Financial Resilience During Times of Crisis

Coronavirus piggy bank

One of the things the pandemic has hit hardest is our pockets. There are very few Australians who haven’t suffered some financial harm due to COVID-19. And in these turbulent times, we know business owners are especially vulnerable. But Rosie Kendal, CEO of Christians Against Poverty, says some people are hurting more than others right now.

Talking to 20Twenty’s Neil Johnson, she said many of CAP’s clients were already doing it tough before this trial, and are even worse off now. “It’s the start of probably a lot of people really struggling, and over a significant period of time, rather than it being something that’s here now but we’ll have got over it in the next few weeks.”

Even after someone has lost control of their finances, it can take at least 18 months for them to ask for help. “And the reasons for that are shame,” Kendal said. “I can solve this on my own. I want to solve this on my own. I got myself into this mess, and I need to get myself out of it.”

But this particular mess clearly isn’t down to individual failure, and we’re all in it together. Kendal believes this shared ordeal could teach some of us to be less judgemental toward those who have found themselves in poverty. “My hope and prayer is that people really would recognise that there have been a whole lot of circumstances that have happened that are out of our control.”

For Christians facing financial strife, the most important question is what God would want us to do with our money. For some people, Kendal says, at the moment it’s a matter of crisis management. Getting food on the table has to be the first priority. But for those of us who are in a better financial position, it’s more important than ever that we think about how to be good stewards of the resources God has given us.

setting budget

The obvious first step is making a budget, working out how you’re spending your money, whether you can save and how much, and what you’re actually saving for. “And I think the beauty of putting a budget together is that you can actually ask yourself those questions, and have clarity on where your money is going.”

“But probably deeper than that, there’s things like how do I relate to other people with my money, and what does money make me feel, and do I have any sense that my identity is wrapped up in my money, and therefore if I have less money or more money, how would that make me feel?”

Another thing to consider is how we talk to our partners, family and friends about our finances. If we’re too willing, or unwilling, to be open about where we stand, that’s a warning sign. “I think the Bible quite clearly says that money is a resource for us, but it shouldn’t be something that controls us, or it becomes our master. And therefore this is a good moment I think for us to be asking what can be very deep, difficult questions.”

Part of good stewardship involves using our money to help others, but in order to do that, we need to be “financially resilient”. We need to be sure that we will not put ourselves or our businesses in danger, even if the economic situation worsens.

In the wake of the bushfires earlier this year, a Minister told Neil Johnson that resilience was vital not just for the victims, but also for the people helping them recover. Neil asked Rosie whether that was also true for people in this situation.

“I think that is spot on in terms of the Biblical foundation,” she replied. “We know how the early Church started. And any of us who has read Acts recently, the way that they share their possessions and their financial resources is extraordinary. And therefore I think there is a big responsibility on us.”

Of course God doesn’t want you to destabilise your own finances with charity. That would only result in you needing help yourself. But now is a time where you can look to your family, friends, neighbours, colleagues and employees, and think about whether you can help them.

In other words, put your money where your mouth is. “There’s a difference, sometimes, between saying I’m supporting you and us sharing our financial resources and our possessions with one another,” Kendal said.

“And I think there’s a huge opportunity for the Church to really show the world, the nation, other people, what it is to follow Jesus, and how we can put each other first, and love each other as Jesus loved us.”

Do you know someone who’s struggling at the moment? Christians Against Poverty is offering a lifeline to people in debt nationwide. Visit their website to find out how they can help.

Listen to Neil and Rosie’s full interview below.

Tune into 20Twenty and join the conversation with Neil Johnson, weekdays on Vision Christian Radio. Click here for your local times.

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