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Kingdom-Focused Finances: Knowing Where You Stand

Financial difficulties are real. And some people have no idea how bad their financial situation is.

Many of us may not have a heavy debt load, but we dread sitting down and looking at the numbers. It just seems discouraging. In many homes, it’s been said that disagreement over money is the number one reason for divorce. It is of utmost importance that a husband and wife discuss and be fully aware of the state of their finances, regardless of who is in charge of the checkbook. Either the husband or the wife must take primary responsibility for overseeing the finances, and good communication must occur between the two. Many of us have no real sense of where we are financially. We only know that there are more months than money. Finding ourselves in this situation should inspire us to look for solutions, but often we find it easier to procrastinate. Failing to look at a problem seldom fixes it.

How Can We Find Out Where Stand?

We have discussed the importance of finding out where we are, but how do we actually do this? Overtime, our finances tend to become a jumble. How can we as individuals really understand where we are as we begin to plot a course toward our goals? Let’s briefly look at some ways we can identify where we are.

Create a financial statement, including a list of debts. Taking the time to fill out a basic financial statement is extremely important. If you have any outstanding debts, you will need to list the current balance for each of the loans as well as the interest rate on that loan and the monthly payment. We’ll discuss this in more detail later.

Track spending history. This may take some time, depending on your past record keeping, but the intent is to find out where your money has been going. The farther back you can go, the better, but you should have at least three months of spending to look at.

After tracking your spending, compare your present spending within each category to an average of healthy budget. This will tell you if you are spending too much on groceries, transportation, or recreation, based on your total monthly income. For example, most homes spend about 12 percent of their income on groceries. This would include all items normally purchased at a grocery store, including office supplies, cleaning supplies, and other miscellaneous items. Although each household’s budget will be different, this process can reveal areas in your finances that are causing difficulties.

Examine where you are with consumer debt. When we speak of consumer debt, we are not talking about home mortgages or business loans. We are speaking of debt incurred to purchase items we consume. In other words, items that depreciate or lose value rapidly. This may include credit cards, vehicle loans, or family loans. Most families who have not paid attention to their finances end up struggling with consumer debt. As you try to determine your current financial situation, you will need to look closely at this. It is important to understand why you have used consumer debt, find a workable path out of it, and consider how to avoid it in the future. If you have neglected your finances in the past, it will take some time and effort to get them organized. There is no simple shortcut. It is like letting the garden grow up in weeds. There is no way around some initial hard work. Many good budget plans and even software programs are available to help with this. If you have found one that works for you, stick with it.

For more videos on how to tackle consumer debt, watch this video on my YouTube channel here.

A Word to the Discouraged

Before we move on to specifics of how you can take positive steps toward knowing where you are, I want to offer you a word of hope. All of this may seem overwhelming, and as you look at the current disorganized state of your finances, perhaps you are discouraged. Maybe you have ignored your finances because of how bad your state of affairs might be. But remember, even though your financial situation seems bleak, there is hope.

Maybe your situation is a little like Nehemiah looking at the ruins of Jerusalem. He arrived in Jerusalem, and it was simply a big mess. I suspect he wasn’t quite prepared for the reality of the destruction he faced when he arrived. Nehemiah’s situation looked impossible too, but Nehemiah succeeded in his endeavor for two reasons:

  1. He understood his limitations and continually leaned upon God. While planning the work, he asked God for direction. When threatened by enemies, he again talked to God. Throughout this seemingly impossible task, Nehemiah knew the task was larger than he could handle, so he kept giving it back to God.
  2. The people had a mind to work. Nehemiah didn’t just tell God about the problem and then hope God would take care of it. The people were willing to work as the Lord provided direction and strength. This meant putting in some long hours. We don’t read of any nice vacations during this time. They were willing to give up their wants and the life they had become accustomed to previously to achieve the goal of building the wall. 

Rise Up and Build!

Both of these attributes are important if you are serious about recommitting your finances to God. No matter how great your past failure in this area may have been, if you are willing to ask for strength and direction from God and use the strength and direction He gives, there is hope!

I am always inspired as I read this account in Nehemiah. These people were surrounded by wreckage and debris and by enemies who taunted and tried to discourage them. But we can be encouraged by the words of the people that day. As they stood there in the middle of the mess, Nehemiah told them how God had prospered him and how God would be with them. I don’t know how I would have responded. It was a dismal scene as they stood there on the rubble of past failure. Yet, as Nehemiah laid out the vision, the people trusted God and said, “Let us rise up and build.” Take courage from these words. As you begin the process of analyzing where you are, believe that God will be with you, and then in His strength, rise and build!

Reflection Questions

  1. Do you find yourself wanting to ignore financial issues? Why?
  2. Can you think of a time in your life when you were discouraged with your finances? What steps did you take? What lessons did you learn?
  3. Why do you think God wants us to work through financial concerns?
  4. Can you think of someone faithful through a financial difficulty?

“Jerusalem lies in ruins and its gates have been burned. Come, let’s rebuild Jerusalem’s wall, so that we will no longer be a disgrace.” (Nehemiah 2:17).

For more wisdom on how to navigate your finances God’s way, listen to this episode here

**Erica weaves themes of transformative hope and grace-filled leadership into everything she shares on her blog. She’s an author, a speaker, and a life coach, who offers honest encouragement and road-tested wisdom about topics ranging from leadership and lifestyle, to discovering your God-crafted identity, design, and purpose.

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