From the beginning of creation, humanity was given the responsibility to steward the creation. Genesis 1 makes clear that Adam and Eve, and through them all of humanity, were give the task of caring for and stewarding the earth. This command from God has far reaching implications. Christians are called to be good stewards of all that God has placed into our care; our time, money, relationships, possessions, and even the physical world including our bodies and the environment. This doesn’t mean we do not enjoy the creation or hoard what we have (see Matthew 25). Rather, we use wisely what God has given to us to steward so that we might be found faithful.
Our financial stewardship is an important part of what God calls us to use responsibly. Making wise financial decisions can be overwhelming sometimes. As college approaches and questions of how to pay for school, how to afford dorm costs, meal plans, and football tickets begin to raise worries. When these decisions have to be made we can feel paralyzed by all the choices in front of us.
The first piece of advice is to take a deep breath and carefully consider all the options so you can make a wise decision based on what you believe God is calling you to do. Here is the best part of this, you don’t have to know everything about what the future will look like in order to make a wise decision. You can make a good choice based on what you believe God is calling you to do through your gifts and skills. God uniquely equips every individual to do the task He has for each of us. We can also look to what our mentors are sharing with us. They have a great spot in our lives to see some of what God is doing in each of us. Trust their wisdom and advice as you make choices. Finally, spend time with the Lord and ask Him to give you direction. He is so faithful to lead us.
The second bit of advice is this, consider the long-term impact of your financial decisions. We hear all the time about how student loans keep people from buying houses, a car purchase, or even paying for everyday necessities. Student loans can also have an impact your ability to participate in various ministry opportunities. The International Mission Board and other sending organizations will consider the amount of debt you have as a part of the application process. A debt amount that is too high may delay the opportunity to serve in different capacities. Many churches in the United States are served by ministers who work in a secular position as well as the ministry job. The amount of debt you have from school will require you to find work that pays well enough to cover your debt costs and that might prevent you from serving your family and your church well.
The last bit of advice is a list of some tips for being prepared financially for college and future ministry opportunities.
- Do not get a credit card, no matter what they say about building your credit or fancy gift you can get for signing-up!
- Try to avoid, as much as possible, student loans. If you do take out a student loan, try to take out a minimal amount and only what is necessary for tuition.
- Live on a budget! Spend only what you have in the bank and try not to spend all of it!
- Save! Even if it is just a small amount each month. If you do that, you will be ahead of so many of your peers.
- Apply for every scholarship you can. There are so many out there. Don’t be afraid to ask the financial aid office for information on scholarships.
Financial conversations can be so awkward because they are so personal. Be willing to talk with your mentor, a financial advisor, or another person in your life that can help you make wise choices.
Most importantly, be a wise steward of what God has called you to do. Work hard to be equipped for what God has prepared for you.