From the families of small business owners to wealthy executives, a lot of families are facing anxiety over a declining investment market, have been laid off of work, or are even facing the closing of a business. It’s tough everywhere for families. We need sound financial advice. Sift through the sea of articles online and you’ll find expert advice from budgeting to eliminating credit card debt. That advice is important. Take measures to protect your family’s economic wellbeing.
Now, I’m not an economist or an accountant. I’m a Pastor. My concern is for heart of God and the soul of the family. Parents, here are four biblical principles for shepherding the soul of your family through tough, often uncertain, economic times.
1. Teach your kids what true prosperity is.
Christina and I left everything to live in Haiti. We gave away nearly all of our earthly possessions. I resigned from a loving, stable and generous church. It was the most terrifying thing we’d ever done. We were faith missionaries, spending a year in Haiti to establish our ongoing work there. Donations were for ministry, so we lived on minimal personal resources. We got excited when visiting mission teams brought us peanut butter and Spam. We were even happier when they brought Nutella! We were financially poorer than ever before.
But as a Christian home, we became richer than we could have imagined. God poured resources through us to build hope in the lives of truly impoverished people. We sang together in family worship. We got creative with simple ingredients as we cooked together. Who knew old bread, old bananas, brown sugar and butter could become bananas foster surgery delight?! We served God together.
Proverbs 8:18-20 states “I have riches and honor, as well as enduring wealth and justice. My gifts are better than gold, even the purest gold, my wages better than sterling silver! I walk in righteousness, in paths of justice.” (NLT) Our work in Haiti continues because, while it grew out of our relative poverty and was planted into a place of extreme poverty, it was a seed planted in Godly love, Christian relationship, and eternal hope. It was watered in the joy of serving the Lord together as a family.
2. Teach your kids where true prosperity comes from.
Your family doesn’t have to move to Haiti or Kenya or anywhere else to apply these principles. Poverty is relative, times are tough, and God never changes. This is where family worship, prayer, and devotion come in. We need to instill trust in God in our children.
When we moved to Haiti I was confronted by some very well-meaning folks. They cared about our children and questioned the safety and sanity of what we were doing. One dear friend said, “Chris, why are you going to risk putting your children through this?!” I replied, “Why would I rob them of the opportunity to go through a season of learning to trust God?” It was an honest reply because it was true.
We learned that true prosperity comes directly from God. We learned how to trust God in deepening and more direct ways. You didn’t ask for the tough times you’re facing. However, God in His providence allowed these times to arrive right on your doorstep. What will you teach your children in this moment?
Mom and Dad, put Psalms 145:3-4 into action in your home. “Great is the LORD! He is most worthy of praise! No one can measure His greatness. Let each generation tell its children of Your mighty acts; let them proclaim Your power.” (NLT) Turn your attention to God and watch how quickly our children turn their eyes and hearts in the same direction. True prosperity is found in knowing God!
3. Remind yourself what makes you truly prosperous.
Those kids you’re worried about providing for? Remember, your true prosperity is in them – not in what you can provide for them.
“Unless the LORD builds a house, the work of the builders is wasted. Unless the LORD protects a city, guarding it with sentries will do no good. It is useless for you to work so hard from early morning until late at night, anxiously working for food to eat; for God gives rest to His loved ones. Children are a gift from the LORD; they are a reward from Him. Children born to a young man are like arrows in a warrior’s hands. How joyful is the man whose quiver is full of them! He will not be put to shame when he confronts his accusers at the city gates.” (Psalms 127:1-5 NLT)
They are your inheritance. They are God’s gift. They’ll remember the love you share now, whether you share it playing with them in the backyard or a cruise ship. The vacation they really want is YOU – undistracted, loving them, modeling the love of God in front of them. I remember a day when a Haitian kid taught my kids how to make kites from a garbage bag, some string, and two sticks. They had so much fun! Little is much when God is in it.
You and I may not have the resources to invest into a great financial inheritance for them, but the only thing stopping us from investing directly into them is self-distraction. Trust God with the future and celebrate the riches of our family now!
4. Remind yourself of the true worth you always possess in Christ.
I’ve found that in times of economic difficulty it is easy for me to feel like a failure. I start what I call the “could’a” game. “I could’a saved more money. If only I could’a done better. Christina and I could’a provided better for the kids.” It goes on and on. Stop it.
Mom. Dad. Our true worth has always been in Christ. I’m praying the same prayer for you that the Apostle Paul prayed for the Church at Ephesus. “I pray that your hearts will be flooded with light so that you can understand the confident hope He has given to those He called – His holy people who are His rich and glorious inheritance.” (Ephesians 1:18 NLT) You can only be who you are in Christ and that is enough. Just as our kids are our inheritance, we are God’s inheritance!
Ease your anxiety by looking to God in tough economic times. Work hard but trust in Him, not yourselves. Pray hard but know that it isn’t how hard you pray but how big the God is to whom we pray. Stay centered in Christ. Get through tough economic times God’s way.
Learn true prosperity in difficult times.