I love the story of Job. The book of Job in the Bible is considered by many to be the oldest book in the Bible. It is the story of a man who lost his family, his health, and his wealth, but not his faith. It is the story of man who had wealth, but managed to avoid the love of wealth. But it also is the story of a man who, though righteous in all his ways, did have one Achilles’ heal: fear. Perhaps the most significant passage in the book is found at Job 3:25:
For the thing I greatly feared has come upon me, and what I dreaded has happened to me.
What do you fear? Having grown up in a home that was in continual financial crisis, I have many fears about money and security. I even have fear about my fears! Here are some suggestions to help you deal with fear when it comes to personal finance:
- Identify your fear: Sometimes we are troubled by something, but we can’t put our finger on exactly what it is. I find it helpful to think about fear so that I can identify its source. Whether you fear bankruptcy, foreclosure, loss of a job, or something else, you can’t attack it until you identify it.
- Recognize that fear can attract trouble: I’m convinced that, like Job, our fears can actually attract the very thing we fear. I can’t prove this scientifically, of course, but our fears cause us to act and react in such a way that can bring about the trouble we hope to avoid.
- Understand that fear can be useful: Just like fear of real danger can help us avoid it, fear of financial ruin can be our best friend. If you are about to make a silly and dangerous financial move, you should be afraid. That’s your opportunity to reconsider the decision. The trick, of course, is knowing when your fear is warning you of real trouble and when it’s not, which comes from experience. If you lack experience, seek the advice of somebody you trust.
- Describe the worst-case situation: Whenever I have a fear, I imagine the worst-case. It goes like this–”I lose my job and can’t pay the mortgage. My savings will last x number of months, and then I’ll have to sell my home. My family and I will either rent or move in with family until we get back on our feet.” Now, that would not be a happy time. But let’s keep it in perspective; it would not be the end of the world, so I shouldn’t waste my energy fearing this possibility.
- Talk about your fears: Keeping your fears bottled-up can, over time, cause the fear to take control of your life. Discuss your money-fears with your spouse, parent, friend or somebody else that you trust. It can help keep your fears in perspective.
Not a sermon, just a blog.
Published or updated April 23, 2011.