By Nate Keeler, @MBCArlington Campus Pastor
DEALING WITH DEBT
If you want to ruin a happy hour, ask about your co-workers’ student loans. Or if you want to stress out your roommate, ask about her plan to pay off her credit card bill.
In our series on delayed adulthood, we come to a four-letter word: DEBT. For many of us talking about our debt is a downer, and we would rather avoid thinking about it. Four out of 10 Millennials are “overwhelmed” by their debt according to a recent CNN study. Many of us have accumulated student debt, credit card debt, car payments, etc. that are well above our earning capacity…and we don’t have much of a real plan to pay off those obligation.
But really, the issue goes beyond debt. There are a series of paradoxes for some of us, like the following, that point to delayed adulthood:
- We can afford the must-have new apparel for the season, but we can’t pay more than the minimum on our credit card.
- We can pick up the bar tab, but we can’t save for the future.
- We can justify expensive vacations and road trips, but we can rationalize not giving to the church or going on a missions trip.
Do you see the theme? Some of us have the mindset (whether we would say it out loud or not) “have fun now, get out of debt later.” This can be summed up in the word “procrastination”, which is a defining label of delayed adulthood.
For the Christian, this is ultimately an issue of our spiritual priorities. Here are two questions to ask yourself as you evaluate what it would look like to grow in maturity in the area of money management:
1. What do my credit card and bank account statements tell me about what I desire most?
Jesus tells us in Matthew 6:21, “Wherever your treasure is, there the desires of your heart will also be.” Mike Kelsey, MBC Silver Spring Campus Pastor hit this heavily in his sermon, “The Grace to Come”, about setting our minds on eternity. A fundamental sign of spiritual maturity for the Christian is delayed gratification—the willingness to forgo temporary pleasure (at least as defined by our culture and our own flesh) in order to gain permanent, deep and eternal joy and pleasure.
2. What do my spending habits, schedule and hobbies tell me about how I’m investing my resources?
Ephesians 5:15-16 says, “Therefore be careful how you walk, not as unwise men but as wise, making the most of your time, because the days are evil.” The spiritually mature are wise because they prioritize their time and resources according to God’s priorities not the world’s priorities.
So if you find yourself in the category of delayed adulthood in your approach to money, what should you do about it? Here are a few suggestions:
- Confess and repent. This is always the right first step. Ask God to give you the heart desire and self-control you will need to grow in maturity.
- Get accountability. You will need a team to help.
- Reprioritize. Establish your priorities around God’s priorities.
- Get a Plan. This may include the need for some further financial and biblical education about money. I recommend Dave Ramsey’s “Financial Peace” as well as Crown Financial studies through MBC Tysons. We will have another Money 101 workshop at MBC Arlington in June.
Trust me, there will never be a better time to address your debt and spending habits than when you are young. The habits you get into now will carry over when you are older. And if you’re not a Millennial, but a Gen Xer or even a Baby Boomer, and realize this describes you, it’s not too late. God wants to use you and your resources for much more than you can imagine! Don’t delay.