by Tim Howington
Managing our Emotions in Tough Financial Times
My Dad calls it a flesh break. I call it the tirades of a crazy man. The Lord calls it sin. I have to admit that I was a little surprised by the string of expletives coming out of my mouth. Even though I whispered my displeasure toward the Lord, I think my heart screamed inside. And to my chagrin there is no doubt that He heard me. It has been a long time since I had been that upset. Before I became a believer I had a pretty foul mouth but that was one of the things that I really hadn’t struggled with afterward. That is till I hit the wall: the financial stress wall.
The Scripture says that anxiety in the heart of man weighs it down. Said another way anxiety in the heart of man wears him out. Just like a marathoner hits the physical wall, a person who is dealing with ongoing financial struggles hits the emotional wall from time to time. Growing up in a chronically poor family, I saw it first hand with my Mom who must have had the patience of Job. But, ever so often she would lose it and have to work through her emotions. I would like to think of myself as strong, but the reality is that in challenging financial times my heart is full of anxiety and that little boy who was so self-conscious about being poor reappears with all his insecurities. I know that I am to focus on daily bread, but I am concerned that the bakery may break down in the future. Managing our emotions in the face of financial adversity is a key to managing yourself.
But how do you do that? Continue reading “Chapter Four- Managing our Emotions in Tough Financial Times”
by Tim Howington
Managing our Will in Tough Financial Times
You wouldn’t know it by looking at me now but when I was a kid I used to be pretty fast. I was not blazing by any stretch, but I ran a respectable quarter mile (54.5 was my best time, which by the way would be the record at my son’s middle school). The quarter mile is the race that separates the men from the boys. One time around the track as fast as your little legs will carry you. It tests a lot of things but especially your will power.
The first part of the race is navigating the opening curve. Your legs are fresh and your adrenaline is pumping so it’s pretty easy. The backstretch is pretty boring and even though you are not tired, you are tempted to step off the track and walk straight out to the bus. By the last curve, you are starting to feel it but there is something about being almost done and the curvature of the track that makes this part of the race kind of fun. Then you find yourself staring down the final straightaway. You can finally see the finish line and out of nowhere a 100 pound gorilla jumps on your back. Your legs are burning. Your lungs are exploding. And your mind screams at you to stop. By this phase of the race I used to look down occasionally at my legs to make sure they were still moving. The only thing that moves you forward is the will to finish what you started and the fear of your track coach who will help you learn to persevere to the end at the next track practice. The key to managing the will in the quarter mile is to not look at the track, the crowd, your coach or even your own physical capabilities, but you must look at the finish line. Continue reading “Chapter Three- Managing our Will in Tough Financial Times”
By Tim Howington
Managing our Minds in Tough Financial Times
I remember when my son studied about Johnny Appleseed in his first grade history class. Some think that Johnny was a fabled character who embodies the generous spirit of America. But, he was a real person. He was an entrepreneur type who loved his apple trees and made it his mission to plant nurseries of apple trees all over his part of the country. By the time he got through there were apple orchards all over the place. Johnny was a planter. And he spent his time and effort planting seeds that would blossom into trees that would provide sustenance to millions. Our topic in this chapter is not about agriculture, but is neurological in nature. The question today is what kinds of seeds are you planting in your mind? What kinds of thoughts are consuming your days? There is a battle going on for the mind and it is being lost at the seed level. We are planting the wrong kind of seeds and therefore we are growing the wrong kind of trees.
This is really true when it comes to managing our minds during tough financial times. The key to winning the battle for the mind has to do with what we allow our minds to focus on. If we focus on what we do not have, then we will plant seeds of anxiety that will grow into mind-trees of hopelessness. If we focus on what God is able to do, then our minds will grow beautiful orchards of contentment. Now I know that our thoughts may not pay the light bill. But thinking about the right things keeps our hearts with the right perspective, which affects our attitudes, which allows us to struggle well in times of adversity.
What should we be thinking about? Continue reading “Chapter Two- Managing our Minds in Tough Financial Times”
by Tim Howington
Managing Yourself When There is No Money to Manage
I attended a college meeting once where the speaker asked for a couple of volunteers from the audience to come and illustrate a point he was making. He chose a big burly football player and a petite cheerleader type gal. He had a large clear pitcher of water, filled to the rim. He handed this to the cheerleader and told her that her task was to keep the water from spilling out of the pitcher. He then told the football player that his task was to make her spill the water. Well, as you can guess the football player was successful. The speaker then turned to the audience and asked “why did water spill out of the pitcher?” The audience was split: some said it was her fault; some said it was his. Then the speaker made a profound statement that I have never forgotten. He said, “Water spilled out of the pitcher because water was in the pitcher.” He then went on to explain that life will bump us from time to time and whatever is in our hearts will spill out. Continue reading “Chapter One- Managing Yourself When There is No Money to Manage”
by Tim Howington
This book is the by-product of a painful process of financial anxiety over about a 12 month period where the Lord sustained my family by the hair of my chinny-chin-chin. We paid every bill, ate every meal, and never lost our housing, transportation or the clothes on our back. So, by those standards we were very blessed, and to some degree, we learned to be content.
But, every night I prayed diligently for the Lord to intervene in our lives. Every day I worked hard to secure the funds we needed to survive. And while I desperately wanted the “Lord’s will” to be financial stability in my family’s life, I knew that there was something else going on that was bigger than just me paying bills on time. The Lord was stripping me of my pride and my independence. The Lord was teaching me about how to manage my spirit when there was no money (little money) to manage. The Lord was connecting me to the needs of families all around me who are living paycheck to paycheck and asking themselves if God can be trusted. Continue reading “How to Manage Yourself When There is No Money to Manage – Intro”
Psalms 3–4 I look up at your macro-skies, dark and enormous,
your hand-made sky-jewelry,
Moon and stars mounted in their settings.
Then I look at my micro-self and wonder,
Why do you bother with us?
Why take a second look our way?
-The Message Version
One of the biggest transitions for a new married couple is moving from me to we. After a life of singleness the coming together can be a challenge for the twosome. This is true for several areas but particularly challenging in the area of finance. The number one cause of divorce is unresolved conflict and while couple fight over a lot of things conflict over finances is at the top of the list.
One of the more interesting analogies in the faith walk is the picture of Christ as husband and the Church as bride. While that picture is compelling, it can also be helpful in understanding how we can relate to the Lord. As we continue our study of Biblical principles about money, this study cover verses from Acts to Revelations. This section of Scripture is a look at the early church (Bride of Christ). From a great history lesson in Acts to instructional letters to the young church from the apostles this section is rich with things we need to know as believers including principles about money.
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