Breaking the Poverty Paradigm
Poverty takes on many forms. Have you looked at your beliefs and connected them to your current and desired reality as it relates to money. You might be doing ok financially yourself, and I congratulate anyone who feels that way – but I will further challenge you with this: ‘compared to whom are you doing ok?’ and ‘could you be doing more to contribute to assisting others in your community and around the world to overcome the poverty they face?’
If the answer to this second question is no, then the face in the mirror needs to recognize that the subjective ‘doing ok’ has become complacent and self-focused because poverty everywhere still exists. Jesus did say ‘the poor we will always have’ (Matthew 26:11) until He returns, but that should reinforce the necessity of rethinking financial beliefs to expand your mind to increase financial resources to further increase the number of people who will receive the gospel before He returns – not lull us into a place of personal comfort.
Finance is an area reflecting every other area of our life, but behind every area of life is a spiritual influence of life and abundance, or death and poverty. As I have experienced myself, and through the people I’ve worked with in finance for over 30 years, it’s interesting how easy it is to recognize when there’s a need for change, yet how challenging it is to make the necessary changes. The pain of the unfamiliar, or the pain in facing the reality of today, or the regret and disappointment from the past, is often too hard to face because our real enemy is out to ‘steal, kill and destroy’ (John 10:0) the abundance of good God has planned for His people.
All this confirms that knowledge alone won’t change results, despite the benefits it provides. Obviously, wisdom is a key factor in knowing how and when to apply knowledge, but to access and apply wisdom you also have to understand the underlying issues based on all the various scenarios and situations, because in finance as in most other life areas, there is always a personal ‘it depends’.
A great example, exists with credit, specifically with a strategy called, ‘line of credit banking’. The summary of the strategy is to use daily interest loans, credit cards and lines of credit as a primary bank account to flow money in and out of. Under the right circumstances the strategy will reduce debt faster than any other strategy I know, but even if all the natural and financial circumstances make sense for someone to implement this strategy, there will still be the issue of the person’s ability to implement, manage and control their cash flow or the strategy can backfire and cause more stress and a worse situation that not doing anything.
This is critical because knowing what to do is not the same as doing it. And if all the details mean that doing something will provide beneficial results, yet someone struggles with taking the necessary actions, the real issue isn’t knowledge or emotions, it’s what is the spiritual force that is blocking the flow of abundance in someone’s life.
I realize I went from an example of banking to overall abundance, but the phrase, ‘how you do anything is how you do everything’ is relevant in finances. If you believe you’re doing all the right things and you’re doing ok, then you don’t have an incentive to change. If you believe you could be doing more, you’re tempted to do just that, ‘more of whatever you think you can do’. If you believe you’re doing everything you can and there is nothing else you or anyone else can do, then you’re resigning yourself to whatever circumstances you find yourself in as a matter of ‘chance’ or perhaps even ‘God’s will for your life’.
God’s will for all of our lives is to receive His blessings and to be fruitful and multiply. If we are comfortable in our self-sufficiency we’re coming under the poverty paradigm of ‘self first’. If we believe we have to ‘make something happen’ we are under the poverty paradigm of ‘self god’. If we believe that what we can see is all there is, we are living with a poverty paradigm of ‘little faith’.
If you’re not sure what God’s good plans and purposes might be for your life that’s a great place to start: by identifying the desires He has given you deep within your heart. These will align with His word so as you consider desires, you also have to recognize that they can be hidden behind masks of survival tactics rooted in fear, or boastfulness that’s also rooted in fear, pride, rejection, bitterness, forgiveness, guilt, etc. You need to ask Him to reveal to you the “treasures of darkness and hidden riches of secret places, so you may know that I, the Lord, who call you by your name, am the God of Israel” (Isaiah 45:3).
The spiritual forces of darkness affecting finances affect a lot more than our individual circumstances. The cultural paradigm for personal finances is based on a lot of half-truths that revolve around money being a scarce resource. This underlying belief system has created a poverty mindset that has become the accepted paradigm for our society. If you’re going to experience a financial transformation in your own life and we’re going to experience one within the Body of Christ and in our communities, we have to recognize that knowledge is critical, recognizing and managing emotional decisions is also critical, but the real enemy is invisible, yet wants us to believe he’s fictional so we focus on the numbers and circumstances we can see, not on God’s promises!
Jesus said we can’t serve both God and mammon (the spiritual force attached to money), yet He is all-knowing and all-powerful so He knows the importance of money in our society. Learning how to acquire, manage, and maintain money is obviously important so we can live abundantly, not in constant lack or survival mode (under the influence of poverty), but where’s Jesus in that process? He wants more than service to His people, He wants our heart – and this is a paradigm shift for finances that to be honest, the personal revelation of what that really means is quite humbling and terrifying at the same time. Why? Because our ability to give Jesus our hearts requires breaking through the strongholds of beliefs that force us to face our fears, regrets and egos.