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More Month than Money?

Do you have too much month at the end of your money? In your family, is contentment more elusive than a nagging anxiety over your finances? Do you switch the conversation when a friend begins talking about being prepared for retirement?


If you've answered yes to most of the above questions, then you are in good company. A study on NAD ministerial families, released last month by Andrews University and Southern Adventist University, reported more than 70 percent of the participants experience financial insecurity as the top stressor in their ministerial homes.  


In preparation for writing on this issue's theme, family finances, I found myself resonating more with titles like Personal Finance for Dummies than the other blow-horn ones likeThink and Grow Rich and The One Minute Millionaire (right!).

Actually, my sweetheart and I did manage to climb out of the debt hole — except for a modest house mortgage, and love the freedom of paying for all purchases up front. This provides us with peace of mind, especially now in uncertain financial times. Although it took us many years to figure this out, praise God none of us are ever too old to learn!

You may identify with the reasons why prioritizing financial security was a steep climb for us: believing that the needs of the local congregations were most important, that Jesus was coming soon, frequent moves which translated into us not making a significant dent in our house mortgages, frequent replacement of worn-out cars due to large districts, income loss (not to mention self-esteem) while searching for jobs in the new districts, and helping put kids through school. 
I empathize with those of you coming out of seminary with immense loan debts. I also empathize with those of you with teenagers, Gen Zers (also tagged the ‘limitless generation’) who connect every waking hour via multi-platforms of rapidly-changing techy gadgets and feel pressure to be in namebrand clothes, and, and… As a mother of three teens, I well remember such dialogues. “But mom, I have to have it!” followed by a brilliant response like, “When I was your age, my mom sewed my clothes from old newspapers, candy wrappers and duct tape!” Mercy!

There also are those of you who, due to health reasons, home-schooling or a plethora of other reasons, cannot supplement your spouse's income. In addition, nearly 50 percent of our Baby Boomer workforce will reach retirement age within the next ten years or sooner — many of whom have not prepared adequately for retirement for various reasons.  It’s no wonder that so many of our families are facing anxiety and depression because of finances.    

The Christian family finance pundits seem to share the view that the number one contributor to financial wellness is "contentment." The NAD Stewardship cirector, John Mathews, recently informed me that many studies confirmed this, even outside the Christian circle. Hmm... I guess we can trust what God is trying to teach us in Philippians 4:11–13:

Not that I speak from want, for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am. I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in prosperity; in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need. I can do all things through Him who strengthens me (NASB).

We hope that in reading and viewing the clips in this newsletter, you’ll experience some contentment and gratitude in Artistic Musings, faith-strengthening in the two Faith Alive stories by Desiree Bryant and Becky Johnson, helpful tips and empowerment in John Mathew’s article, "Tax Man Comes," and in the videos of Jennifer Newton and Dave Ramsey.

We also have included a sobering article by Delbert Johnson, NAD Retirement director, about the policies of our organization and the very slim benefits for a spouse whose employed pastor/husband or pastor/wife passes away prior to retirement. Benefits may vary somewhat from country to country within our Division, so we encourage you and your spouse to be well-informed and ensure that all members of your family will be adequately cared for should the unthinkable happen.
Friends, the unspeakably lavish generosity of our God, as celebrated again this Easter season, stirs me to give in response not just the pittance of a tithe and the practice of a few self-benefitting, common-sense principles, but to gratefully submit my entire life and all my resources to His leading. I desire to live with contentment until the Riches of the kingdom of God is spread before us. And His name is Jesus. 

Donna Jackson is the leader of the Ministerial Spouses Association, Ministerial Department, North American Division.

*This editorial was published in the April 1, 2013, issue of Fresh Strength.