You may have heard several conversations about money within the Church. From the necessary “tithe your percentage to the church” sermon, being part of a small group on Financial Peace University by Dave Ramsey, sitting in on a budgeting meeting for the ministries when it gets heated, or trying to decide if you are going to pay for that $2 donut and $4 coffee at the newly installed church coffee shop, money is apart of every church.
One thing is true, there is stress in money.
We don’t have enough money, it seems difficult to keep money, and it’s hard to obtain money. The Church even talks about how money is the root of all evil.
But what if there was a way of taking the stress out of money?
How Is This About Mental Health?
There are two forms of counseling, crisis and preventative. Crisis counseling identifies how to come up with coping skills to help de-escalate someone’s emotions. This is fundamentally the typical breathing exercises, understanding core beliefs, and addressing our thoughts. But the more involved, longer lasting, and greater effort-taking counseling is preventative therapy where we take on difficult problems as they come along in order to reduce overall stress, depression, and other symptoms in order to avoid crisis situations in the first place.
Talking about money helps us lower stress. Money gives us access to more resources. And in many ways, it helps us get do ministry, enjoy hobbies, and do more.
Further, understanding how we come to try to predict the future when it comes to money, even separate from the stock market but instead looking at if we will have enough money for taxes or Christmas, causes us more stress. In fact, the holidays between Thanksgiving and Christmas can be some of the most stressful for people specifically due to money. People lose jobs at the end of year so companies can stay out of the red, parents and loved ones can’t get gifts, and we are reminded at parties where we stand on the socioeconomic status in relation to family and peers. We become jealous, hopeless, and frustrated.
How Can We Reduce Stress With Money?
I’ve already mentioned him once, but the Christian who is leading the charge in talking about holy money management is Dave Ramsey. Here is a quick video of him talking with someone who is new to money management on his radio show and below is a couple of ideas on practical resources.
On Dave’s site is a whole list of useful forms you could impliment right now. My favorite is the quick start budget that allows you to account for every dollar already committed to be spent in bills as well as other variable costs in comparison to our income. Simple math.
I would encourage you to look at those resources, look into his famous envelope system, or just simply start reading up on good practices.
How Money Affects Others?
If it was all this simple, an 8-year-old who is getting an A in math could help you sort it out. Honestly though, it really is more complicated than this. Many times our money spending is about envy, greed, or other sinful acts which impact our daily living. Our soul cries for comfort and so we go to buy a new outfit. We want to have purpose, so we buy a new powertool. All the while, this emptiness is still there. Then guilt comes in at the money we spend and slowly but surely we are further and further distancing ourselves from God.
Alternatively, if you are married, you know the complexities of trying to get two or more people to put together a budget. It’s been said that money and sex are the two biggest reasons marriages fail. But as leading psychological researchers of marriages, Dr. John and Julie Gottman, note: arguments are not actually about money.
“Out of all the forces that determine our relationship with money, the most influential is our personal history… It’s these personal meanings that guide how we deal with money in our marriage. Logic has very little to do with it.
So when your partner complains about the expensive organic groceries you bought at Whole Foods, or the silk tie that costs more than a plane ticket, an argument breaks out, to you it’s not just food or a tie. These privileges represent stability and success. They protect you. They define you.
Money is loaded with power and meaning that can make can discussions heated and hurtful. Arguments about money aren’t about money. They are about our dreams, our fears, and our inadequacies.
In our Christian faith, we understand our dreams, fears, and inadequacies are to be grounded in the Word of God, in our prayers to Him, and in our desire to worship, disciple, and evangelize. These things then would lead this meaning and power. So for us to fight about money could imply a need for better communication, or more possibly, a need to look within our own selves and our marriage to better align with the life of Christ and His calling for us.
I encourage you today, if you have pains about money, there are resources out there. Seek them out and don’t put it off.