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Shift Ministry Models

Foundations of a Resilient Faith

The Role of Financial Wellness in Vocational Flourishing
by Rayce J Lamb | February 7, 2022

My great granddad was a preacher. His congregation was a small independent Baptist church tucked away in an actual ‘hollar’ of Appalachia. He was a farmer, a husband, and a dad to nine children. His formal education stopped at fifth grade but that didn’t stop God from calling him into ministry. He was unpaid, which wasn’t unusual in his context, and doing ministry in a place that very much still had a frontier vibe. And he followed that call for a lifetime.

Even though I never knew him, I think about him often. I mean, what a resilient faith he must have had! This idea of resilient faith fascinates me and has become a central theme in my own exploration of vocational and financial wellness over the years. My bet is that many of you are familiar with “The Wholeness Wheel,” a tool used by the ELCA to illustrate how wellbeing is multidimensional, yet intertwined. Of this wheel, my work often has me focusing on the single dimension of financial wellbeing. 

For many faith leaders, it is a dimension that we struggle with. Whether we carry shame around money, have associated traumas around money, or simply grew up in a culture where not speaking about money was the proper thing to do, many of us have pushed our financial wellbeing to the back burner to be dealt with another day at another time. However, in doing this, we have also unconsciously eroded our ability to be resilient.

We recognize there are larger systemic issues of economic injustice and inequity that factor into any one person’s ability to thrive financially, but we also know that there are foundational elements of personal finance that financial advisors, counselors, and coaches advocate for regardless of who one is. Some of these elements include:

  • Creating a budget.
  • Establishing an emergency fund.
  • Investing for Retirement.
  • Having a debt repayment plan.

These may seem basic, but consider these statistics:

  • 65% of Americans don’t know how much they spent last month (Mint.com).
  • Just 35% of Americans could pay for a $1000 emergency expense (CNBC).
  • More than half of older Americans have less than $50,000 for retirement (CNBC).
  • The average American has over $90,000 in debt (Debt.org).

Chances are you or someone you know are represented in these statistics. Establishing personal finance habits that aid in one’s ability to flourish long-term isn’t always easy. But the first step is recognizing where one is, where one needs to be, and to begin to lay a foundation to get there. 

In this 2019 presentation Dr. Matt Bloom of the University of Notre Dame showcased how financial wellbeing plays an essential role in a faith leader’s ability to be resilient in their vocational call. From the ability of a pastor to walk away from an abusive vocational setting knowing they have an emergency fund to fall back on, to a faith leader’s ability to seek counseling, join a gym, and/or buy healthier food because of increased cash flow after paying off debt—our financial habits help us set up a foundation of resiliency which aids us in our ability to flourish personally and vocationally. Equally as important, establishing good financial habits allows us to demonstrate and model resiliency to our communities. A resilient faith is a faith worthy of proclamation. Let’s continue to fight for economic justice and equity while also working to establish healthy financial habits of our own. Your ministry matters. Let’s work and flourish together. 

About the Author

Rayce J Lamb

Rev. Rayce J. Lamb serves as the Director of Admissions and Enrollment Management at Wake Forest University School of Divinity in Winston-Salem, North Carolina and is the Founder of Faithonomics, a social impact venture committed to the holistic financial formation of faith leaders and their communities.

Bi-Vocational Ministry: An Introduction to Entrepreneurship, Gigs, and Side Hustles

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