Thursday, June 20, 2013

Debt or not to Debt?

If you haven't read the previous post, then this will seem like a rant :) Click here for previous post

I'm Brian, the husband of this big, multi-colored family. I felt like posting to clarify the decision making behind our focus on becoming debt-free. In April, we went to a Christian home school conference (ATI, click here for previous post) and we met many families who were debt free. The wives and children talked about how it brought their family closer and how they serve the Lord together. Smiles and contentment are great, but the word of God stands the test of time. Here are my thoughts and findings:

“The rich rule over the poor, and the borrower is servant to the lender.” Proverbs 22:7

A focus on anything in itself can become idolatry. Even good things can be hoisted to take over the focus of our hearts and minds. The focus on getting debt free is due to our love for God, not the dream to be rich, carefree, or slothful. When God talks about debt it is in a negative context and our desire is to glorify Him.

God also calls me as a father to be a discipler of my wife (Eph 5:26) and children (Deut 11:19), to reflect Christ through an outpouring of love and sacrifice for my family. This can come in many forms. Work being one and life together being the other.

By working I show my children and family the value of hard work. and what it means to work as unto Christ. However today in America work has been turned into something to pay the bills and for some a place to get self worth. The job ultimately becomes your family due to needing to pay down the debt you incurred. Sadly the roles we are called to by God are skewed. The focus on debt, job, stress takes our view away from our family and even more importantly God Himself. The scriptures speak clearly of fleeing debt.

"Owe no one anything, except to love each other, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law." Romans 13:8

God sees us for the sinners we are. He knew that we would stray to worship things that we feel will satisfy us. He knew we would wade in the pools of debt even though He discourages it. He even set up requirements for loans in the Bible with a fair interest, or in the case of the poor no interest, and even a 7 year debt forgiveness (because Scriptures are clear that we shouldn't get ourselves into a debt we cannot guarentee to repay in 7 years). The borrower would become a servant to pay their dues (Click here for link to Five Biblical Principles about Borrowing). The main point is that debt is spoke of in a negative light. Due to the context of the Bible and my role as a father I really feel led to FLEE from debt. Debt free doesn't mean I will stop working and sit idle. God also speaks highly against slothfulness or laziness but there is a difference between going to the job with the focus on "how am I going to pay the bills" or "I need to make 45 hours this week" and going to a job because you love what you do and can truly focus on an opportunity to serve your Creator.

This is not a thought that quickly has popped into my head and been swiftly followed up on but a prayerful course since April.

I have sought wisdom and guidance from Christians who are living debt free. Their response was overwhelming! They spoke of how they could serve more, how they could financially help others and how freeing it felt.  I have also gotten feedback from those who aren't debt free. One of the hardest things with the shifting of a paradigm is that people who are still living in the old way of life (debt) may have a hard time visualizing a new way of life (debt-free). The main concerns sent to me as a father and husband are "is scaling down with a large family a good idea?" well, depends on your definition of "good". My kids will learn more about being good stewards of the money they've earned and we will most likely grow closer as we lay aside all the distractions that money affords. Also I would not be successfully married for 9 years without seeking the wise counsel of my wife before throwing her in an RV with 5 kids and saying, "See ya hunny, I'm off to work!". Another question I hear is "why not take it more slowly?" I reach back to the Bible where passages on debt speak of fleeing, "Deliver yourself like a gazelle from the hunter's hand And like a bird from the hand of the fowler" Proverbs 6:5. I could move slow, but I don't want to be a dead bird. Does that mean that people who might be concerned or not supportive of our debt-free journey are wrong? I would only respond with search the Scriptures and see where the Lord would lead you and your family. This is where the Lord has led us.

In 2 to 3 years we could be in a great situation. I hear from so many adults stories of being disappointed that their dad was so busy and never around. I don't want to be that dad. I want to be around. Not having to push in those extra hours each week to make our mortgage payment will make a big difference in my time with my family. Think of scaling back just 10 hours a week at work, that is 10 hours more to invest in the lives of your children and family. The joy and peace of coming home and not having to have a financial discussion of whether we can meet this month's list of bills, because if you think about it many couples list finances as their #1 reason for divorce.

The facts are this: My wife is important, my kids are a blessing not a burden, and I desire to focus my life on freeing my thoughts to God and not the things of this world.

Some may call me crazy. Some may call me careless. But it is not them who I answer to, it is my God. As for me and my house we will serve the Lord.

Posted by Brian
To God be the Glory!

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