How I Learned to Love Dealing with Money in Ministry, and How You Can Too

Shift your mindset about money and leadership
smiling work

By Rev. Margaret Marcuson

I learned to love dealing with money. It took me over 25 years, but even my first efforts helped make my life easier. Early in my ministry, I knew I needed to learn more about stewardship and finance. At first, I would have been happy to ignore it. However, I did learn, little by little, to feel competent and even to love dealing with money. 

This is how I learned to love it. 

I decided I wanted to. 

I didn’t want to love it, not at first. However, I knew I wanted to understand money better. I knew that was part of my job as a pastor. Eventually, I did want to love dealing with it. 

Try this, if you aren’t quite ready to want to love money:

  • Could you lower your aversion to it by 10%? 
  • Could you be curious about your own responses?

I spent time with people who understood it better than I did.

When I saw an opportunity to learn about church finances, I signed up. I remember one session with a teacher who knew money and church. For the first time, I understood what a balance sheet was! It hasn’t been a straight trajectory. I’m still learning. I’m far from an expert on financial statements, but I understand them better.

Try this: Connect with people in your church or judicatory who know more than you do. Consider finding a money mentor—someone for whom no question is too much. 

I learned to think about money as part of the spiritual life. 

Early on, I didn’t think money was spiritually important in ministry. I wanted to get finances and stewardship over with so I could get back to “real ministry.” However, I came to see dealing with money as real ministry.

Many Christians still have a dualistic view of money: it seems a little dirty. However, the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil (I Timothy 6:10), not money itself. Loving this area of ministry is not the same as loving money itself!

Now I’m committed to helping Christians bring their faith into their money life. We handle money every single day. How could our faith not be a crucial part of how we relate to it? 

Try this: Start bringing your money life into your prayer life, little by little.

I learned more about my family story. 

I knew my family history contributed to my resistance to dealing with money. My father grew up poor during the Depression. His grandparents died tragically in circumstances involving money. His parents fought constantly about money.

In my family, money seemed dangerous, and there was a deep fear we might not have enough. No wonder I didn’t want to pay attention to it. However, the more I explored that history, the more comfortable I felt with money. I learned about the strength and generosity in my family, not just the hard times. I found I could calm down and confidently ask people to give generously. 

Try this: Explore your own family story in relation to money. What do you know about the family patterns of giving, discussing money, saving, and spending?

I kept at it

I kept going over time. I’m still at it. I’ve had to be patient with myself over these 25 years. I’m still working on these “try this” recommendations. There is no quick fix, especially if you have a complicated family relationship with money. I encourage you to be patient, too. 

Try this: Look back and see how you have grown already in your relationship with money. 

As you lean in and pay more attention to money at church, show grace towards yourself. If you are anxious about leadership around money, remember that it took you years to get to this point, and it may take years to make a shift. That’s all right. Most things of value take years to accomplish.

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About the Author
Rev. Margaret Marcuson offers a way church leaders can bring their best to their ministry without giving it all away, so they can have a greater impact and find more satisfaction. Get six ways to last in ministry here.

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