Twenty years ago I was the poorest I’ve ever been in my life. I was also pregnant and unmarried. And to make matters even harder, my doctor ordered me on 24/7 bed rest because of a dangerous health condition that threatened the life of my unborn son. So, I went from dirt poor to beyond destitute at the worst possible time. I lived off of food stamps, Medicaid and welfare during that time and the $200 a month handout I received literally kept me alive for about a year. But it was during those challenges that I learned a lot about who God is, as well as four important life lessons about how to win.
Step 1: Trust God
When I became hungry enough, lonely enough, and broke enough, I finally cried out to God to save me. Trying real hard just wasn’t good enough…it was a matter of life or death. I needed the one who controlled the universe to move on my behalf. And when I finally put my life in His hands He provided for me in miraculous ways. From food and shelter to diapers and a crib, I was given everything I ever needed…and mostly from strangers I didn’t even know. I would not have survived without His intervention. Trusting Him was the most important decision of my life and the only way I accomplished the next steps in my journey.
Step 2: Assume Personal Responsibility
God moved me to cancel my government assistance before I had a paycheck coming in. Even though welfare had helped me through a difficult time, I felt like God wanted me to depend on Him instead. So with a knot in my stomach and doubt in my mind, I stepped out in faith. Soon thereafter, God miraculously provided me with a job…with full benefits. It was the perfect job too, one I had not even applied for, which set me up for my entire career.
I also learned that it was my responsibility to take care of everything God had given me, which included my son, the small amount of material things I owned, and even my skills and talents. That doesn’t mean I didn’t share my needs with others, or even receive help that was offered at times. But I learned how to manage my time and I worked hard with every opportunity that presented itself. I also allowed myself to be accountable to people I trusted, who challenged me to grow. Once I had learned to manage all those things well, God gave me even more.
Step 3: Obey Scripture
Reading the Bible was a critical step in getting to know who God is and what my role as a steward meant. The more I studied Scripture, the more I realized I needed to get free of debt and unshackle myself from the bondage I was in with credit card companies. I put a plan together to pay off everything I owed, which I expected would take two years. I was living paycheck to paycheck so I begged God for His help along the way. And sure enough, He showed up. Through more miraculous events, which included extra work and unforeseen refunds, I became debt-free in half the time I predicted it would take. That was a huge step towards feeling secure and peaceful…not to mention it deepened my faith.
Step 4: Budget
Getting out of debt, staying out of debt, and being a good money manager is dependent on having a written budget plan, and sticking to it. I’m a bit of a nerd so I use an excel spreadsheet to account for every penny I earn and spend. Before I even receive my paycheck, I spend it on paper first. Then I have freedom to spend my real dollars without fear. Plus, it’s easier to overcome temptation and impulse buying when I know what my money has been delegated for. My budget has become my prized possession because of the amazing freedom it has bought me. Setting and meeting financial goals each month has also given me a great sense of accomplishment. It’s very true that if you aim for nothing, you will get there every time.
Working through these steps was difficult at first, even painful at times. But, the more I stuck to them, the more I began to win. And now, twenty years later, these things are such an integral part of who I am, it’s like breathing. And the payoff has been huge… emotionally, spiritually and financially.
If you want to win with your finances, then trust God and obey His Word. You’ll be amazed at what happens when you do. You’ll find an abundance of peace and freedom, including the ability to be generous to others…which is truly priceless.