Money. It's front and center in this world every day. It's a big deal. As a man, how should we think about it? If a man spends less than he earns and invests the difference over a long period of time, he most probably will accumulate a significant amount of wealth by the end of his days. However, is that the right goal? Solomon said in Ecclesiastes 5:10, "He who loves money will not be satisfied with money, nor he who loves wealth with his income." However, the idea of being wealthy and all that entails seems to be the goal of most men and, as a result, men fall into three common money traps. Let's address each one and establish some strategies to combat them.
1. Fear of Money
If you have a fear of money, (fear you won't have enough, fear you will be possessed by it, etc.), begin to be generous in sharing with others. Not only will the fear subside, but you will be blessed more than you could ever imagine.
One of thee tenets of being an Authentic Man is to be a life-changing spirit. The idea of earning money so we can use it to help bless others is very compelling. Jesus' quote, "It is more blessed to give than to receive," has been proven in the lives of many throughout the ages. I have seen that same principle played out in my own life as well as in the lives of scores of individuals and couples I have counseled through the years. Even the geography of the nation of Israel testifies to this:
There are two primary body of water in Israel. At the Sea of Galilee, there is fishing, boating, picnicking by the shore, etc. It is beautiful and full of life. However, at the Dead Sea, there is no fishing, no boating, and no picnicking by its shores, for it has no life and its water feels like oil. An interesting fact is that both bodies of water are fed by the same source. Why is one alive and the other dead? The answer is one "gives" and the other does not. The sea of Galilee is "alive". It is fed by the water table in northern Israel and has an outlet that "gives" to the Jordan River. The Jordan River runs south and feeds the Dead Sea. However, the Dead Sea is as it's name states—dead. The difference is that the Dead Sea has no outlet; it doesn't "give" its water to anything. It keeps it all, since it is the lowest place on the earth.
Want to overcome your fear of money? Give generously to others.
2. Unwise Debt
In today's western culture, a family of four has an average of $26,000 in consumer debt. When college debt is added, the total is $42,000.
Though Scripture doesn't prohibit acquiring debt, it clearly warns about the hazards of being in debt, "The borrower is the slave of the lender," Proverbs 22:7. Anyone who has ever been in significant debt knows the truth of that statement. Money you would like to use for something else has to be paid to the lender every month (for what seems like forever).
So what can be done?
If already in debt, simply decide to quit going further into debt—cut up the credit cards and start living on a budget which includes repaying debt more rapidly than paying the "minimum payment." Sure, there could be some pain involved; if you have been living above the standard of living your income would indicate while you were incurring debt, you most likely will have to live below that standard of living during debt repayment. That is what an Authentic Man does—rejects passivity, accepts responsibility, and courageously faces difficult choices, doing the right thing.
If you are considering borrowing money, I recommend that you have at least two methods to repay—one would be from income and the other would be from the asset you are borrowing against. That implies strongly that borrowing money for perishables (where most credit card debt is incurred) is never a good idea, because there is only one source for repayment; if emergencies come about or you lose your income, the debt can't be repaid. Borrowing money for automobiles is similar but not quite as bad, the second source of repayment (selling the car) may not work as well as you would like due to rapid depreciation in the value of the automobiles, especially if they are purchased new.
A home typically has two sources of repayment, if the down payment is large enough; however, in a financial downturn, the value of your home could drop below the amount you owe on your mortgage. So this isn't fool-proof. I recommend making sure a 15-year loan fits into the budget before committing to purchase a home—this will help reduce the size of the mortgage and help minimize the risk of such value decline.
One final word of wisdom regarding debt—don't guarantee the debt of another. Proverbs 6 clearly warns against this practice. If a lending institution doesn't believe they will be repaid, why should you think you will be repaid?
Finally, if you are married, I strongly recommend you both be in complete agreement before incurring any debt.
This money trap can be addressed by considering the message in 1 Chronicles 29:11-12 (as well as numerous other Scriptures). God owns everything—He owns it, and we manage it. We are His stewards.
The business world uses the term fiduciary in a similar manner; an example would be the trust department of a bank. Fiduciaries manage other peoples' money and can't spend the money for anything other than what the trust instrument dictates.
Luke 16:11-12 says, "Therefore if you have not been faithful in the use of unrighteous wealth, who will entrust the true riches to you? And if you have not been faithful in the use of that which is another's, who will give you that which is your own?"
If Authentic Men managed the Owner's money according to the "trust agreement" (Scripture), I wonder if the pursuit of materialism would be an issue? Matthew 6:33 says, "Seek first the Kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things [life provisions] will be added to you."
In summary, all traps are best negotiated when you know they are present and you have a strategy to address them. Money traps are no different. After looking through Session 5 from A Man and His Work, it will be easy to recognize that they are present. Adopting the strategies noted above should provide a way to navigate the traps in a way that will help you be an Authentic Man in this crucial area.
Mike Boschetti received his BSBA degree in accounting from the University of Arkansas. He earned his CPA certification in 1973 and practiced public accounting for the first 12 years of his career; his final position was as audit partner with Deloitte & Touche. Mike regularly provides financial counseling to individuals and couples as well as small businesses. He has a passion to utilize his analytical gifts and experience to coach others in financial and other life issues. Married to the former Starr Chenault in 1971, they have four grown married children and eleven grandchildren.This article is an excerpt from 33 The Series Volume 4: A Man and His Work. View Session 1 of A Man and His Work.