QHow do I invite God into my financial decision-making?
aMoney can be an emotionally charged topic. We often view it as "good" or "bad." But in truth, money is merely a tool. Any tool, be it a hammer, a knife, a chainsaw, or money can be used for great good or great evil. And notice that no one ever says, "How do I invite God into my decision-making about how I will use my chainsaw?" It sounds silly! But because money evokes such strong emotions, we often get bogged down in how to bring the Lord into our financial lives. It all boils down to whether or not we use the tool of money in service to the Lord, the neighbor, and lastly, the self.
QPeople tell me to 'trust in God'...but I feel I need to do something about my financial situation. How can I do both?
aWell, we have to live in the natural world and this means handling the tool called "money." A true craftsman lovingly cares for his or her tools and has big plans for them! Not because he or she loves the tools in and of themselves, but because of what these tools can do in the service of others, including his or her own family. Spending foolishly and not saving for a rainy day is (of course) not what is meant by trusting in the Lord. Rather, it means understanding on a deep level that, regardless of our best laid plans for our earthly wellbeing, His plan is for our eternal wellbeing.
QWhat habits/patterns could I teach my children about inviting God into life, even the mundane financial side?
aMy advice is a little different than the norm but it has worked well for us: strive to teach them what it means to be a New Church steward through modeling and open discussions. On a practical level, instead of an allowance, provide opportunities for meaningful work with meaningful pay. Give them autonomy with their money: allow them to earn, spend, save, and give as they see fit. Yes, when you give them autonomy, they will make mistakes, sometimes very painful ones. But experience is the best teacher and giving them autonomy allows them to make mistakes in relative safety, learning as they go, before they head out on their own.
Marah Boyesen teaches personal finance to high school seniors at the Academy of the New Church Secondary Schools (www.ancss.org). She is married to Eyvind Boyesen, also a teacher. Together, they have three children, ages 6, 12, and 15.