When I graduated from Anderson University School of Theology in 2003, we accepted the assignment to leave Indiana and come to Texas. We had been married four years and had a one-year-old little girl. It was my first (and so far, only) Senior Pastor role. It was an adventure and we had a lot to learn about life, marriage, parenting, ministry and stewardship of our finances.
Everything was new! My job was new. Our church family was new. Our friends would all be new. The city we lived in was all new. We were committed to Julia staying home with Abby (Katelyn came 2 years later), so, going from a two-income family to a one-income family was going to be new. That meant handling our finances was going to be new too.
There were many challenges to this new financial arrangement. We had two mortgages because we still owned a house in Indiana that we couldn’t sell for 12 years! That meant trying to be distant landlords, but it also meant always dealing with missing rent and frustrating repairs. We both had student loans to pay off and a car note to go with it. Then we had to take care of all the other basics and make sure to have room to give and share.
The church did their best to take care of us. In addition to my salary, they provided health insurance for our family and an additional 11% above my salary went to Servant Solutions every month. There were even times when they stepped in to help their young pastor out when unforeseen problems arose. That was their part and we are so thankful for them.
We had to do our part too. By intention, we made three decisions that have grounded us. First, we would always tithe and make room for extra giving as we were able. This wasn’t always easy when we didn’t get rent for several months and funds were draining fast, but we made a choice to live with integrity here and practice what we believed and taught. Second, when Julia did begin to work again once the kids got into school, we still lived like we only had one income. That made it possible for us to pay all of our debt off quickly and build up a savings. Third, we took budgeting seriously. We had to have a plan for where our money was coming from and where it was going.
Now, sixteen years later, we still have much to learn and, hopefully, many more adventures to take. However, we are so thankful for the blessings that have permeated our lives because of those three decisions we made long ago.