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Show me the money part 3: Debt

October 23, 2016

In part 2 of Show me the money series I spoke about radical giving and the effects it can have on ourselves and those around us. In part 3 I will be discussing debt and the impact it can have on college students’ futures.

Recently my family hosted Tracy Evans, a powerhouse woman of God who spent over 30 years as a missionary to Asia and Africa.

The next day, I interviewed her at our weekly service in order to inspire our students to give their summer to missions.

I ended our interview with this question: “If you could point to one thing a college student could do now in order to make an impact later in life, what would it be?”

Her answer surprised me, but it was concise and clear: “Get out of debt… now.”

I did not expected this response, so I asked her to elaborate:

“More and more, students are heading off to school with no plan of how to pay for it. When they complete school, they often have $35,000 worth of loans to pay back. That doesn’t even include those who are paying for a private school! [Some missions agencies] don’t allow people to join until they’ve paid off their school debt. It’s heartbreaking to watch their passion be put on pause because we know that some will never pick it up again. When I was in school…I didn’t want to graduate and delay my calling because I was enslaved financially. “

Leaders often ask me if they should address money more often in their teaching and every time I answer the same: you can’t talk about it enough!

Why do we need to address this issue?

  • Many students think after graduation they’ll be paid some massive salary and will eliminate school debt in a few months. Regardless of what they decide to do, they need to know that they’re rookies and will just be getting started. They’ll have to build up their salary over time.
  • If they don’t learn how to live simply now, they could develop spending habits later that could be problematic.
  • If we don’t get them thinking about their future, they could carry a ball and chain around for many years. This means they won’t be freed up to do what God calls them to do upon graduation.

Not long ago, I emailed Jerry Rankin, former president of the International Mission Board.

This issue of debt is massive and deters a lot of candidates from being able to fulfill their calling.

I asked him how much the issue of debt was a distraction (at best) and bondage (at worst) to college graduates interested in joining their organization:

“This issue is massive and deters a lot of candidates from being able to fulfill their calling. We appoint someone only when they’ve brought debt to a manageable level.  This is pretty low, due to low missionary support. We try to catch students interested in missions and just say, “Don’t do it! Work, intern, take longer to get your degree, but don’t go into debt.”

The message is clear: If we want our disciples to leave college ready to make an impact and not bring a burden into their pocketbook, marriage, and destiny, we need to do whatever it takes to help them get out of debt now…and pledge to never get in it ever again.

I’m sure you agree with Jerry and Tracy. But how do we bring this topic into discipleship?

Personally, for this next school year, money will be one of my top three priorities to teach about.

We’re going to challenge everyone to read “Don’t Get Suckered: Getting Out of College Debt Free…and With Your Shirt.”

I’m also going to bring in a couple speakers to our weekly service, host a three week class, and make finances a consistent topic in accountability times with disciples.

During these times we will cover things such as:

  • Were you wise with your money this week?
  • Are you in any debt, and if so, how can I help you get out of it?
  • Are you giving generously – to whatever level you can?
  • Do you need to take your Christmas break to apply for more scholarships?

I’ve often said that people welcome feedback as long as it has nothing to do with their parenting or finances. I believe we can break that cycle by making wise financial living something we model and disciple.

I want my college graduates to be able to fulfill the call of God on their life once they cross that stage—whether that be business, marriage, or missions.

So I have to start equipping them now to get rid of the slave master called Debt. As Romans 13:8 says, “Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another…”

Would you like to know how to do that?

Continue reading Show me the money part 4: Interview with author of Don’t Get Suckered for some practicals.