False Humility and Money
My religious hangup about money was the greatest contributor to my financial struggle while in the ministry.
This hangup continued to plague me after I left the ministry, preventing me from getting paid what I was worth.
Yes, there’s often a definite link between how we value ourselves and getting paid well.
Okay… I’m going to break here because I suspect some of you are thinking, “This talk about money and earning more is kinda grossing me out. This isn’t spiritual at all!” I suspect this because I can hear that voice inside my own head! So, I’m going to address it because that is precisely the reason why I’m writing this series.
Even though I felt I had skills, talents, abilities, and that I was even gifted, deep down there lied deep insecurities about who I was and what I did. Now, in religious contexts, the go-to method of coping with this is to label it humility.
But it’s a false humility. True humility is having an accurate opinion of yourself: not thinking more highly of yourself than you actually are, but also not thinking more lowly of yourself than you actually are. True humility is knowing exactly who you are and behaving accordingly.
In religious contexts, pretending you are less than you actually are is a highly practiced discipline. But that’s false humility. I was good at it. I always pretended to be less than I actually was because I felt it was inappropriate to be confident in myself, and also because this was deeply rooted in my insecurities about myself.
In other words, I hid. I hid myself.
So, of course I struggled with money being given to me for what I did. I felt like I didn’t deserve it, and as a result I felt like I was ripping people off. The less I got paid, the more humble I felt, and therefore the more spiritual I became.
This sick attitude I had while in ministry lingered for a while after I left. When I was trying to make a living through my art, cartoons, writing, coaching, and other efforts, deep down I struggled with insecurities, was committed to appearing humble, didn’t want to come across as needy, and was afraid to impose on people by asking for money in exchange for something I did or made.
The criticisms came.
I tell people that being criticized about money was my Achille’s heel. Just one comment from someone, like, “I can’t believe you’re charging people for your art. Jesus would never sell art!” Or, “You’re so greedy for charging people to be a part of a community.” Or, “You’re just in it for the money!”, would paralyze me for days.
Now, they’re just water off my back because I’ve built my self-awareness and self-confidence, and I’ve increased my own perception of the value of who I am and what I do.
If someone gives me $500 in exchange for one of my paintings or thousands of dollars in exchange for months of coaching, I say to myself, “Good trade!” Because that’s exactly what it is, a fair exchange of value. And the one giving me the money does too.
I finally came to believe, “I have skills. I’m even gifted. I’m good at what I do. And that’s worth something!”
I think you can say the same thing too.
Here’s your homework:
1. Honestly, what are you good at? Brag about yourself. Boast away!
2. Write it all down. Read it and respect yourself.
3. Tape it to your fridge or mirror. Remind yourself every day of your value.
4. Not necessarily monetarily, but what’s its value in the world?
5. Now, stop hiding and get out there and share it. We need you.
(Do you need help getting over your money hangups so you can get on with your life? 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 HERE.)