In just a few short weeks I will be graduating from university with a bachelor’s degree in Family Life Studies. As I pursued my degree, I focused as much of my education as possible on the intersection of money and marriage. I began with the hypothesis that if a person could manage their resources, they would be more likely to have a happy and successful marriage and family experience. My studies confirmed this, although it was often with negative statistics such as the one oft repeated that a major cause of divorce is money fights and money problems.* Or that couples from lower socioeconomic status would be more likely to divorce. **
This kind of information is heartbreaking. After all, here at Big Ocean we know that the stability of the family is critical to the stability of the world. As I am completing my education and looking toward future employment I have been asking the question, “What can I do about this problem?” There are many factors that play into the instability of families and there are many solutions, but I want to talk about just one piece of the puzzle. I have come to understand that if we are wise stewards over the resources we are given, we will be blessed with opportunities to have more, do more, and be more.
Over the last several years, my husband and I have learned that all that we have has come from God. Our good ideas. Our work ethic. Our drive. Our determination. The job that provides for our family. All of it has come as the result of God’s divine direction in our lives. Knowing that what we have comes from Him and that we have a responsibility to manage it for His glory has changed the way that we manage our finances.
Now, I don’t want anyone to think that we’re always perfect stewards over our resources or that since deciding to be good stewards that we’re abounding in wealth. We’re not. Sometimes we’re slothful servants in need of correction and we’re still learning how to carefully manage our finances. But we’re consistently trying to remember whose resources we are managing. In the process of this gradual enlightening, our relationship has changed. It is no longer me complaining and him being frustrated. Instead we’re working together to be more diligent, worthy and able to have and manage more. We have become a team instead of single players. This unity has helped to insulate our marriage against the shocks of life.
What does it mean to be a wise steward? Is it only about money? Well, no. We commonly think of a steward as someone who is given responsibility over large amounts of money or land, but at its most basic level, we understand that a steward is a person who watches over a (or his or her—it needs to be singular) master’s valuables. Knowing that we believe our lives are gifts from God, and that everything that we have comes from Him, we can begin to understand that our time, our talents, our money, our marriages, our knowledge, our skills, and so much more are all things over which we have been given stewardship.
Being a good steward requires first recognizing that we’re managing all that we have for the benefit of the owner. Would that understanding change how you decide to use your leisure time? Or what about the way that you budget your money? Would your life look different if you changed your perspective from owner to steward? What if you became the steward over your marriage and your goal was to do all that you could to make it thrive?
Now please rest assured that I’m not here to criticize or make anyone feel bad about their relationships or their state of management. We’re all on different paths, roads and adventures. My experience won’t look like my sister’s and hers won’t look like her neighbor’s. We were each put here on this beautiful earth to do different things and to have different experiences. Part of our process of learning and growing is discovering how we can improve and become the best version of ourselves.
I have learned that the connection between a happy marriage and a well-managed financial life is strong and real. I don’t want you to think that the only way to be happy is to be wealthy. I don’t believe that at all and I don’t believe that money will insulate you from the heartaches of life. However, I do believe that when we learn that our lives and the blessings we’ve been given are meant to serve a purpose greater than our own, then as wise stewards we can truly find joy.
Written by Kristen Miles