I’ve run across a lot of Youth Ministers in my time. Whether it be at conferences, meetings, or some other encounter there is always one underlying theme: we don’t make a lot of money. Sometimes we joke about it. Sometimes we say it’s no big deal because we’re doing the Lord’s work (which is a valid point).
Most of the time, though, there is a look of worry. How am I going to keep putting food on the table? How am I going to pay for my daughter’s wedding? How am I going to have enough to retire? The easy answer to these questions is to trust the Lord, and quite obviously, that is the right answer. But, trust is demonstrated not just in our words, but also through our actions.
Here are 5 quick tips to help you put your financial trust in the Lord into action:
Before we do anything, we obviously need to pray. Prayer is where we learn how to truly trust the Lord. Years ago, I was in prayer asking God how I can be in ministry and one day hope to have a family. He told me to trust Him. So I told him I would. But then I heard Him say something else, “You’re going to have to sacrifice.” What does that mean? It means that I must live within my means.
2. Get Out of Debt
Too many of us have accepted the idea that having debt is a part of life. Well, it isn’t, and it doesn’t have to be. A few years ago, I decided that it was time to get out of debt. I was going to live within my means, and I’ve been blessed to be debt free for several years now. The feeling I got that day was similar to the feeling I get every time I leave confession. Proverbs 22:7 says, “the borrower is the slave of the lender,” and the day I became debt-free, I felt as if I was no longer enslaved any more. Imagine all that money that goes toward paying your debt every month goes into your savings, investments, or towards retirement. All of a sudden, the possibility of paying for your daughter’s wedding becomes a little more realistic, doesn’t it?
3. Cut Spending
Often times, the reason we don’t get out of debt or increase our savings is because we refuse to cut spending. Take a look at your purchases last month. Now how many can you live without? Let me give you 3 examples:
- Cable: At a minimum, cable typically costs about $30 per month, and that’s for only a few channels. Most of us are probably paying close to $100 per month after taxes and fees. If we do some quick math, that comes to $1200 per year! Now, if you still want to watch TV, grab a $10 antenna and hook it up. You’ll be able to watch all your favorite network shows for free. Then check out Hulu.com where you can watch many of your favorite cable shows for free, or at least for a substantially lower monthly rate.
- Starbucks: How much are you willing to pay for a coffee addiction? Somewhere, someone tried to sell us on the idea that we needed to pay $4 a cup for coffee. Now, let’s do the math. If you pay for a $4 cup of coffee on your way to work everyday, that’s $20 per week. Multiply that by 52 weeks a year and you’ve got $1040! That’s a pretty expensive addiction.
- Eating Out: As Youth Ministers, let’s be honest. We eat out a lot. While that is certainly not good for our health, it’s not good for our bank accounts either. If we eat out for lunch just 3 times a week for about $10, that’s $30 per week and $1560 a year. And, that’s probably a pretty conservative estimate.
4. Follow a Monthly Budget
Budgeting is one of those things I used to hate. I thought I didn’t have time. I thought I could do it in my head. The reality is that the best way to hold ourselves accountable to spending and saving is to have a monthly written budget. If you’re married, this is even more vital. After all, many studies have shown that one of the top reasons for martial stress is finances. We may say we don’t have time to budget. I say we can’t afford not to.
5. Take Time to Learn
Finances are one of those topics that many of us don’t like to talk about. Often times it’s because we really don’t know that much about them. Take time to learn. I highly suggest reading Dave Ramsey’s book, The Total Money Makeover. It’s a great book, written by a Christian man who is an expert in finances, and it will help you get a plan going that works for you and your family.
These are just some quick tips, and some points to ponder. We could definitely go into a lot more depth here, but it’s important to remember that as Youth Ministers, we don’t have to fear this topic. Money isn’t everything, but if we want to do the ministry we love and provide for our families, we have to consider it. While nothing is going to bring a quick fix to our situation, we need to have a plan and put in the time, effort, and sacrifice that it takes.
If you have any questions or would like additional help, please feel free to give me a call (look for Eric Porteous). While I am by no means an “expert,” I’d be happy to talk with you, help you out, or point you in the direction of someone who can.