At my request—as part of our Dads Are Disciplers strategy (DADs)—the following testimony was submitted by Daniel Schilling, a young husband and father who is thankful for the example and training he received from his father concerning money management. At the end of the post, you will find the link to a series of articles providing sound counsel to young people, which Daniel recently posted on his blog.
As far back as I can remember my father always encouraged me to be careful with my money, constantly warning me of the consequences of spending beyond my means. Throughout my childhood years until I finally left home he kept stressing to me the importance of staying debt-free as much of my life as was realistic. He taught me that by keeping out of financial bondage (Proverbs 22:7) I would be able to give more of my time and money to the Lord and to my family. My father himself did go into debt to buy a house, but I can still remember how happy he was when he paid it off and was debt-free again. He taught me to be fearful of debt and to relish the experience of being debt-free.
My father’s vision for his children regarding finances was that we would bring honor to him and my mother as well as to the Lord by being very prudent with how we spent the money that God gave to us. I can remember him referencing Proverbs 10:1 when he was trying to teach us important life lessons: “a wise son makes a glad father, but a foolish son is the grief of his mother.” I knew that I would make him sad if I wasted my life chasing after things of no eternal value. Dad would often remind us of the story of Jacob and Esau, when Esau showed how short-sighted he was by selling his birthright to Jacob in exchange for one single meal. Dad did not want us to waste our God-given resources in the way that Esau “despised his birthright” (Genesis 25:34).
One of the ways that my father discipled me in the area of finances was by giving me a small allowance. When I was really young I was not allowed to use my money to buy anything without my parents’ permission. As I grew older I was given more freedom to buy what I wanted. Dad knew that if he gave me too much control over my own finances too quickly that I would learn to be wasteful and careless with my money. Doubtlessly I would have spent it all on candy. Dad would rarely give me any extra money besides my allowance. If I wanted to buy something it was useless to try to plead with him for a handout. He usually expected me to wait until I had saved up enough to afford it.
I remember one time when I was about nine years old I decided that I wanted to buy a big-kid bicycle. I was tired of the small hand-me-down bike that I shared with my other siblings. I carefully saved each penny of my meager allowance for a year and a half until I had enough to buy the bike. The whole time my parents stood by and never once offered to buy the bike for me. However, after I had all the money saved up, they rewarded my frugality by paying half of the cost for me. So I still had a lot of money left over. The experience taught me that it is possible for someone with a miniscule income to buy a big-ticket item if they save up for it patiently.
There were many other lessons that my father taught me about money. He was very direct with us because he believed that handling money is a moral issue. A lot of what he told me is based on passages from the Bible. Most of it I learned during family devotions. My father always told us children that it is better to learn by listening to our elders than through personal experience. Personal experience is almost always much more painful. This principle is especially true in the area of finances.
I am very grateful for the time and energy that my father put into teaching me about money. I appreciate not only the things he taught verbally, but the example that he gave me by living his life according to the principles that he talked about. I’ve found that it’s easier to apply these principles in my own life because I have seen a working example of what good money-management looks like. He not only told me how to do it, but he showed me the way. Now the rest of it is up to me. It is my responsibility not to waste the good teaching that he gave me.
Check out Daniel’s other articles about applying biblical principles of money management here.