by Bill Blair on 14/01/09 at 5:36 am
Below begins a brief series where I will share the case study I developed for helping a “foolish spender” repent of their carelessness with money. I have broken down the case study into 10 elements that are typically present in any effective biblical counseling or discipleship process. I will release segment two tomorrow and the final segment on Friday. I hope it you find this helpful.
Financial stewardship is an area that many people struggle with both inside and outside the church. Anyone who has incurred debts of any significance understands what the Bible means when it says the “borrower is the slave of the lender” (Prov 22:7). Although many struggle, all can overcome their difficulties with some planning and patience. This case study will detail the key elements of discipleship for helping others with poor financial stewardship.
Many will find it unsettling to approach the church for help with finances; therefore, it is important to create a culture of grace so the counselee will feel at ease during the process. The first step in providing loving care is to find out what prompted the counselee to seek help. In the first meeting, the counselor should determine if there are immediate needs that must be dealt with before moving forward. If the counselee is facing something like foreclosure or eviction, then the counselor should help them alleviate these pressing issues so the root problems can be worked on later. It would be unloving to dig into heart issues without making sure the counselee’s immediate needs are met. The counselor should encourage and build-up the counselee by pointing out that many struggle, but few overcome their problems because they never get help as the counselee has. It may help for the counselor to share some of his struggles so the counselee does not feel like he is a unique case. The goal should be to take away any stigma the counselee may feel and make sure they know that the counselor is there to help.
For Christians, hope is found in the gospel. In the area of financial stewardship, however, it may not be clear how the gospel applies. First, the gospel offers forgiveness of sin. The counselee should be reminded that God is faithful to forgive when we confess our sins (1 John 1:9); therefore, the counselee can be sure that he will be forgiven of his financial sins. Next, the gospel offers a hope of things to come. Without minimizing the problem, the counselee should be helped to see the problem in light of the future hope for the believer which is Heaven. The point is that although today seems rough, there is something greater to come.
Hope is also found in God’s promises. The counselee should know that difficulties can help people grow (Jas 1:3). Next, the counselee should be reminded that no matter how difficult the situation may seem, God has promised that he works all things out for good (Rom 8:28-29). The key point is to take the counselee’s problem and bring God into the equation to show it is an opportunity for growth, and how it can be overcome with God’s help. Although, hope is primarily about bringing God into the situation, it will help to share stories of success so the counselee will know that such victories are achieved by real people in real life.
Gathering data is an important, but often overlooked aspect of dealing with financial stewardship. Most resources focus on gathering financial data, but will neglect information that will uncover heart issues that are driving the problem. Probing questions should be asked that delve into the counselee’s whole life. Are they impulse spenders? Do they manage time well? Is there a pattern to their financial problems that show up in other areas of their life? Finding patterns in other areas of life will help uncover root issues that would be missed if only the financial data is looked at. The key aspect of data gathering is to get a picture of the counselee’s life moving beyond the financial data to find out who the counselee is. While gathering this information, one must seek to determine if the person is a true believer. If the person is a non-believer, the counselor may be able to help in the area of finances, but will not be able to help the counselee repent of the heart issues until the counselee comes to a saving faith in Christ.