Are you in debt so as to embarrass you in you work?
Every time I hear this question, I chuckle a little bit. It seems like a strange question to ask candidates for ordination. Most wish to keep their finances private. But then I start reading Scripture. There are many verses devoted to money and it’s place in our lives. The way one handles their financial house shows where their heart is oriented as a steward of what God has given them.
So am I in debt so as to embarrass me in my work? I used to be. Between the two of us, my wife and I have two bachelor’s degrees and one master’s. We’re all very aware of the cost of education in this country, and I’m certainly aware of the cost of a theological higher education. It’s part of the package deal when one enters the ordination process. For an elder, the Master of Divinity degree is required. I found places out there that would have saved me some money when it came to seminary, but Asbury Theological Seminary was my choice. ATS is certainly not cheap, but the quality of the theological education is second to none (in my humble opinion).
While we were in school, we knew that we were piling on the debt. When we completed our degrees it was scary to see how much debt there really was. We felt like we were drowning. We weren’t sure what to do and, frankly, it was embarrassing.
Then we took Financial Peace University. I don’t agree with Dave Ramsey theologically on a few things, and there are a couple of things in his process that I don’t fully embrace. However, on the whole, his plan works. You can check it out for yourself here. Through working the process, we haven’t paid off our student loan debt, but we are paying it down faster than we ever could have imagined. We are in a much healthier financial spot than we’ve ever been in our married life. Thanks be to God.
As a Church, we need to be on the leading edge of helping our local church members get to a place of financial freedom. As far as ministerial educational costs, I’m glad to see that many conference Boards of Ordained Ministry are working to address the rising educational debt carried by those entering ordained ministry. We have to do a better job of supporting those who are committing themselves to lifelong service in the Church….they will have typical graduate level debt and enter the ministry at minimum salary. We must do better.
I’ll get off my soapbox now. Ordination is tomorrow!!!! AHHH!!
Are you in debt so as to embarrass you in your work? I am not.