Money Matters for the New in Ministry

OK, Jesus-loving newbies fresh out of school. Remember all that passion you had when you started?  You might wonder if you lost your edge but in truth, reality has set in. Don’t worry that you will never regain your fervor. The gospel is true and Jesus is faithful. Your struggle is seeing how it all works in real life, not in theory.  It’s all worth it.

School Debt

The vast majority of people who graduate from college, no matter what their major, are in significant debt. If mom and dad paid for your schooling in full, rise up and call them blessed, but for most families that is not possible. You are an adult. We all know it is wrong to take ownership of something you don’t pay for and it is no less true of a college education it is to take goods from your local grocery store without paying for them.  Honor the Lord by handing your school debt in a responsible manner. School debt should not keep you from ministry.  You can whine and think that you earn less than people with a secular education, but in truth, the struggles of the newly graduated are universal. Thank God for your education, trust Him with you debt, and do what you were trained to do.

Educate Yourself About Loan Terms

Many young people are paying crippling amounts which can negotiated to a more reasonable payment by contacting the loan provider.  If you can’t make ends meet there are many ways to tie your payment to your income. This ensures you will be able to responsibly meet your payments as well as build a good credit score.  If you have no idea how to talk to your loan provider, ask someone older than you for advice. (Yes, you can inbox me.)

Learn Your Second-Job Options

I am an ordained accountant. For the majority of people in ministry, there will be a time when you are bi-vocational.  We worked secular jobs, studied, and ministered in our local church during our 20’s and were not in full time ministry until the age of 30.  It is a great learning experience and helps you appreciate the people who have secular careers and support the church and ministry.  If you are a missionary associate, you will have to work while you are on deputation. If you are not earning enough at your ministry job to pay all your bills you will have to take a second position to supplement your income.  This makes you like most Christians in the world.

There are a host of simple ways to get a skilled job.  You have a college education.  You can be a substitute teacher in the public school.  You can teach at a private school be it secular or Christian. You can find work through a temp agency, nanny through an agency or get a certificate in some area of interest through your local technical high school or community college. No skill is wasted and it is not a lifetime commitment to a profession to take a job in a secular area for a time.  Paul was a tent maker and it did not make him less an apostle. There is no shame in being a barista or waitress, if you are a barista or a waitress to the glory of God. In truth, you get to mingle with the masses and that is a healthy thing to do.

Trust God and Don’t Lose Your Vision

The difference between Bible college and post Bible college is the latter requires more faith. You now have to trust God for things in the present that were once just topics of discussion.  God is faithful. Trust Him and you will find that He is indeed faithful. Tithe, when it makes no financial sense, and you will discover that proving the Lord of Hosts is never a losing proposition. You are not promised smooth sailing. You are promised that Jesus will be with you on the stormy waters.

Don’t lose your vision.  God has not removed His call from you just because the pieces do not fall into place right away.  You spent four years preparing for ministry. If you give up on ministry because things don’t fall into place, you need to get a grip, grow up, re-gear and go on in grace. The Lord is worth serving and there is nothing greater to which we can give our lives than to lovingly share the gospel. Even if you had to assume school debts that kept you in payments till you die, the Pearl of Great Price would still be of greater value. Life joyfully in that truth.

 

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Feeling Nothing? Welcome to a Life of Faith!

The music was glorious. The congregation was swept up in the joys of Christmastime. Hands were raised. Tears flowed. Yet once again I looked like a person waiting for a root canal. I felt nothing positive or negative. Mentally, I was plagued by guilt that I, a missionary, seemed unmoved by the ancient truths that saved my soul. Since returning to the US I had waited for “something” to happen to me. I wanted God to move on what I perceived was a hardened heart. After months of “waiting for God to move” I was starting to feel like I was waiting in vain. There was no zing, swoosh, or zoom. I heard no sound of a rushing wind. I was praying and still feeling like I was dead as a doornail. Then, God spoke.

“What they are doing is easy”. That was it. That was all He said. I didn’t feel a thing, but the impression of that sentiment was so strong I knew it was Him and I found myself realizing something I already knew to be true: nothing is as it appears to be. People’s upraised hands meant nothing if they were not living a life of faith.

The months rolled by and the time for our return to Papua was at hand. I was at a ministry wives’ retreat and there was a moving altar call that touched the lives of many. Women filled the altar, tears flowed, hankies flew and I found myself once again standing alone in the middle of the friends pinching the bridge of my nose like a woman with a migraine. I kept saying, “God please do something wicked* quick”. (*God speaks Bostonian).

Suddenly, I was standing under the eaves of our house in the remote village of Waipapa. I heard the Lord speak clearly and evenly, “I don’t want you to cry. I don’t want you to weep. I want you to go back”. Then, I opened my eyes and saw I was still in a room full of passionate pastors’ wives and they looked a lot more touched than I felt. I said to the Lord, “Couldn’t I have gotten a little zip with that?” This time He said nothing. I had just had an unemotional vision.

Getting older answers a lot of the questions you have as a young person. I am now glad I didn’t get goosebumps when other people did. The Lord knew what I needed and what would mess me up. A lot of emotion would have been a disaster where I lived, and sadly I saw a lot of people walk away from their calling because the enthusiasm they used as a barometer to confirm God’s will suddenly was not enough to keep them going. Life cannot be maintained at such an emotional level. If a rushing sense of emotion indicates the joy of the Lord, then a lack of it would seem to indicate that the joy of the Lord is not present. In truth, joy is a perspective not a feeling and any internal barometer of God’s will is by definition, egocentric.

The Lord knows our emotions like our bodies, were made to reflect His glory but are corrupted by the fallen world. I don’t need a zing to tell me God’s will when I have His Word. His Word says to preach this gospel “in season and out”, which is a nice way of saying, “When you feel like it and when you don’t”. The Spirit of God promises to lead me into all truth, but not all giddiness. God called me to missions and the longer I have served Him in that capacity the less I have heard affirmation of the call. I know I am called. He impressed it on me and then He stepped back and let me live that call out in faith. I had ‘only’ the Word of God and the Spirit of God to guide me. And if I rely solely on the scriptures and live them just as they are written, I will indeed have a super natural life with the Spirit of God leading me in all truth. I have seen a lot of miracles and I have seen a lot of sorrow. I have had some truly amazing days where I felt incredibly awesome. I have had an equal number of days when I felt in the pits. In between I didn’t feel a whole lot out of the ordinary.That means I am living a very scriptural life.

Yes, you will have your battles with your emotions. Never let your emotions define you or your choices. A heart of faith makes decisions based not on how we feel but on the Word of God. Now be free and live as big as your God.