Do not wear yourself out to get rich;
be wise enough to restrain yourself.
When you glance at wealth, it disappears,
for it makes wings for itself
and flies like an eagle to the sky.
— Proverbs 23:4–5
When I first decided to go into ministry full time, there was one thing that everyone told me in an attempt to talk me out of it: “I hope you like being poor, ‘cause you will never make any money.”
They were right. Being a pastor has never made me any money. I wish I could say I am super noble and humble and it has not been a struggle for me, but the truth is that this has always been a stumbling block.
At my first church, my anger grew and grew because I never had enough to do the things I wanted. I never felt like I could afford a family or a house, and had decided that these things were necessary for my happiness. I felt embarrassed when I had to tell friends and family no to outings, and felt worse if they offered to cover me. That anger and shame were damaging my ministry and my relationship with God. I quickly burned out and had to step away.
While away from church ministry, I began contemplating what was going on with me. Why was I so mad at the church for not giving me what I felt I deserved? One morning, the Lord spoke to me, and I finally understood what was wrong.
I was mad at the church (at my job), because I expected them to meet my needs. I was trusting in my work and my own ability to provide for me. But it was God who said he would be faithful to meet all my needs (Philippians 4:19). It was God who said that he cared for me and that I should not worry (Matthew 6:25-35).
I was angry and broken and anxious because I put my trust in something that was fleeting.
I’ve spent the last 15 years constantly repenting of that. Old habits die hard. While I can’t say that I have more money, I can definitely say I have more peace.
Is there something you are putting in God’s place, and experiencing anxiety because of it? I encourage you to go to God and confess that to him. Ask him to help you repent. He is faithful to forgive.