I took Faith and Money Network’s online Money, Faith and You course because I was at a threshold. I knew I needed help thinking about my finances.
I was a divorced woman, starting a second career mid-life after a significant illness. I had been struggling for more than 10 years on my own. I needed a sounding board in my discernment about a new job and moving. The invitation from Mike Little came as a reference from a mutual friend. God often sends me invitations through friends.
The timing of this six-week course was really appropriate because the interview process for this new job was going well. I felt that I might be called as an associate pastor in my first parish position since graduating from seminary. I’d grown up as a preacher’s kid, worked in church music positions all my adult life, and had been working as a chaplain for four years.
Now I was looking at all the implications of a parish pastorate for my well-being. This new job had benefits and housing, educational support, and a retirement plan! That was more financial complexity than I’d dealt with before. It seemed like the right fit, and I was hanging onto the prophecy in Jeremiah 29: “I know the plans I have for you, plans that you prosper…” Could that really be happening if I took this new job? Finally.
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”Jeremiah 29:11-13
During the six weeks of the Money, Faith and You course I was searching for housing. I had never experienced a housing allowance from a job — should I rent? Or as some friends encouraged, buy a forever home (or at least an until-retirement-home)? The other members in my study group became the sounding board I needed.
The six or so participants, each with their own social situations and goals, gave room for listening and perspective. The questions posed by Mike, our convener, were never meant to feel like a chiding or a challenge but rather a chance to speak about finances openly without judgement. There was no threat of needing to be “right” but rather an invitation to be authentic and true to my nature.
What was true about my search for a home is that I wanted to be in community with others. My current situation was in a lovely “tree top” apartment within a nature reserve – a third-floor renovated attic in an historic hotel. It was serene (once I climbed 29 steps), however, it was also isolated in a little spot by the creek with not much else nearby. As I considered moving, I juggled the joy of living in a small house in a neighborhood – with neighbors! I daydreamed about possibly finding an intentional co-living situation, hopefully intergenerational for mind-opening conversations. I knew of an apartment complex within the town that was not far from the church and safe for a single woman that might provide both.
I considered the cost of renting a house vs an apartment: the cost of lawn care, the joy of a full basement, the appeal of hosting my family in a cozy home, and the value I place on being in community and knowing my neighbors. All of these I pondered as I heard the weekly reminder to use my money as an extension of my priorities and values.
Happily, I was invited and accepted the call of associate pastor. This new job makes it possible for me to have enough money to be comfortable and save for retirement. And, I use money in ways that are compatible with my values. It’s not “my” money, I just help it flow – like currency. I am content in choosing the apartment for at least the first year of my new job. I still dream of a small home to call my own. It is one way of creating wealth. Perhaps God has something in mind — but I will have to wait for that invitation too.
Fa Lane | May 13, 2021
The Rev. Fa Lane is an ordained pastor in the United Church of Christ. She took the Money, Faith and You study course in August 2020. Learn more about Money, Faith and You study groups.