Money is Spiritual: Are You Bearing the Cross of Money?
When I left the ministry in 2010 I knew I was about to start one of the most important educations of my life.
I was enrolling in a degree on money.
Have you taken the course yet? Grueling! And it’s not cheap.
Even though my church was good to me, I hadn’t had a significant raise since I’d been there. In fact, shortly after I became the pastor in 1996, I took a pay cut and pretty much stayed there for the rest of my ministry until it ended in 2010.
Why did this happen? Because I thought it was the right thing to do. I thought it was very spiritual of me.
Just before leaving the ministry, Lisa and I had to file for personal bankruptcy. That’s a whole other story, and I’ll share it with you in a later installment. The point is, when I left my full time job as a pastor, I was completely broke and broken. I could see no way out and no way forward. I instinctively knew that if I was going to refit for the real world I was going to have to figure out how to develop a functional relationship with money. Not only money, but business, marketing, promoting, selling, and even valuing my own work.
An idea came to my mind I knew was going to be a part of my education. It concerns Thomas Merton. When he entered the monastery as a young novice, he was looking forward to leaving his writing behind, including his journaling. But his spiritual director had other plans. He told Merton that he should continue his journaling. Writing was a cross he was going to have to bear. What Merton thought was an egocentric endeavor became a unique way for a monk and eventually a hermit to sacrificially serve the world. Indeed, his journals are some of the most important contributions to spirituality. Including mine.
How this connected to my situation is convoluted but powerful nevertheless.
You may be thinking, “Oh come on! That’s a stretch!”
But hear me out: when I left the ministry I also wanted to leave money issues behind and not think about it anymore. It was a long, constant, relentless, and merciless battle that I wanted to abandon. I wanted to figure out a way to just mindlessly earn money and not deal with my deeply flawed issues around it. Let’s call it denial. But I felt deep in my bones that it was going to be otherwise. Money… learning how understand the truth about it, how to heal my unhealthy beliefs around it, and form a functional relationship with it… was a cross I was going to have to reluctantly bear.
I tell you this because I’ve come to believe that learning the truth about money, appreciating money, and having money, is valid. We need to have a healthy relationship with it. Whether we have little or lots, if we don’t have a healthy mindset about money then it will hold power over us. To me, it’s like any relationship: if we ignore it or obsess over it, it will affect our lives in extremely negative and damaging ways.
This is why I’m conducting this study. This is why I’m sharing my relational journey with money with you. Because I claim most of us have a dysfunctional relationship with money and, if we can heal it, we can open the door to a happier life.
I think this particularly applies to pastors leaving the ministry. Believe me, I know how hard it is. Money was one of the hardest parts. But this also applies to people who are experiencing a traumatic change in their beliefs, faith, church, and religion. Sick attitudes prevail in religious cultures.
What I’ve found is we must emerge out of our false and negative hangups about money if we want to get on with our lives and enjoy them.
Are you a pastor leaving the ministry? Or are you someone who’s going through deep changes in your faith? I facilitate an online community for people like you. But I also coach people one-on-one through these traumatic transitions. Read more about my coaching services HERE.