Shortly after I graduated from law school and moved back to Billings to work in Federal court, I received some life-changing advice from a man I’d never met before.
Bob Hagstrom was a medical doctor who was recognized as one of the “spiritual elders” of the city. One of his many activities was to use his network of friends to identify new college graduates so he could take them to lunch and give them “the talk.”
Bob invited me to meet him at the hospital cafeteria … not because it was convenient but because he could get a discount, saving money that he preferred to give to one of the many ministries he supported.
After a few minutes of “getting-to-know-you” conversation, Bob got right to the point. I can still remember the earnest look on his face as he spoke these words to me:
“You’ve just graduated from college and now have a job with a good salary. After many years of pinching pennies, you’re going to be tempted to start buying things on credit. A nice stereo, a newer car, better clothes and furniture, maybe even a house. Before long, you’ll have committed most of your income to paying debts. And then you’ll be stuck.”
“If you learn of a ministry that needs support, you’ll say, ‘I’d like to help but I don’t have any extra cash.’ And if God calls you into a ministry, you’ll say, ‘I can’t afford to take that kind of salary cut.’”
“So be wise. Don’t chain yourself to debt. Live a simple life. Make do with the things you already have. Pay off your student loans as quickly as possible and save all that you can. And when the day comes that God calls you to give your money or yourself to building his kingdom, you’ll be able to answer, ‘Here am I, Lord. Send me.’”
If Bob had not given me “the talk,” I would have probably done exactly what he warned me against. But because of his bold exhortation, I avoided the chains of impulsive debt and saved my money.
A year later, I faced two very different opportunities. One was to accept a job offer at an outstanding law firm. The other was to launch a peacemaking ministry that had no budget, no income and no salary.
Thanks to Bob’s wise advice, I was able to turn down the security of the law firm and step out in faith to establish the Christian Conciliation Service of Montana … which eventually grew into Peacemaker Ministries and Relational Wisdom 360.
Following Bob’s example, I’ve given “the talk” to many young people over the years, urging them to keep themselves free to follow whatever calling God places on their resources or their lives.
I encourage you to do the same. If you’re just launching your career, avoid debt and leave yourself lots of room to say yes to whatever God calls you to do with your life.
And if you know some recent graduates, why not invite them out to lunch and give them “the talk.” Your bold counsel may be the key to enabling them to someday echo Isaiah’s words, “Here am I, Lord. Send me.”
~ Ken Sande
- Have you allowed yourself to be so tied down with material possessions or debts that you don’t feel free to respond to opportunities to support or engage in ministries that God brings before you? How could you change your life in the next few years to regain such freedom?
- Think of people you know who seem to have the desire and freedom to respond to opportunities to support or engage ministries that are advancing God’s kingdom. What is it about their lives that seems to give them such flexibility and freedom?
- Do you know any recent college graduates or young people who are just launching their careers? If so, go and give them “the talk.”
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© 2017 Ken Sande
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