During a recent pre-marital counseling session, I cautioned the rapturously happy couple about “the big three.” No, I don’t think Ford, General Motors, and Chrysler are perpetrators of marital strife. In a marriage relationship (and in any relationship), the “big three” relationship killers are money, intimacy, and children.

Most of us are pretty excited about intimacy, so we’ll avoid that topic for now. As for the kids, the law pretty much tells us we’ve got to take care of ‘em, so we’ll push that topic too. That leaves money.

It’s time to rap about the Benjamins, yo!

(I’m quite sure that sound you just heard was Aristophanes rolling over in his grave.)

In all seriousness, your level of financial responsibility is commensurate with your level of stress. By the way, financial stress doesn’t limit its devastation to your financial life. You’ll soon find anxiety has permeated into every other facet of your life.

So, if you’re part of the majority of Americans who have too much month left at the end of the money, consider these tips as the first steps on your journey to financial peace:

  1. Build a rainy day fund
    Let’s face it: cars break down, kids get sick, and roofs leak. While you can’t anticipate the exact nature of an unforeseen emergency, you can plan for something. Having a rainy day fund to pay for emergencies reduces part of the stress associated when dealing with the unexpected.
  1. Develop a budget
    It’s pretty tough to know how to control your financial life without knowing how your money is being spent. Stop what you’re doing a prepare a realistic budget. If you’re married, set aside some time to talk with your spouse about developing a budget together.
  1. Prioritize your expenses
    Now that you’ve got a budget in place, you may discover you don’t have enough income to match your desired outgo. That’s a bummer, but it’s also a reality for most of us. It’s time to be brutally honest about what needs to be cut.
  1. Be obedient to the One who gave it all in the first place
    God asks you to give back to Him. I know what you’re thinking… if God already has everything, why does He need some of my money? You’re right–God doesn’t need it, but God commands you to practice the discipline of giving to teach you to put God first in your life (Deuteronomy 14:23). Tithing is a reminder that God is the supplier of everything you have. Also, it’s God’s personal invitation to receive more good stuff from Him.

In Malachi 3:10, God said, ” Bring all the tithes into the storehouse so there will be enough food in my Temple. If you do,” says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies, “I will open the windows of heaven for you. I will pour out a blessing so great you won’t have enough room to take it in! Try it! Put me to the test!” God has given a guarantee of blessing–it may not always be a financial blessing (in spite of what you may have heard from other pastors!), but I’ll trust God with whatever He wants to give me.

  1. Find people who will train and encourage you
    Anything worth having requires hard work and steadfast discipline. That’s pretty tough to come by, even on your best day. Thankfully, you don’t have to overcome your financial challenges on your own. Beginning Tuesday, October 4, The Church @ Clayton Crossings will offer Financial Peace University by Dave Ramsey, a nine-week course that will teach you God’s ways of handling money. As with anything of value, there is a fee for course materials ($100 per person or couple), but you’ll discover principles that will save you MUCH MORE than your original investment.

There is a limit to the number of people who can attend the course, so you’ll want to reserve your spot as soon as possible. You can find the RSVP link by finding the course listing at claytoncrossings.com/groups or by following this link.

What I need to remember:

  • LORD’S SUPPER. We’re going to observe the Lord’s Supper on this Sunday morning in both services.
  • BAPTISM Our next baptism is scheduled for both services on Sunday, September 25. Allow your church family to celebrate the transformation Jesus has made in your life. Sign up for more info here.

What I’m reading:

  • I haven’t taken the time to read much this week–I’ve been doing a lot of writing lately (a communication and style guide for the staff, finished the final edits for our community group leader guide, and several articles for our in-house knowledge base).  I’m looking forward to putting my journalistic feet up for a while…

About me:
John Sanders is the non-stuffy pastor at The Church at Clayton Crossings. His primary mission is to lead people to find and follow Jesus. Additionally, he longs to write like the child of Aaron Sorkin and Dave Barry, preach like W.A. Criswell, look like Bradley Cooper, and eat like he’s seventeen years old. A more complete (and less snarky) bio can be found here.

Let’s be friends: