Being a Better Steward...

Updated on September 30, 2011
S.M. asks from Lakeside, CA
9 answers

I was watching a message this last week about putting our financial house in order. This man is a business man, not really a pastor. But I would say that the message was a lot more like something a pastor would deliver than a business man. He talked a lot about what a loving father will do for his kid and what he wants for his kids. He gave an illustration about how he would behave towards his daughter if she blew through every dime he gave her and could not really give an accounting of it. He said that he would never let her starve or do without anything important. But he would never give her more money to handle if she could not be trusted.

So the man gave a lot of illustrations. But mostly it all boiled down to this... He said that many people give all the time out of a good heart. But they don't save any money and they end up in debt to their eyeballs. He went on to say that while they never do without anything important, they never get ahead either. God will bail them out of small crisis all the time, help them fix the car, pay the utilities on time, even pay the bills they have run up month to month. But, he'll never give them supernatural wealth unless they know how to handle money.

This is where I start to get confused by my own situation and motives. I have ZERO desire to have supernatural wealth or be in charge of a large amount of money. But some of the pastors I sit under say that it's selfish to just want to get by when the world is hurting and needs so much help. They believe that wealth should belong in the hands of the caring folks that will do good with it.

Okay... so giving this... Here are my two choices...

In 4 months I will pay off my van. In 2 weeks I'll be 45 years old. I've avoided, and struggled with the desire to go to school my entire adult life. I want to one day go to law school and I want to be involved in politics or help fight for certain things politically with strategic political law suits. But I'm starting from the GROUND up educationally speaking.

When the van is paid off, I could put all my money towards paying off my debts and with careful living, I could be debt free in about 5 years. OR, I could just keep going in the direction I'm going and go to school at the same time. If I pay my bills at the rate I am paying them today, I'll be about 1/2 out of debt in 5-7 years and I could be out of debt and through school by the time I'm 60! Do I even bother? Is it wrong to even consider going to school when I could put all my extra money towards someone elses school that is younger and has more of a chance to do great things?

In today's world, we can easily live to be 80, 90, or even 100 years old. I don't smoke or drink and I never have. I learn more and more all the time about the way to eat. There is no guarantee that a younger person would live longer either since any of us can be in an accident at any time.

I'm praying about all this of course. :) I'm open to ideas. But one thing I don't think would work well would be to work on the debt first and then school later. I'm not getting any younger! :)

What can I do next?

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So What Happened?

Actually, the reason I was saying it would be 15 years to get through school is because it would be ALL part-time, even during law school and I would pay as I go. I wouldn't be getting any debt. I'd be switching from my daycare business to paralegal work before I went to law school. As far as working for someone else, that's up to God. I could easily see myself hanging out my shingle and working for myself. I don't see becoming a lawyer as a money making thing any better or above what I've earned in my daycare all my life. I believe that the legal profession is in some cases way over paid. There will never be any shortage of people needing legal counsel that can't really afford to plop down big retainers. I could see myself working and volunteering to help woman that are in custody battles, trying to get away from abusive men, and I could talk forever. I believe that money comes when we are doing the work that God assigns us. But it doesn't ALWAYS come from the places we expect.

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answers from Los Angeles on

Good for you for thinking through these questions. I generally don't post answers to these big-life questions, given that I know almost zero about the poster, but this is an exception. I'm a lawyer, and the big news in the field these past few years is how many lawyers there are, and how few jobs there are. Some recent law students are even suing their schools for fraud - they feel the schools promoted how easy it is to get a job, when the jobs are not there (frivolous lawsuits, but hey - they have a law degree and lots of time on their hands). Things might change in 15 years, but this is something to consider. Also - hanging up a shingle right out of law school is really difficult and, in my opinion, a bad idea. Just like physicians out of medical school usually do a residency to really learn how to practice, new lawyers should be doing the same thing (practicing with experienced attorneys), for their own sake and the sake of their clients. And please do not believe the claim that simply winning a few cases will get you totally out of debt. Large contingency fee awards are few and far between, and generally go to more experienced plaintiffs attorneys (and take years and years of work to get to trial anyway).

