Gary and I have always been conservative when it comes to money. As pastors, there is always a limit to how much we have, and we are comfortable with the limitations of our budget. Yet somehow, with growing kids and many demands on our family, we found ourselves with some debt that frankly both surprised and worried us. Gary and I have always been faithful tithers and we feel like we constantly experience God’s grace when it comes to our budget. Yet this time it was different. We had a debt we needed to pay off and as much as I fantasized about how God might just fix it, we had to face our reality.
Around that same period, I had been hearing about a new class called Financial Peace University by Dave Ramsey. Other churches in our area were hosting FPU classes at their church and were having success in helping their congregation manage debt. I found a few leaders to lead a class and we hosted our first course. It was also a great opportunity for Gary and I as pastors to join the class so we could see what it was all about without anyone knowing how much we personally needed it. It wasn’t until we began the course that I realized how safe we would feel in class. No one was expected to spill their dirty laundry. In fact, it was very private. We were all just trying to be wise with our money and pay off any debt we had.
So here is what we learned. There are no short cuts in paying off debt. But there are better ways of doing it than we realized. We also learned that our approach to money needed to be shifted. Our money did not control us, we controlled our money and our budget. The class also helped us learn to talk about money without getting frustrated or blaming each other.
As we took the class, we made some changes and created some priorities that were not as painful as we expected. In fact, we met our goal and to this day, continue to practice several of the principles. If you have ever spent time in the book of Proverbs you probably realize there are many scriptures that talk about being teachable and open to instruction. Scripture tells us that wise people always seek advice. We are not created to live lives in a bubble, but rather in a community where we are both taught and where we also teach. My favorite wisdom scripture is Proverbs 19:20-21, “Listen to advice and accept instruction, so you might grow wise in the future. Many plans are in a person’s mind, but the LORD’s purpose will succeed.” (CEB) We knew God wanted us to face our debt and we found strong, biblical advice through Financial Peace University. We hope you will consider taking advantage of the next class which starts in just a couple weeks.
Rev. Jayne Rideout