I got in a Facebook fight with a friend the other day about this article from Yahoo finance about how any normal person can become a millionaire.
I’ll briefly sum up the fight for you:
- I think the article isn’t exactly right because most americans, working full-time, don’t make enough to put away the kind of money the article talks about.
- My friend’s rebuttal was that, while my point is true, most people can sacrifice some nights and weekends (the ever-coveted “side-hustle”) to save that much money. Think delivering pizzas, working at a gas station, and so on.
- My answer was… yes, but I have a family. My nights and weekends are my family time. I work full-time in a salaried church position, and while my income is totally fine, it’s not enough to stash the sort of cash the yahoo article prescribes. Most americans are in the same boat.
And then I realized all of our points were moot because I’m not making decisions the way I should be.
What I mean by “should” is that if I wanted to be reasonably wealthy, I shouldn’t have become a pastor. I should have been something else I was good at, and I’ve had several options since high school—welder, pilot, oil field grunt, and a few more after that. I actually tried to join the military at one point, and I nearly aced the ASVAB, so I could have done basically anything I wanted to in the armed forces and made bank. I actually had a chance to be a warrant officer as a helicopter mechanic. That pays well, perhaps not at first, but former military aviation mechanics are well-paid in the private sector when their service is up.
But I didn’t do any of those things and it’s for a seemingly foolish reason, well… a seemingly foolish reason to any person who’s only thinking about income versus expenses and how to save up for retirement.
I make decisions based on what the Holy Spirit tells me to do, and He told me to become a pastor.
Here’s the skinny. I graduated from business school, so I understand money. In fact, my best marks in college were in my accounting and finance classes. We keep a tight budget in my house using a great app called YNAB (short for You Need A Budget), so we’re in control of our income and expenses. We’re striving to be good stewards every day.
But the key word there is steward. Our financial future isn’t exactly in our hands. What’s in our hands is what’s in our hands right now, because that’s what God has provided for us.
It’s not that I haven’t tried out some side hustles. I have. Not much has panned out. And we both work a couple of odd jobs throughout the year to afford some fun things we otherwise could not, so we’re not lazy. We’ve just decided that my main focus is being a pastor, and her main focus is being a mom, and a million dollars by the time we’re in our 50’s isn’t what God has us doing at the moment. He’s tasked us with raising our children and growing our church, so all of our energy and time are devoted to those two things. For me, delivering pizzas after the kids go to bed would take away from the much needed rest that I need to focus on the church and my family. I’m no good to anybody if I’m stretched too thin.
And that doesn’t make good financial sense, I’ll admit. I should be working nights to stash away for college funds and retirement. Abigail should be working a second job so that we can stash away for, well… college funds and retirement. But we’ve realigned our priorities because of what Matthew chapter 6 says:
“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?
“And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.
To be clear, my friend is right: we should be doing all we can to make our future more secure. In fact, I think that basically everyone should follow his advice and not mimic how I’m living my life right now. There’s nothing sinful in saving money for the future by working nights delivering pizzas. Unless God has called you to something else.
And He’s called us to something else.
What does that mean for you? Well, probably nothing. Unless you’ve found yourself in the same situation I’m in. In that case, I want to encourage you: wait on the Lord.
If you’re sure of your calling right now, then wait for Him to provide your needs. It’s that simple. Be willing to work, be willing to serve, be willing to do whatever you need to do, but don’t fret over it. Don’t lose sleep over it. Don’t feel like a lesser person because of it.
God has you where He has you and that’s the best place to be.