Shortly after leaving college and getting married, my friend Chris and his wife felt a calling to move to Europe and begin working with those less fortunate. They also wanted to be under the guidance of an organization that would help send them overseas. With a good number of agencies working in and around Europe, their hopes were high and they were excited to be sharing in the same unique calling. And while the calling was in sync, the timing apparently was not.
Debt was the culprit as multiple agencies declined partnering with the family. Both being relatively recent college graduates, Chris and his wife had a combined student loan debt of almost $90,000 between them. Because fundraising meant asking for others to sacrificially give to support the family’s expenses, it became obvious to the mission agencies that a majority of this donor-raised support would be dedicated to student loan payments, so they were told they could not be sent overseas until their debt was more manageable.
Debt can seem normal and needed (“everyone’s doing it”) until it starts to place demands on your life. Debt loads us down with financial burdens that keep us from things like financial freedom, generosity, and saving for future needs. We look to those who have money (and therefore who we borrow from) to provide for us what we can’t provide for ourselves…and what we won’t wait for.
An ancient proverb states, “the borrower is slave to the lender.” Meaning what? Well, in addition to stories like Chris’, above, it means having to go to your debtors first when money comes in, paying them off and only then exercising your freedom with the rest. The more things we obligate ourselves to each month, the less “free” we are to do what we want to do with our finances – whether that’s helping others or getting ready for the future.
We need to show debt to the door, escort it out, and triple-bolt the door behind it. Make a budget (other posts on this blog can help you), don’t get discouraged, don’t lose hope, keep at it! Our futures and the futures of those whom we can influence depend on it.