Whose Example Are You Following?

Once I became a father, and as my boys have started to grow, I quickly realized how much these little ones look to me for guidance and how they react to a situation. Most of the time, it is simply what they observe rather than what I have told them. For example, my 3-year-old told me the other day that when he grew up, he was going to teach people about money and that I could work with him. Since he is three, you can believe we have not had long conversations about retirement and the need to save with him directly. But as my wife and I have talked through everyday conversations about life, he has picked up that learning about money is essential.

This situation would play well into a post about teaching kids about finances since they pick up more than we give them credit for, but I want to think about who influenced your thoughts and habits with money. We have all picked up our education on the subject from somewhere. If you are like me, a lot of it comes from parents or guardians. The people we love and trust significantly influence our lives, and we, like my son, observe and take in information even when we aren’t genuinely aware we are doing so.

Understanding where we picked up our model helps us adjust that model to align with God’s principles when dealing with our finances. The most important principle is not to let money be a god in your life. Everyone needs money to survive in today’s world; the key is not to let it become your reason for survival. Unpacking where you developed your model will let you realize what could be triggers for you to overspend or what keeps you from putting money away in savings and retirement could be from the model that you have built in your formative years. Just because you don’t have the habit or the model to make it come naturally right now doesn’t mean you can’t develop it. It takes effort to change or grow, but God has given us the ability to change and develop and often pushes us to do just that.

Suppose during your formative years, the people who helped create your model were living paycheck to paycheck. In that case, you are more likely to follow that path and continue the cycle onto your realm of influence even though you know that it is not the best situation. We are likely to carry on until we either purposefully make the adjustments or have a new realm of influence from which we draw our examples.

At the same time, remember you are also in the realm of influence for others. Your outlook on money and finances will affect others you love as well. We want what is best for them even if we struggle to get things right; the effort will show them the importance of our hard work.