If you are dedicated to becoming a lawyer, then do what you need to do to make it work for you. Otherwise, consider talking to a career counselor about other professions that help people or promote political reform. You might get there faster with less financial investment.

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answers from Redding on

If you become a lawyer and win a few cases you'd be totally out of debt in a heart beat. I'd go to school if you have the opp to do it and can afford your regular monthly debt. Debt is always with us, being debt free is a pipedream that these people keep trying to push. Do what you can with what you have and make it work.

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answers from Norfolk on

God helps those who help themselves.
Take care of yourself first and eventually you will be in a better position to help others.

As far as supernatural wealth goes -
I see a church property on almost every corner.
And rec centers, parking lots and meeting buildings.
Most are not open to the homeless.
A few serve soup kitchens, but most do not.
I don't see a lot of religious organizations rushing to sell off and liquidate their vast holdings/properties so they can give to the poor.
I'd be a lot more impressed with the message of giving to others if they led by example.
Take financial advice with a grain of salt especially from someone who's eye-ing up your wallet.

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answers from Los Angeles on

If one advances confidently in the directions of his dreams, and endeavors to live the life which he has imagined, he will meet with a success unexpected in common hours.

Henry David Thoreau

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answers from Sioux City on

Pay off your debt and then go to school. Your paster is a bit twisted on his theology. Money can be a curse or a blessing. It all depends on the temptations one has in dealing with money. God blesses all with what they need to get to heaven. Christ the second person of the trinity lived a very humble life and we are to follow him. He didn't go in debt he payed what he owed along the way.

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answers from San Francisco on

I don't really consider it selfish if you want to invest your money in your education as opposed to someone else's. One thing you didn't seem to account for, however, are the HUGE debts you will run up going to law school. Your van payment is nothing compared to the payments you will have to make on your student loans. That being said, I work in the legal industry right now and I personally don't think anyone should be running up these huge debts to become a lawyer because once you've passed the bar, there are no jobs available. Most of the young lawyers who are passing the bar this year end up volunteering somewhere so that they can hone their skills because there are absolutely no paying jobs available. I just recently began working where I am now, and the only way I got the job was this attorney is a friend of my former employer who had to lay me off. He has also laid off two other employees and he's a certified criminal law specialist! Anyway, my current employer told me that he posted his open position on Craigs List and within 24 hours, had more than 25 resumes, some from attorneys who are willing to work as a paralegal because they can't find a job as an attorney! Anyway, just something to think about. Also, back to your question, who's to say that if you do invest your money in someone else's education, that they will complete the education and reach the desired goal? The only person you can count on for sure is yourself.

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answers from Seattle on

You are the answer to my PRAYERS.

I think you SHOULD go to school. You deserve to go to school. We need you to go to school. Even at 45 you are the future. you are fresh life brought to a fight. And I think the fight you want to enter is very awesome....I am going into Political Science....I dont want to just be the mouth shouting on a mom board anymore...I love it here...but my time would be better served out with the flesh.

Debt does need to be focused on. You know that. But school is something you can use to help pay that down.

I am gonna take this time to share..In hopes to sort of redeem and put in place WHO I AM....

I am unemployed. Meaning I dont not have a physical job at the moment.

I am however working with some great Professors to hopefully create some work for me. I was given a chance to draw...which has always been one of my Passions...and natural Talents.

I have not received a pay check yet. Everything I am working on right now is in HOPE that I can get a paycheck eventually.

I DO plan on going back to school Winter quarter. I missed the deadline for Fall....

When I was 20...I dropped out of College. I had been injured...SO I no longer was dancing. I grew bitter. Ended up working Retail Management for 12 years.....

After having kids I did go back to work..on and off. It was only as we needed it because we could not afford child care and refused to apply for assistance.

In 2010 I hit and severely injured and little boy who cut in front of me while I was making a right turn. It was a blind turn and I had stopped but he was to far up the hill for me too see him.

