Ron Runyon writes the monthly Preacher's Progress column

Some  will say before they read these  paragraphs that I am discussing the im­possible. Sad, but true, there are those who by example support the idea that a minis­ter with a family cannot possibly live on one salary. Additional income derived from side lines or a wage-earning wife is a neces­sity, according to these budget busters.

I would like to make it clear at the out­set that it isn't easy to balance the budget and maintain the good standard of living that a hardworking, dedicated Adventist minister ought to have. It requires careful planning, plus consecrated will power.Of course, there are always some around who piously rise to their feet at the most critical moment as finances are being discussed, and exultingly declare that they see no reason in the world why any minister should be in a past, present, or future monetary muddle. They cite themselves as examples of those who sail through life free from any and all indebtedness.I have checked on a few of these finan­cial Pharisees, and have found a rather consistent pattern that usually includes one of the following reasons for their continual solvency on one salary:
  1. Like Abraham and Sarah as they ap­proached the century mark, they had no children to educate in Adventist schools.
  2. They had fallen heir to a father's fortune.
  3. Their wives were the beneficiaries of a relative's will.
  4. They were ministerial moonlighters (see Preacher's Progress, July, 1968).
  5. They were miserly.
A comment on point five is in order. I knew one penny-pinching preacher who kept his car in the garage and rode the bus. This plan kept his auto depreciation and travel allowance pretty well unimpaired. His district, in time, suffered, since bus transportation is no match for the automobile. Furthermore, this plan, in my opin­ion, was dishonest. The church paid for auto transportation, and if the bus was used, the balance should have been re­turned. I wouldn't want to stand where he stands on this point in the judgment.

Plans Before Birth

Is it really possible to balance the budget? I know of a number of ministers who are quietly going through life without fanfare or boasting, and are doing a re­markable job in balancing their budget. Of course, these individuals are extremely well organized and disciplined. They are neither prodigals nor misers. A budget to control their money—and this is impor­tant—was started early. If a preacher waits until his children are ready for boarding school, and then starts to include their school bills in the budget, he is in all probability too late with too little. This situation probably accounts for the major portion of money problems.The time to begin a budget for our chil­dren's Christian education is before they are born! What I write won't help the preacher who has an empty pocketbook and a desk on which school statements re­pose. But if you are planning a family, or your offspring are tiny tots, start immedi­ately to include their future education ex­penses in your budget!It is not an isolated instance where young couples in the ministry bring a baby into the world only to place it in a crib bought on credit! For one-salaried newlyweds to walk into a home filled with bank-owned brand-new furniture, ride in a bank-owned brand-new car, and hope for financial suc­cess is like a horse trying to win a race with two jockeys aboard. Our age of deficit spending and installment buying is soul devouring. So much so that the Lord's mes­senger declares, "Abstracting and usingmoney for any purpose, before it is earned, is a snare."—The Adventist Home,  p. 392.

My personal opinion is that this advice covers about everything with the excep­tion of a home and perhaps a car for a young minister starting out. Even then a good used car, at least to start with, usually is far cheaper than a new one. Satan delights to get us in debt. The deeper, the better. Debt depresses. Debt "tends to dis­courage you; and even the thought of it makes you nearly wild" (ibid., p. 393).

Suggestions for Building Financial Muscles

The following recommendations may help some of our interns or ministerial as­pirants to get along on "his" income. There is a possibility of these suggestions helping those who have been in the ministry for some time and are facing financial difficul­ties.

  1. Set up a budget. Plan your financial program. No budget—no balance! Insur­ance, taxes, et cetera which are paid on a quarterly or yearly basis must be included in your monthly budget. Set up a monthly personal withholding tax plan for these types of bills. In modem society, a sound budget must be on a yearly income-outgo basis divided into twelve parts.
  2. Be sure to include in your budget an amount for savings. The man who spends all will never grow tall financially. If you are living it all up, you've got problems. The wise worker builds financial muscles by putting something aside monthly.

Listen to the repeated counsel to those in money trouble. "Every week a portion of your wages should be reserved and in no case touched unless suffering actual want. . . . Every week you should lay by in some secure place five or ten dollars not to be used up unless in case of sickness. With economy you may place something at interest. With wise management you can save something after paying your debts. I have known a family receiving twenty dol­lars a week to spend every penny of this amount, while another family of the same size, receiving but twelve dollars a week, laid aside one or two dollars a week, manag­ing to do this by refraining from purchas­ing things which seemed to be necessary but which could be dispensed with."­Ibid., p. 396.

       3. Stay away from sales unless you know they are selling at a reduced price some­thing that you absolutely need! Many a person has gone broke saving money at sales. These dear wives of ours, and some­times husbands, dash home and display some unneeded article only to justify its purchase with the exclamation, "I got this at half price!" How many shelves sag un­der the weight of needless items bought at a sale.

       4. Train and educate your children in such a way that they will command re­sponsible jobs when at boarding school. See that they earn money in the summer for their school expenses. As I write this, one of my own children has a goal of saving $500 from earnings this summer for acad­emy expenses next year. There is a double blessing in this. My child will not only help us lift the dollar load, but will ap­preciate Christian education to the tune of at least $500 next year. When papa and mamma pay everything, it destroys a child's appreciation for the most worth-while thinas in life.

       5. Desire-control is a positive essential. During our experience in the mission field some of us jokingly gauged a person's abil­ity to balance the budget by observing the number of empty American food tin cans thrown into the garbage pail. Surprisingly enough, a consistent pattern was seen. Those usually in the red never learned to live mainly on national products. The words, "It is so easy in preparing your table to throw out of your pocket twenty-five cents for extras" (ibid., p. 393), are true both at home and abroad.

The majority of us could cut our food bills if we took the time and trouble to study ways and means to plan simple but nourishing meals. For sure, we would be better off from a health standpoint if we did effect such a change. I refer not only to the unnecessary foods, such as pastries, ice cream, et cetera, but to the amount eaten.

By the looks of some of my ministerial friends and their wives, a cut in food spend­ing would pad the budget and unpad the physique! Those making such a cut just couldn't help gaining dollars and losing weight. An unbeatable combination.

Desire-control enters areas other than food. One young minister whose frequent visits to the treasurer's office indicated a need for financial resuscitation rushed out one Sunday and made a down payment on a boat and motor. Now, I like boats, but I 

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Ron Runyon writes the monthly Preacher's Progress column

August 1968

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