THE PROSPERITY GOSPEL and The Tithe Doctrine give people the impression that they can tithe their way out of debt into wealth. These types of doctrines also create a culture within the church that overemphasizes supernatural breakthroughs as the means of solving money problems.
If you listen to a typical sermon about prosperity you would think that all you have to do to get out of debt is to have faith, pay so-called tithes, touch three people, give your neighbor a high-five, and run around the church.
If only it were that simple. But that is the catch with these doctrines, everything sounds so simple.
Let’s face it there is a part of our human nature that wants quick, easy solutions to our problems. And that explains one of the reasons why such doctrines appeal to so many Christians.
Aside from oversimplifying real debt-relief solutions, these doctrines overlook the importance of personal responsibility. Debt is the result of choices that people make. Chances are the way you got into debt will be the way you get out of debt. In other words, you get out of debt by making different choices. This usually means doing the opposite of what got you in debt in the first place.
People do not get into debt through supernatural means. So it is amazing how some folk are always looking for supernatural ways of getting out of debt.
This brings me to another shortcoming of these supernatural-breakthrough type doctrines. And that is the fact that the doctrines do not equip people with the tools and/or information they need for getting out of debt.
People are not given practical solutions to their money problems. I do not mean any harm, but you can not “buck and shout” your way into a wealthy place.
Getting out of debt requires good stewardship.
What is stewardship?
Stewardship is the careful and responsible management of something entrusted to one’s care (Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary, Tenth Edition).
Here are 5 tips that will help you avoid debt, manage debt and/or get out of debt. These tips are the fundamental components of good stewardship.
1. Distinguish Between Needs and Wants
Needs are required for our survival. Wants are those extra creature comforts that we would like to have, but are not necessary for our survival. Our basic necessities are food, water, shelter and clothes. Anything beyond these basics such as fancy foods, expensive bottle water, million dollar homes and name-brand clothing are examples of wants.
There is nothing wrong in getting what you want from time-to-time. In fact, enjoying the things you want adds to the quality of your life. It is also part of living a balanced life. Just make sure that what you want is something you can afford.
And speaking of that…
2. Live Within Your Means
Make a list of your expenses. See where you are spending money. Cut back and/or limit unnecessary spending. Prepare a budget, and stick with it. Trying to live a caviar lifestyle on a McDonald’s budget is not the way to go.
3. Limit the Use of Credit Cards
Credits cards are best used when you can pay off the balance each month. If you must use a credit card find one with no annual fee and a low interest rate (i.e., 11.99% or less). Whenever possible, use cash for purchases. Also, consider using a debit card as an alternative.
4. Save Money
As a rule of thumb saving 10 percent from each paycheck is a good starting point. If you can save more then do so. Ideally, it is best that you have enough money set aside to cover at least 6 to 12 months of your basic necessities (utilities, rent/mortgage, car note, etc.). Misfortunes happen in life (job loss, illness, divorce, etc.). When you have money saved you ca keep things afloat while you are getting back on your feet.
Often saving money requires cutting back and/or eliminating those wants or creature comforts we are accustomed to such as eating out everyday, buying Starbucks or using expensive Smartphones.
Just think about this, if you spend $5 a day on a fast food lunches 5 days a week that adds up to $1200 a year. You can add that money to your savings just by brown bagging your lunch everyday.
There always things you can go without that can help you save for rainy day.
5. Give to Those in Need
Give from your abundance. Your abundance is what you have left over after paying your household expenses and putting money aside for your savings. Giving is a spiritual principle. From a spiritual standpoint giving and receiving are one and the same. It is called the Law of Reciprocity. Every time we give we are generating a continuous flow of abundance in our life. Keep in mind that giving is not limited to money.
What? No Hype
You see these are not the types of tips that are typically taught in church. I guess this is not taught because it does not make folk fall out in the church. Whatever the reason, when it comes to managing money or getting out of debt you do not hype, emotionalism and seductive doctrines that “sound” biblical.
What is needed is a renewing of the mind and a change in spending habits. Is this easier said than done? Yes, especially when we exist in a society that thrives on materialism, consumerism and debt. Nevertheless, you can master your money.
“I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me (KJV)”
Do you have any tips? Please share.