Thursday, December 8, 2011

Seeking Perspective


I've had such strong, yet conflicting feelings lately about money. Money, money, money... a necessary evil. As we undergo changes in our home, we are, of necessity, re-evaluating our financial situation. It makes my head spin. Now is the time I wish I could sit down with an older, wiser preacher's wife and just chat about these things. I feel like I could use some wisdom.

Because I think starting at the end will help me piece things together... the conclusion I am reaching is that things are not always what they seem, so I need to just keep my heart, mind, and thoughts focused here on our little home and not worry about others.

For instance, today when I was driving to the grocery store, there was a nun driving a new red jaguar in the car behind me. My immediate thought was, "What on earth is a nun doing driving a new jaguar?!?!" It was just so discombobulating, especially considering the concerns I've had lately. Then I thought... maybe things are not what they seem. I do not know her situation. Maybe she has no car, but needed to get to a doctor's appointment, so a wealthy person lent her the car to drive. Maybe the car was a gift. Maybe she stole the car and the nun's habit was her disguise. (Just kidding on that one!) The thing is, I just don't know and can't know, so I need to not worry about it.

The situation with preachers and their money is a very, very, very tricky one. I think some of you may be able to sympathize. For one, other than the military where salary is by rank, there are not many professions where your salary is widely known and publicized. As we are seeking financial support to do the Lord's work, we just sent letters all over the country publicizing our income. Eeeeep. It's also one of the few professions I know of where you essential set your own salary in many cases, though this is not without checks and balances. We put hours of work into determining our budget and we still struggle with wondering if it is too much or too little. Our household budget is available upon (reasonable) request. We endeavor to live above reproach, but it still makes me slightly uncomfortable. I don't like the feeling of being judged.

Preachers are not known for their cushy salaries, but what about when you see a preacher with a nice home, a nice new car, new furniture, an iPhone, wearing designer clothing, etc... Does your mind rush to make a judgement? I admit it, I have been guilty. And I am ashamed. I have to remind myself, "maybe things are not as they seem". Maybe that iPhone was a gift, maybe the family saved for that new car for 5 years, maybe the new furniture was bought with a mind to dedicate it to the service of hospitality, maybe those designer clothes were given to the family and free designer clothes are cheaper than cheap clothes at Target... I just don't know, I can't know, and really, it is none of my business.

Then on the flip side... More than ever before, comes the realization that our living comes from money that has been dedicated to the Lord and His work. Hardworking families give of their means to allow us to be here doing this work. We MUST be wise stewards with these gifts.

And I must remember that we are not the only ones. I know of too many preachers that are struggling to get all of the financial support they need. Families are struggling, yet they continue working hard for the Lord. My prayer: God, bless them in their work. Help them and help us to have our need freely supplied.

I remember stories of preachers in the past... A dear man that has since passed on told the story of his time as a traveling preacher during the Great Depression. The custom was that he would preach for whatever was put in the collection plate that Sunday. One Sunday, he was paid $.35. When he and his wife got in the car that day the preacher said, "Well honey, I put in the quarter." She replied, "Honey, I put in the dime." Preachers need not take a vow of poverty and yet I know many who did just that in their dedication to the Lord and His work.

In this country, being rich or poor is entirely a state of mind. I read the story of The Rich Family in Church today and it was so timely in helping me gain perspective. We live in America (well, most of us), the richest nation on the planet. I haven't kept up with all of the Wall Street garbage, so forgive me if I say this poorly, but America's 99% are still the world's 1%! I've seen true third world poverty with my own eyes. We do not have a poverty problem in this country, we have an entitlement problem.

When I keep my eyes from wandering, when I look around at my comfortable surroundings, my beautiful gifts, my healthy, well-fed children, I am very content and I feel RICHLY blessed. God has cared for me, and he will continue to do so. I am so deeply thankful. I just need to keep these thoughts on the forefront of my mind. There are so many verses I could use here, but I'm sure you know them too. They, too, are on my heart and mind as I seek wisdom from above.

I almost didn't publish this post. As I said, talking about money is so very tricky. But I needed to sort out some thoughts and this is my forum for doing so. Advice and perspective on the matter is very much welcome. Feel free to e-mail me if you don't wish to comment publicly. churchmouseathome at gmail dot com

Thank you, kind readers. May you, too, be richly blessed!

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  1. "The blessings come down as the prayers go up!" I sing this alongside the children in Bible class and it is a good reminder in every area of life. Thinking of you and yours as you serve Him.

  2. As wife of a teacher of the gospel supported by others' generosity and sacrifice, this theme often comes to mind. I struggle with finding the balance between feeling guilt-free to enjoy this life and the beauty and pleasures God makes possible in it (when they require some financial investment), and at the same time remembering the situations of some who so generously give and give up, for the sake of my family! So... how could I put this money toward xyz? And the many judgement calls as to whether I'm being a good steward or am I too concerned about physical possesions (and appearances?) and am I holding myself to an inflated standard of well being, one higher than required for a healthy, happy, richly blessed life ...
    May I not be such a slave to riches that I'm turned into a "keep up with the Jones" but neither a miser afraid to spend anything...

    Maybe... Just don't be afraid to cast our bread upon on the waters? Trust that enough will come back? Take some risks? And remember that God knows the truth of all we have or don't have or just appear to have and He is the only one who can truly judge our priorities in this life...

  3. I think many don't realize that preachers are among those who often don't have a "built in" financial security plan for the future. This is another tough call related to the "am I being a good steward?" question, OR is my North American mindset putting too much priority on some cushion for the future... and do I ask for support NOW to enable building up that cushion? And how can I even set aside money when there are many with more urgent needs TODAY and it is in my power to help? Generosity? or Wisdom for my family? And will we get burned/criticized later when we come up short because we trusted now that God will provide? (And if I really trusted that God would provide, would these concerns even cross my mind?)


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