I once heard a sermon in which the pastor read a poem called "The Land of Beginning Again." The pastor then presented the claims of Christ, explaining that He is King in "The Land of Beginning Again."
Each of us has experienced His share of errors, failures and missed opportunities. We all have things that we would do differently if given a second chance. What wonderful news to know that, in Christ, the slate is wiped clean and we do have the opportunity of beginning again.
In a similar fashion, many who have become weighed down by debt wish they could get free. They have learned (the hard way) that the satisfaction that comes with spending is brief indeed compared to the pressure of making monthly payments which often go on for years. For some, it seems hopeless. You may sometimes feel this way yourself.
If so, take heart! You can make great strides in less time than you might think. It will require planning, discipline, sacrifice and singleness of purpose, but it can be done!
A friend of mine likes to say that the most powerful force in the universe (humanly speaking, of course) is singleness of purpose. Individuals or groups, no matter how determined, disciplined, or talented, will never realize their potential for growth and accomplishment without singleness of purpose. Their time, money and energies must be focused on common goals.
One thing that successful people seem to have in common is an emphasis — perhaps thats putting it too lightly, make that an obsession — concerning setting goals. Without singleness of purpose and specific goals, we can become like the person described in James 1 as double-minded: "That man should not think he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all he does."
So let me encourage you to engage in a meaningful goal-setting exercise as you work to get debt-free. Here are some suggestions for effective goal-setting in any area of life; adapt them to your financial situation.
• Set goals that are consistent with God's Word. Many successful people have accomplished much, yet remain unhappy. Having singleness of purpose toward the wrong goals only leads to wrong results. Examine your motivations, as well as your actions, in the light of God's wisdom.
• Ask God for His guidance. This is not the same as having scripturally sound goals. This has more to do with having the wisdom needed to set the right personal priorities. God promises to guide us if we're willing to submit to Him. It's not: "Show me Your will, Lord, so I can decide if I'm willing." Rather, it's: "Before You even reveal Your will to me, Lord, the answer is yes."
• If you're married, set goals together. It's critical that a husband and wife have a singleness of purpose in their commitment toward common goals. Few things will so quickly affect a couple's relationship as a plan that sets spending boundaries. It will bring conflicting goals into the open. If you can't reach a meeting of the minds on what your financial priorities should be, perhaps the marriage relationship itself needs some work.
• Put your goals in writing, date them and sign your name. This act helps cement in your thinking that you really have made a firm commitment of your will to achieving your goals. It is also helpful to have your goals posted where you will see them daily as additional motivation to stay the course when the inevitable temptations to compromise arise.
Through it all, keep in mind that Jesus Christ is the King of the "land of beginning again." And He will never leave you or forsake you.
Austin Pryor is the founder of Sound Mind Investing, America's best-selling investment newsletter written from a biblical perspective. SMI helps people manage money well so they can truly live well and give generously.
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