I ended last time by saying what an amazing difference you will experience in your reaction to economic downturns once you realize "I am a steward of God's property." Once you make this decision, you will be amazed at the pressure that is off your shoulders.
The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it (Psalm 24:1)
We are so concerned about our credit scores and such that we assume far too much ownership for things we are merely stewards over. We don't "own" anything when it comes right down to it. It is all God's, and we are to be caretakers of His stuff. If God wants to remove His stuff from my oversight that is His prerogative.
When I have counseled people this way, they have asked me about how I could possibly be willing to let my reputation be ruined that way with creditors. Very simple: it is really God's reputation that is at risk here. I am a follower of Jesus Christ and I proclaim myself to be one loudly and clearly.
My "job" is to keep my accounts current, not spend more than I earn in a month, share with those in need, not be given to excess or greed, to be honest in my dealings, and to do the best I can to pay every penny I owe to someone. If I am doing that to the best of my ability, and still my bills are more than my income due to some circumstance I was not able to prevent...why should I be concerned?
God is certainly able to provide over and above whatever amount I am short each month. If He chooses not to, is not that also His prerogative?
This is not where many people got into trouble though. Sadly many Christians got sucked right in along with the rest in the refinancing boom of the past few years, and the low adjustable rate mortgages. They wanted beyond their true means and perhaps were not as careful or wise as they ordinarily would have been. But I understand that 3 years ago, very few of us saw this coming. Unless you were on the inside somewhere the average person did not see this economic crash barreling toward us. Now it is here and many of our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ are hurting deeply.
So the question is, now what? How can we be good stewards of God's property in a diving economy with layoffs and plant closings?
I have read Burkett and Crown, and Ramsey. My favorite is Dave Ramsey. I like his debt reduction snowball principle- a lot! Pay off everything you can and create no new debt. Practice the principle of "without." Go without spending money as much as you can spending only on what is truly necessary. Utilize your church or public library for videos and movies and CD's or borrow and lend between friends. Consider a meal co-op with your neighbors. We did this one year and it was amazing! There were 4 families and we each cooked enough for all 4 families once per week. This meant that I made one meal per week! On fridays we had enough left overs and on the weekend we took care of ourselves. But this was a wonderful way to economize and eat a variety of foods.
Decide on one thing "extra" that you will keep if you are able. Some keep their internet, others their video store subscription or magazine delivery. We kept our cable tv. It was our only expense that was not needed, and it was something everyone enjoyed and was inexpensive (cost breakdown) when divided between our whole family (about 10.00 per person per month).
The point is to eliminate all the debt you can so you can be of help to others and to be free from the shackles of owing another. When we were unemployed we learned the weight of those chains grows very, very heavy after a while.
God's desire is that you owe no man, that you be free to help one another, and to be free to serve Him!