We’ve all faced a crisis, whether it’s a job loss, serious illness, birth of a special needs child or the death of a family member. These situations and many more can turn our world upside down.
Think about crisis stories in the Bible:
- His brothers sold Joseph into slavery.
- In a few hours, Job lost everything—his children, wife, all of his financial resources, even his health.
- Moses was caught between the Red Sea and the most powerful army in the world.
- Daniel was thrown into the lion’s den.
- Paul was beaten, stoned and left for dead.
It would have been easy for any of these people to have felt abandoned by God, yet in each case, God used their crisis for good.
James 1:2-4 sums up a crisis situation best: “Consider it all joy, my brothers, when you encounter various trials, for you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. And let perseverance be perfect, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.”
God uses all circumstances, even difficult ones, for our ultimate good. A crisis can give us the opportunity to grow closer to God, to learn things we just could not learn any other way, or to renew our faith.
When we are hit with a crisis, there is usually a financial impact, normally through decreased income or increased expenses. The best way we know to prepare for the financial impacts of a crisis is to take the Compass Catholic Bible Study Navigating Your Finances God’s Way. If your finances are in good order, the crisis can be a little less stressful.
One of the exercises In the Navigating study, is to prepare a crisis budget. This can be done by cutting your expenses by a percentage (40% or more) or by figuring out the most likely crisis and cutting your budget to meet the circumstances of that crisis.
For example, if you were to lose your job, how would you survive financially? Or if you are paid a commission on sales and have a bad season, how would you adjust your finances? Or if you have a significant medical crisis, how will your income and expenses be affected?
Having the discussion before the crisis makes it easier to make objective decisions, not decisions based on emotion and having a plan will give you a sense of peace.
Most times people will face financial challenges in a crisis by using credit cards to maintain their standard of living. This is dangerous because you not only have a reduced income and increased expenses, you are adding debt payments to your expenses, plus interest, so the whole situation can quickly spiral into financial chaos.
The important thing is to know how much you spend on a monthly basis, and where you can modify your spending—that is the only way you can possibly be prepared to adjust in case of a crisis. As soon as there’s the slightest possibility of a crisis, implement the crisis budget. For example, in most cases if there are layoffs at work, you can see them coming maybe weeks or even months in advance.
When you implement the crisis budget proactively, the worst thing that’s going to happen is you’ll save some money if the crisis never occurs. The best thing that will happen is that you will survive the crisis with minimum financial damage.
The other topic that wraps up the Navigating study is our perspective on eternity. The main idea of this topic is that we are called to be good stewards and to integrate our faith into every aspect of our life—even how we manage money and possessions.
Scripture lays out guidelines from the book of Proverbs that highlight examples of being a good steward:
- We should not be lazy: Proverbs 19:15 “Laziness brings on deep sleep, and the sluggard goes hungry.”
- We should not be greedy: Proverbs 23:4 “Do not wear yourself out to gain wealth, cease to be worried about it.”
- We should not make hasty decisions: Proverbs 21:5 “The plans of the diligent end in profit, but those of the hasty end in loss.”
- We should be generous: Proverbs 21:13: “Those who shut their ears to the cry of the poor will themselves call out and not be answered.”
- We should avoid debt: Proverbs 22:7: “The rich rule over the poor, and the borrower is the slave of the lender.”
These verses are clear and simple and easy to understand.
Analyzing our daily life to see if we are living these principles can be difficult. It means scrutinizing our actions and their motivation. Am I lazy? Am I greedy and hasty? Am I generous? Am I overrun with debt? Am I being a good steward of God’s blessings?
In too many parishes and dioceses, stewardship is a word that often causes Catholics to think of fund-raising. The word ‘stewardship’ is used, but what we hear is “The parish or diocese needs more money.”
True stewardship is a way of life and it’s an important tool in our faith. Stewardship means living in a way that pleases God in all areas of our lives—even when it comes to our own personal finances.
The purpose of our lives is to help us to better know, love and serve the Lord. When we place God first, everything else in our life falls into place. Being able to walk away from money and possessions for Christ reveals a pure heart. Too often we give money first place in our hearts—a place where God should be.
In the big scheme of things, money is a small thing. Simply put money is stuff we use to get other stuff. We should be much more concerned about our spiritual life and pleasing God than about how much money and stuff we have.
In John 10:10 Jesus is quoted, “…I came so that they might have life and have it more abundantly.” Jesus said that we would have an abundant life. Too many times what we hear is that we are supposed to have abundance IN life. That we should have wealth, that all the riches we desire should be ours.
Constantly striving for wealth, material success and keeping up with the neighbors won’t provide us with an abundant life. An abundant life isn’t based on your accumulation of material wealth, it is based on your attitude and love for your fellow man and what you actually do with the wealth you already have. If you have a heart for freely giving and sharing—first to the Lord and then to your brothers and sisters, you will have an abundant life.
Mastery over money gives us a deeper ability to know, love and serve the Lord. As we better know, love and serve the Lord we become more obedient in all areas of our lives. As we become more obedient, the Lord bestows greater blessings on us; blessings such as peace, understanding, contentment, joy, and grace. Earthly blessings are fleeting and will never stand the test of time, but gifts from the Lord are everlasting.
It may take some time to change your mindset and adjust your attitude. But once you start living a total stewardship lifestyle, nothing is the same.
And that’s a good thing!
Listen to the Compass Catholic podcast for more on this topic.