Post by Seth Busetti
Perhaps I am more stubborn than most of you. When I look back at my life, I realize the times I really embraced change came when I was pushed to my limit. Sometimes it was change from good to better, like a job change, or when we decided that I should go back to school to pursue a doctorate degree. But in truth, more often than not it has been me getting past harmful thought patterns or behaviors that were both self destructive and damaging to my relationships.
When I was in high school and early in my undergraduate college I cultivated social behaviors that were linked to binge drinking. I developed patterns of drunkenness as sport, racked up cascading embarrassing situations, glorified poor decision making, and even wasted my precious little money on partying. The more acute aspects of those negative actions were relatively quickly curtailed when I moved to a new town to start grad school and got plugged in with a dedicated group of Christians at a campus ministry. But the mindset and baggage took many years to break through. It required some painful introspection and humbling transparency: I wasn’t a very nice person… I wasn’t even a good person when I was involved in that hedonistic lifestyle. Change occurred when I confronted the pain.
I see that same honest transparency occur in individuals and families that clean up their financial situation. It happened to us. Alexis and I had to deal with the uncomfortable truth that for many years we were foolish with money, and we were ignorant about how the world worked. After we got married we started reading biblical stewardship resources by Crown Financial Ministries, as well as financial wisdom material from other Christian and secular sources. It took time. But it wasn’t the head knowledge that changed us, it was the pain. We were broke. We were on a trajectory to always be broke. We didn’t have a clue. It was humiliating. It hurt. We had to fix this.
In the same way, we see many families who know the facts about biblical stewardship, have read several books, maybe even taken a class like Financial Peace University, they have sat through countless sermons, and been educated by their parents or grandparents. But still make the same bad decisions. In the New Testament, Peter describes this kind of situation bluntly. He says (2 Peter 2:19;22):
“What ever overcomes a person, to that he is enslaved…What the true proverb says has happened to them: ‘The dog returns to its own vomit, and the sow, after washing herself, returns to wallow in the mire.’”
He is not strictly talking about money in this passage, but I think it can be generally included in his discussion on “passions of the flesh”. Drunkenness is a passion of the flesh. But so is spending when you don’t have the money. Or misusing resources that God has given. Or putting your family’s future at risk in order to maintain a facade of status or lifestyle. Or lying to yourself or others about what you really have, letting them believe you are something that you are not.
From my experience, your financial situation will not change until it hurts too much to stay the same. Hopefully, you do not need to hit rock bottom financially. That could be being evicted, having a vehicle repossessed, getting sent to a collections agency, having some services turned off, defaulting on a loan, or even declaring bankruptcy. Some may need the full extent of that kind of pain to change. For others, maybe the pain of looking your future straight in the eyes and determining you want more for yourself and your family is enough. It could be the pain of realizing you and your spouse have so much potential but aren’t getting ahead. Maybe it is the pain of realizing you’ve been misleading your extended family about how well off you are. If you are in any of these situations, what pain will cause your change?