I was jello from August 20th until the Tuesday after Mother's day this year.

After almost dying froom an eating disorder..and having to have emergency surgery to have gallbladder removed......I knew I could not go on like this.

I started really talking with god. He told me to reach out to you guys.

You better freaking believe you guys were my miracle.

I have had to kinda figure out who this NEW ME was...This summer has been rough because I have new motivation for life....Only one out let other then facebook to fight loudly on...And I get beat down hard.

My point to this story is.....And yes I am trying to have one...

I was never taught by mom parents how to be wise with money.

In fact my mom was alot of my problem...My whole life she had credit card debt following her...She still does.

My Mother in law is now teaching my how to budget....Shop only off a list and encourages me to clip coupons(she does not do this for herself...but she does buy me extra papers so I have lots of them to clip)...Although at 28 it is a bit embarrassing...I am a work in progress.

If it is debt that you can slowly pay on...minimums or a bit is well worth making it work.

You could also try and maybe consolidate your debt. WE just finished paying off my dental stuff that was emergency stuff...That is saving us 117 buck a month to be put towards my almost 100k in medical bills.

I am not sure what Financial stuff you will qualify for but that is also something to look into!!

I am so excited for your possible new venture!!

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answers from Houston on

Our church teaches the only acceptable reason to go purposefully o into debt is for education. Obviously, things come up, we need to buy homes, sometimes emergencies and medical bills happen. For this reason we are asked to remain out of debt, live below our means, live modestly (not be house poor buy splurging on a home out of our budget...) and to build our savings and an emergency fund. At the same time, we are asked to give an honest tithe and fast offering and to do charity work. It is very difficult to give tithing and not to be able to afford many basics that our friends have, but there are blessings for the sacrifices we make.

I am sure there is a way you can begin to pay off your debts now. You can still go to school, perhaps qualify for grants or scholarships, but I would still get out of that debt. No need to do the first 2 years in a huge private university, do them at a community college and save lots of money. Really though, we have $40,000 in student loan debt and my husband only has a bachelors. But we have no other debts, but we struggle to pay the $800 a month student loan payments b/c my husband's job barely pays, and it's a good gov't job. So, you have to weigh your options. Law school in intensive, and highly competitive. There really are not that many jobs available for new law school grads. After your first 2 or 4 years, you can decide if you really want to pursue it continuing in law. I have a few attorney friends. Some love it and are totally wealthy working 80 hours a week, some hate it, some are having a hard time making ends up... and law school loans are crazy expensive. One friend went to law school and dropped out b/c they hated it. Not all attorneys are paid highly either. All you can do is begin. Sadly, age is a big thing in the corporate world. Being 60 when you are done can be a mark against you, for firms looking for young, charismatic attorneys. Not to mention having to intern or volunteer work to try and get your foot in the door. But then again, people beat the odds every day.

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answers from Williamsport on

There is no need to concentrate all your time and energy getting out of debt in 5 years and NOT going to school. That helps no ones' big picture. Debtors are more than happy to have you take longer and pay more interest-not that interest is good, just sayin', you're not disappointing anyone by not getting out of debt FASTER.

If you are a responsible and ethical person who is not racking up any NEW unnecessary debt on shopping sprees, then just continue making your payments, be wise about which school courses to take first on your life plan and do that.

It's good to think so broadly about your reasons for things, but really, lots of idiots score huge fortunes and lose all their money. Lots of supernaturally wealthy people waste tons of money and do nothing good with it. Lots of responsible, generous, caring and talented people never get their hands on lots of money. Don't worry about fate and God's will so much-although yes, God wants you to live your life the best way you can.

Follow your dreams, work hard, do the right things, and you will go far. If you do good things for people, you will be happier, they will be happier, and rewards will come. At 45, you don't want to be disappointed in yourself from now on-you may be only half way through life! Lots of people are starting new ventures and projects and books and creative endeavors in their 50's and 60s with all their life's wisdom to back them up! Keep enriching yourself until the day you die, no matter what.

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