By Jeff Struecker
Ninety-five percent of the pain and the heartache of being a pastor comes during the week in the form of counseling and crises. The other five percent comes before or after services on Sunday or mid-week. Don’t get me wrong; I wouldn’t spend my life doing anything else – even if God let me. Pastors also experience joys during the week in personal conversations with people. It’s not only during church services that God gives people victory over problems they’ve been facing. Many times, those victories come during the week when people start to step out on faith and follow the Holy Spirit’s leadership in big areas of their life.
One of the most consistent areas that I see church people struggle with is in the area of debt. Notice, I did not say the problem was with money. Money is not a problem for most church people. Rarely do I see people suffer from a lack of money (although I have known couples struggle from too much money). It is often an issue of the control that money has over a Christian’s heart that causes the biggest struggles. This control becomes destructive when it comes in the form of debt.
This blog is designed to be a “wakeup call.” I hope for the next few paragraphs to show you the insanity of giving in to a culture that is obsessed with stuff to the point of being enslaved to debt. Therefore, today I am shamelessly using “scare tactics” to help stress the importance of getting this area of your life under control:
Too many stressed out people
If you talk to anyone who is under a mountain of debt, the word that will always come up is stress! Debt always causes stress! The reason why many people get themselves in debt is because they are unable to control their spending. When their spending starts to get out of control, that debt starts to accumulate. The greater your personal debt, the higher your levels of stress will be. Why would anyone do this to themselves? Don’t give in to the insanity of stress that goes along with debt in our society.
America is a country consumed with debt. From our national debt to individual consumer debt, we have a problem living within our means. Major debt causes major stress. The only way to get out from underneath this burden of stress is to pay off the debt. People will use the word freedom when they pay the last note on a car payment. If you talk to anyone who makes their final student loan payment, they will also probably use the word freedom. When people pay their final credit card bill, they too will probably use the word freedom to describe what it feels like to be out from underneath that debt. I challenge you to find financial freedom in 2019 by getting rid of debt!
Too many broken marriages
For decades, the number one reason couples listed when filing for divorce has been money! Debt has tanked more marriages than just about all other issues over the past 50 years combined. Take it from a pastor who does a lot of marriage counseling: nothing causes more problems in a marriage than when two people cannot agree on how to handle money.
When I counsel couples with money problems in a marriage, I always warn them to take this issue seriously, because the statistics say, if you don’t handle money problems seriously, it could destroy your marriage. I also remind every couple that struggles with money problems to look deeper than money. Usually money is not the problem in marriage. Typically, there is a problem in another area of the marriage, and money is the catalyst that’s bringing that problem area to the surface.
I wish you could listen to the pain that couples go through when she wants to spend money on this vacation, and he wants to save it. I wish you could hear the difficulties that marriages suffer when he wants to buy a Harley Davidson motorcycle and she wants to invest in their children’s education. I don’t joke around about money in marriage counseling. This is too painful of an issue in most marriages. If money issues aren’t navigated carefully, it can lead to divorce. Again, it’s insane to allow something like a dollar bill to end a marriage. Don’t give into the insanity! Don’t let debt problems destroy your marriage. If you love your spouse and want to make your marriage last… get out of debt!
Too many suicides
I saved this one for last on purpose, because this is a vivid example of how serious debt problems can be in a person’s life. I have seen men destroy their lives because the debt became too much to handle. I know men who have killed themselves rather than face the hard work of overcoming a financial disaster. Every suicide is a tragedy. However, suicide as a result of debt is an avoidable tragedy.
Money should never have this much control over a person. Sometimes the control that debt has over a person can become overwhelming. This is the point that debt becomes a tyrant that will ruin your happiness. I believe this is what the author had in mind when he wrote Proverbs 22:7 (The rich rule over the poor and the borrower is a slave to the lender). Certainly, there were cultural customs of debtor’s prison or debtor’s enslavement during the time that this verse was written. However, I believe this verse is a clarion call to all people about debt. Basically, the Bible is warning readers to treat debt like a prisoner’s chains.
Why would anyone willingly enslave themselves? Why would anyone knowingly inflict the pain and stress that comes along with debt? I beg you, don’t let debt destroy your marriage or your life. Don’t give money that kind of control over your life. Take back the control this year. Find financial freedom from debt in 2019.