(No more guilt trips!)
My parents left their six-figure jobs to enter the ministry when I was in high school. That was 10 years ago, and my mom still regularly asks me to share my money with them. I don’t mind helping out once in a while, but this has been going on for a long time and I’ve started feeling bitterness about the requests and their bad financial decisions. My mom also tries to make me feel bad sometimes if I can’t afford to give them as much as they want. She constantly references their calling, and that I should want to help with that. How can I stop this pattern?
This is not a healthy situation for anyone involved. By consistently giving or loaning your parents money, you’ve lost respect for them in the process. The relationship has become strained, and that’s a tough thing for anyone to deal with – especially in a parent-child situation. On top of all that, your mom sounds like a travel agent for guilt trips. It seems like she’s working you over while implying it’s all really for God. That’s toxic.
Going into the ministry is an admirable thing. However, I remember a guy in the Bible named Paul who made tents while he conducted his ministry. I’m paraphrasing, of course, but his line was something like, “If you don’t work, you don’t eat.” He had a job, remember? So, suggesting that someone work outside the ministry while trying to do God’s work isn’t mean or unfair.
No one should do this to their child, and it’s going to be hard to unravel it all and turn it into a respectable situation. I hope everyone will consider sitting down with a mature third party, and developing a situation where you’re no longer giving or lending them money.
In the meantime, read a book called Boundaries by Dr. Henry Cloud. After that and some objective intervention, I think this situation will become a lot healthier for everyone.
(Finding the right motivation)
My husband and I make $180,000 a year combined, and we have a net worth of about $1.6 million. We’ve been blessed financially, and lots of times motivated by a survival point of view, but what do you do when you’re not motivated by that kind of thing anymore? How do you find and live out God’s purpose for your life?
Congratulations on your success! You guys really have been blessed, and it sounds like you’ve worked hard for your wealth. If you’ve ever studied psychology a little bit, you may remember Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. Basically, once you get physiological and safety needs met, you feel a need to find other things to motivate you. It sounds like you’re a performance-oriented person. So am I. People like us get our relaxation and even fulfillment away from work in different ways than most people.
My suggestion would be to start thinking about ways you can serve and help other people or causes you care about. This could even mean becoming a stay-at-home mom for a while and really pouring into your kids, if you have them. If it’s something else, that’s okay too. How about this? You’ve obviously been thinking about this stuff for a while. Take a day all to yourself, away from everything and everybody, and bring along nothing but some food and drink, a bunch of notepads and pencils, and a Bible. Open up your mind and your heart to the things you care about and all the possibilities. You have to have a goal that is worthy in your mind, and you don’t have that right now.
I can’t tell you what your calling is, Lisa, but I can say this. There’s tons of joy and fulfillment to be found when you’re working in a way to serve the people and things that matter most in your life!
* Dave Ramsey is America’s trusted voice on money and business, and CEO of Ramsey Solutions. He has authored seven best-selling books. The Dave Ramsey Show is heard by more than 11 million listeners each week on more than 550 radio stations and digital outlets. Follow Dave on Twitter at @DaveRamsey and on the web at daveramsey.com.