Few people were expecting a financial crisis to hit in 2008, but it did. The housing market collapsed and the stock market crashed, leaving many people jobless and financially stressed. My family had been in our new home for only a few months when it happened. Work slowed to a crawl. We had more money going out than we did coming in, and I made several hard choices as a result. We stopped tithing and making house payments. And we carried with us this feeling that we simply did not have enough. An abundance mindset was the furthest thing from our minds.
This is a feeling many of us are facing right now, as we grapple with the effects of the coronavirus. How will we pay the bills? How will we pay for food? How will we keep the lights on? Will I need to find a new job? What will other people think about me? These questions were swirling in our heads in 2008. We simply were not prepared.
At that time, we had spent several years focused on making more money. We wanted a bigger house, newer cars, nicer clothes. Making money was such a focus, I got pretty good at it. I even read half a Dave Ramsey’s book.
Notice I said “half.” I read just enough to get what I wanted, to make more money. When it came to tithing, I only did it to check it off the list of things I was supposed to do. Instead of cheerfully giving to God (2 Corinthians 9:7), I was only tithing so could tell others I had done it. The issue was my heart. In the movie Talladega Nights, race car driver Ricky Bobby says, “If you ain’t first, you’re last.” I’d like to take that statement and change it slightly. If God ain’t first in your life, He’s last.
We lost everything as a result of the 2008 financial crisis. We burned through all the cash we had left. We charged up every credit card. We sold anything not absolutely necessary for basic living. Our new house was sold on a short sale, and we ended up moving in with my parents. But as a result of this troubled time, we learned a lot of life lessons. We learned how to live on less money, with less stuff, and still be happy. And most importantly, we learned to put God first. In spite of losing everything, we found ourselves unexpectedly and remarkably happy.
In the past, Pastor Craig has talked about how “less is more.” And those words are true. Less stuff equals less stress and fewer distractions. I was able to get really involved with my church. I went to all the men’s events, joined the choir, attended a Bible study, and even started leading worship for the youth ministry. Though we still struggled in many areas, my family finally had our priorities in the right order.
Jim Rohn once said, “We can’t change our destination overnight, but we can change our direction overnight.” My family had changed our direction and set a new course. Over the next few years, our financial situation improved. But this time around, one thing was different. We had a new perspective. God was our first priority. We started tithing again, not because we were supposed to, but because we wanted to. And we started giving to others, too. We had that freedom because we trusted that God, in His abundance, would give us everything we needed. That’s what having an abundance mindset is all about.
None of us knows how our financial future will be affected by the coronavirus pandemic or any crisis that comes after. But God doesn’t want us to live burdened by stress over money. He calls each of us to tithe and give to those in need, trusting that He’s capable of providing for us in every situation we face. No matter the struggle, He will abundantly give us all we need.