tn., www.thomasnelson.com.
September 8, 2010
Amie Streater is the Associate Pastor for Financial Stewardship at New Life Church. She is passionate about helping families recover from debt and overspending so they can walk in financial freedom and discover God's true calling for their lives. Amie came into full-time ministry in 2006 after15 years as an investigative newspaper reporter. She and her husband, Scott, live in Colorado Springs with their three little boys. Amie is an avid reader and writer and loves to travel. She also enjoys cooking and gardening, and with three boys, has become an expert at carpet cleaning and stain removal.