Changing My Money Habits

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“Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much, and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much.”                Luke 16:10

 

I am doing a Bible study on finances – long overdue, actually. My history with money is full of wrong motives and attitudes. In fact, I’m pretty positive that God has shaken His head in exasperation with me in this area more than once. I know my husband has! Thankfully, both have shown me lots of grace while nudging me to grow.

This verse from Luke was part of my reading yesterday, and it really started me thinking about how my own habits haven’t always reflected this ideal. It’s easy to say, “Small amounts of money don’t really matter – it’s the big stuff that counts.” But that’s not true.

I spent many years as a teen and young adult hoarding change and $1 bills. If I could earn or scrounge up coins or paper, I’d stick them in my pocket or purse. Then I’d either spend it on something cheap or squirrel it away. The way I approached spending money for that part of my life had quite a selfish ring to it: I earned it/found it so it’s mine to spend how I want. Even after I accepted Christ, I bucked at the idea that I had to give my money away, because it felt unfair. Sure, I was willing to tithe weekly, but not much beyond.

Now I’m thinking back to all those little bits of money and how much good they might have done if I’d shared them. Such a small amount wouldn’t have changed the world, but parting with it would have changed me for the better. As I do this study, I realize how clutching money, whether in my hand or my mind, shows a lack of respect for God’s provision and for His plans.

I want to be like the servants in the Parable of the Talents, who invest what they’ve been given wisely. Because with the right mindset, even the smallest amount can be used to grow the Kingdom. And like them, I want to see the smile of pleasure on my Master’s face at the end of my work!

Subbing

I work as a substitute teacher in a couple of area school districts. This is actually the second time around. I tried it about 20 years ago, when I was much younger and very clueless – needless to say it didn’t go well.

In the decades between then and last year I worked as a preschool teacher and raised two kids. Both those experiences made me better at interacting with children and using what my kids call the “mom” scowl. (Don’t underestimate the disciplinary power of a good scowl!)

As I did those first early assignments, my attitude wasn’t right. I had been trying to prove my worth by, among other things, what job I had. Substitute teaching felt like the bottom rung of the ladder, and I was a bit ashamed to be doing it. And I lacked the humility to learn from my mistakes and misjudgments. I was miserable every day, and I’m sure the students could tell.

Luckily, by the time I decided to try again last year, God had taught me a few things. There were two especially faulty beliefs I had been holding on to.

  • I was trying to impress everybody, especially myself, by what I did
  • I was expecting perfection in every area of my life

Do either of those sound familiar to you? If they do, you know how exhausting they are to lug around all the time. And you know how they keep you feeling bad about yourself.

So how did God start breaking me free and getting me ready to sub again? For starters, He changed my focus. In my old mindset, I was very me-centered: How do I look? Am I good enough? Compare that with fixing my gaze on God, and seeing His majesty, feeling His acceptance.

Then, He helped me grow in humbleness. I thought turning up the pressure to perform would motivate me to stop making mistakes. But the only thing that did in the end was make me more anxious and discouraged. God wanted to show me grace and grow me in wisdom instead, but I had to drop the illusion of becoming perfect.

As I drove into school this morning, I prayed for God’s help to be a servant to the teachers and children, and for His Holy Spirit to be in the classrooms. And as I looked over the teacher’s plans for me, I reminded myself that doing my best was enough.

It was a good day.