Understanding Our Relationship with Money
by Marcia Shetler
Have you ever thought about you and your money being in a relationship? It might seem like a bizarre idea, but it’s true. You might be the one in control of your relationship—or it might be your money. Most likely, it’s an ongoing tug-of-war between the two of you.
Followers of Jesus are not exempt from this relationship. In fact, in the Bible we find that Jesus speaks more about money than any other topic, save the kingdom of God. This emphasis indicates that a healthy understanding about our relationship to money is essential if we are to realize our full potential as children of God.
Our relationships—healthy or not—are formed over time. Your connection with your money has been shaped by many things, including your family and friends, your environment, your personality, and your faith. Taking some time to think about those influences can be very helpful in understanding your relationship with money, and putting you in charge of that relationship.
One way to begin that exploration is by developing a money autobiography. A money autobiography is a reflection process on the role and influence of money and material possessions in your life. It challenges you to explore the past to see how your attitudes, assumptions, and values concerning money and wealth were formed. The money autobiography provides a lens through which you examine how you manage money and how money manages you. It allows you the opportunity to wrestle with your needs, wants, and desires, and helps you understand the lifestyle choices you make. It can even help you set some priorities and goals for the future.
How do you begin writing a money autobiography? You’ll find many examples on the Internet. Choose a good, faith-based option. In a relationship? Take the next step and have your significant other write a money biography also. Then share the results and see how they inform—and perhaps transform—your joint relationship with your shared resources.
Jesus said, “You cannot serve both God and money” (Matthew 6:24, NIV). Your relationship with money influences your understanding of Christian stewardship as discipleship, your willingness to give generously and joyfully, and your responsiveness to use what you have been entrusted with as channels for generosity and love.
Bio: Marcia Shetler became the Executive Director/CEO of the Ecumenical Stewardship Center in March 2011. She holds an MA in philanthropy and development from St. Mary’s University of Minnesota, a BS in business administration from Indiana Wesleyan University, and a Bible Certificate from Eastern Mennonite University. She formerly served as administrative staff in two middle judicatories of the Church of the Brethren, and most recently was director of communications and public relations for Bethany Theological Seminary in Richmond, Indiana, an administrative faculty position. Shetler’s vocational, spiritual, and family experiences have shaped her vision and passion for faithful stewardship ministry that recognizes and celebrates the diversity of Christ’s church and the common call to all disciples to the sacred practice of stewardship. She is grateful for the blessing of connecting, inspiring, and equipping Christian steward leaders to transform church communities.