Well, the time has finally arrived. It’s time to talk about the “D” word.
You guessed it—DEBT.
Although most Americans have debt, very few people want to think about it or talk about it. We’ve come to accept it as common, a necessity of life. Often it is ignored, until it grows out of control. Then it becomes the catalyst that drives us to start putting our financial house in order. At least that’s how it happened in our family.
I remember it like it was yesterday. It was a bright, sunny morning in May. As my Mom walked back from getting the mail her face was filled with shock and terror. She was reading a letter from the bank saying that we owed thousands of dollars. Immediately, she called my Dad to tell him there was a mistake. After all, he’d been telling us for years that we were living debt-free and our account with that bank was a savings account. Knowing there was no way to escape the truth, he admitted that we actually owed over double the amount on the bank statement. In just a few minutes, our entire lives changed.
I wish I could say that our story was extraordinary and uncommon; however, I’ve learned over the years that it isn’t. All across the country, people are waking up in the morning to find the consequences of their debt coming back to haunt them. For some, the wakeup call comes when the foreclosure papers arrive in the mail. For others, it comes daily as the telephone rings, bearing tidings from the collection agency. Maybe you were denied a loan for a life necessity because your debt load was too great. Perhaps you’re one of the growing numbers of spouses waking up to the reality that you are now responsible for your spouse’s secret debt---a victim of financial infidelity.
We hear about it on the news every night. The country went on a spending spree and now it’s time to wake up and face the reality that our debts need to be paid. But where do you begin?
The best place to start is on your knees. Believe it or not, before you can start dealing with the financial results of the debt, you need to deal with the heart issues that caused the debt.
Take a moment and think about this: Debt is not the cause of your financial problems; it is the result of a heart problem. Debt is the result of poor, unwise choices that people make. Before we can start solving our “debt” problem, we need to first examine our hearts and ask, “What problems inside of me created this debt?”
For example, it wasn’t just my Dad’s secret debt that was exposed the day the letter from the bank came in the mail. The debt was just a symptom of some major heart issues that needed to be addressed and overcome. Some of those issues included my Dad’s pattern of abuse and control. He insisted on complete control of our finances and used abusive tactics to maintain that control. Seeing the truth about this made us realize how many other areas of our lives were affected by his abusive, controlling ways. My Mom, my brother and I had to look at and overcome our tendency toward accepting abuse. Even more than we needed financial counseling, we needed counseling and spiritual deliverance to overcome our issues with abuse.
Another issue that had to be addressed and overcome was my Dad’s issues with lying and deceit. We found out he wasn’t just lying to us about money---again this was just a symptom of a heart problem. There were lots of lies that had to be addressed and truth that had to be revealed. Through this process, my brother and I realized that issues with lying and keeping secrets had crept into our lives. If we didn’t repent and kill these tendencies before they bloomed, we would eventually repeat my Dad’s sins.
These were just a few of the “heart issues” that created our debt issue. Other things we had to address included: our fears about not having money, a poverty mentality passed down from our grandparents, and a generational iniquity of selfishness in the men in my family. Before we could become financially healthy, we needed to become spiritually healthy. Otherwise, we would have paid off our debt only to incur another one because we didn’t change the behavioral patterns that created the debt.
Hence, the first step to dealing your debt and your family’s debt is spending time in prayer asking God to show you what heart issues or sin in your life caused you to create the debt in the first place. For instance:
Are you selfish?
Do you have unmet childhood needs that you fill with things?
Are you insecure? Do you purchase things you can’t afford to impress people, prove you are successful, or keep up with the Jones’?
Do you try to buy people’s love?
Are you lazy about managing God’s money or being a good steward?
Is it easier to pay people to do things for you than it is to do them yourself?
Are you addicted to spending? Do you use shopping to get an adrenaline high?
Are you materialistic? Do you need expensive things, a big house, a fancy car to feel important?
Are you jealous?
Are you angry at someone?
Do you lie and keep secrets?
Are you impatient? Do you want what you want when you want it?
Do you hoard things because you’re afraid you won’t have enough?
Do you have a fear of being poor or a poverty mentality?
Are you afraid of what people will think if you say “No, I can’t afford this?”
These are just a few questions to ask yourself, but there are many, many more heart issues that could be causing you to spend money you don’t have and go into debt. The only way to find YOUR answers is to spend time with God asking Him to show you the secrets of your heart so you can repent and change.
Once you've address the issues of your heart, you'll be ready to start conqueroring your debt. Next month, we'll give you practical steps to get started.
Looking for More Biblical Teaching on Finances? Check out our Video Series, "Five Minute to Financial Freedom"