How much stress are you experiencing about money as the year comes to a close? If your church follows a calendar year, you may be wondering how the end-of-year giving will tally with end-of-year expenses. You may be wondering whether you will get a raise for 2011 - or avoid a salary cut. When I was a pastor I always felt on edge about the church's finances in December and early January. A snowy December Sunday with low attendance (and giving) could throw off our financial projections. I couldn't relax until the annual meeting in January.
As you finish up your gift-giving for Christmas, I want to suggest five gifts you can give yourself to help you manage your anxiety around money. They cost nothing, or almost nothing.
Here they are:
1. Make a list of five aspects of church finance you are not responsible for and cannot control. For example: You cannot control how much people give in December (or any other time). Or, you can't make church leaders make the right decision (whatever "right" may be for your church) about salaries or budget.
2. Spend five minutes in meditation or prayer around your list from #1. Offer each one to God in turn, and ask for the ability to let go, at least for this month.
3. (Here's the one that costs a bit.) If you are a saver, spend $5 on something you like. I know, you can't get much for $5, but see what you can do: gourmet ice cream, a magazine, four tunes from iTunes. If you are a spender, put $5 in savings before the end of the year. See if you can increase your repertoire of choices around money - that's a gift in itself.
4. Spend five minutes (at least) talking with the person in your church - or even better, your family - who is least anxious about money. Calm is contagious, just like anxiety. You don't even have to talk with them about money for this to be a gift to yourself. Connecting with someone like this is likely to calm you down.
5. Read Matthew 6:25 and following, a verse or two a day:"do not worry about your life..." Try reading it aloud so your brain takes it in through your ears as well as your eyes. God "knows that you need all these things."
Get the free mini-course, "Five Ways to Avoid Burnout in Ministry" at http://margaretmarcuson.com/.