The Spiritual Impact of Earning More Money

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Over the last three weeks I’ve shared how I make money blogging, writing, and selling eBooks.  Today, I want to take a moment to talk about how that income has impacted our personal finances and my spiritual life.

4 Lessons I’ve Learned By Earning More Money

When Your Income Increases, it is Hard to Maintain Your Standard of Living

Several years ago, my wife and I committed to something called a graduated tithe.  We have witnessed lifestyle inflation in so many people (including ourselves).

Interestingly, when we both earned a full-time income, we managed to spend every penny we had.  I don’t know what we spent our money on.  When we dropped down to one income, we realized that our income had 0% impact on our happiness (as long as we have a reasonable income).  We made a commitment that when/if we ever went back to being a two income family, we would not do so just to benefit ourselves.

So we put a cap on our standard of living and committed to giving more if/when our income increased.

But, it has been harder than I expected.

This leads to my second point …

You Might Not Deserve What you Think You Deserve

Sometimes I catch myself thinking that I somehow deserve more because I work harder.

For example, I buy a Coke one time a week.  However, on really hot days (it gets hot in the tropics), I think, “Hey, I’m making an extra “$x” every week – I deserve to be able to stop and get a Coke.”  Of course, it’s a lot of other things, not just a Coke.  It doesn’t matter what it is. If it involves spending money, you can easily convince yourself that because you are working harder you should spend more.

But then I’m able to remind myself that I don’t deserve anything I have.  I don’t think I’m more gifted than others and even if I am, it’s only because of God.  I may work harder than others (or may not), but it is only because God has entrusted me with gifts that he requires me to use in his service.  I am a steward that God has called to care for his resources.  Not surprisingly, if a job is done well, God may expect more from that servant.

In many ways, I think income and giftedness can be a burden as much as a blessing.  I find that when my income increases, so does my responsibility.  There are more decisions to make.

It’s Hard to Work for Others

When you limit your standard of living, you realize that much of the extra work you do will be for the sake of others.  That’s the whole point, but it also (unfortunately) takes away my motivation at times.

I don’t need any more money than I have – so why work hard to earn more?

It is easy to be motivated to help yourself, but harder to be motivated to help others.

I don’t like that.  I thought it would be the opposite.  I thought working to bless others would be easier than working to bless myself.

You Become Less Judgmental

I feel more compassion now for people who make a lot of money.

That’s why I’m less judgmental about wealthy Christians.  It’s hard to make a decent income and think you shouldn’t benefit from all that income.  It’s hard to say things about others until you’ve first experienced what it is like to ‘walk in their shoes’.

But, regardless of how hard it is, I remain committed to my personal call and my blog mission statement:

Money Help For Christians (MH4C) promotes a frugal, simple, debt-free, and generous lifestyle so Christians can faithfully maximize their resources by putting them at the disposal of God’s Kingdom. MH4C is committed to providing relevant resources in order to assist Christians in this effort.

In the end, the extra income has had little impact on our day to day living.  Bottom line – our budget has not increased by any more than $50 per month even though our income has increased by much more.  Lord willing, we plan to keep it that way.

Right now we are doing some extra giving and applying extra income towards our mortgage.  Lord willing, by February we should have our house paid off.

I’m so thankful that we figured out that money adds nothing to our happiness and that we decided to limit our lifestyle regardless of income.


  1. says

    One of the biggest challenges in earning more that we have learned is that there is such cultural pressure to spend more. At work, I hear through friends that people comment on how small my paid off house is. People at my work expect me to buy an expensive car and not an over 6 year old Toyota with steel wheels and hubcaps. I even had one of the guys on the team at work say to a friend that I was “slumming it” compared to where I could be. People at church put similar pressure on us about a bigger house, nicer car, or more kids because “you can afford it.”

    Meanwhile, we are trying to figure out how to give more of our money away, considering downsizing to lower monthly expenses to give more away, and looking for opportunities to bless those around us. (eg ) However, the pressure tells us that we are justified in our house or a nicer one even, with nicer cars, and giving away just 10%.

    For us, that pressure is one of the toughest things and I think we need to find a more supportive community.

  2. says

    @Erik: Amen! It sounds to me like you are really seeking what God wants for you instead of giving in to the world’s expectations and pressures. I say keep fighting to follow Him regardless of what people say you “deserve”.

    @Craig: I appreciate your honesty in this post. I agree it can be difficult to fight those temptations to spend more because you’ve worked so hard or because you think you deserve it. I hope you haven’t found me to be judgmental of wealthy Christians. That would mean being judgmental of myself since I am one in the context of Christians throughout the world.

    But for me, speaking out on the dichotomy of wealthy Christians is more about admonishing and accountability than judging. I know it can be hard to fight the temptations of wealth even if I’m not rich by American standards. I would never imagine it should be easy for someone earning $100,000 a year to give away 50%, 60%, or even 70% of their income. But nothing Jesus ever called us to do is easy. But through the power of the Holy Spirit we can do things that testify to the enormous, overwhelming power of His love. We can conquer the temptations and desires of the flesh in order to live generously with compassion and mercy.

    That was just something that came to my mind as I read this. I’d be interested in hearing your thoughts about it.

  3. says

    Great post! I have to remind myself constantly that all I have or will have belongs to God. His word says He will meet all my needs if I just seek Him first. I experience more joy the more I give. This joy goes way beyond the joy of making the money I give. That should tell me something!

  4. Art Ford says

    This is a challenging idea, but the more I contemplate it, the more I think that I know others who have been able to do it-perhaps I’m just coming to realize one more reason why I respect them greatly. Because I thought the ideas helpful not only to me, but to others, I shared it on FB. A friend sent back this comment that I publish without their name as I don’t have their permission to quote them here.

    “Good article. I know you’re proud of your son. A book that influenced me greatly is “The Freedom of Simplicity” by Richard Foster. My mantra from him is “always live below your means and draw a line above which you do not allow your standard of living to increase even as your income increases”.My visits to PNG also had a great impact on my view of money. When I returned from there the first time I realized I was rich in money … not just in blessings. Paying off a house as early as possible is a smart thing. I took out a 15 year loan when we moved here and paid it off in 12 years. NO debt… that’s so important.”


  5. says

    “I feel more compassion now for people who make a lot of money. That’s why I’m less judgmental about wealthy Christians. It’s hard to make a decent income and think you shouldn’t benefit from all that income.”

    The word “compassion” doesn’t seem to fit here. It sounds like you mean to say “pity.” Such as ‘I pity them because their desire to spend more of their income is only going to put them in a deeper hole.’

    And I’m confused by the wording you use, as it also sounds like that last phrase is judgmental. Are you saying that if a Christian makes more money that they shouldn’t be able to reap the benefits of that income? In other words, who are you to say how they spend their money? Do you get my point? That would be judgmental.

    • says

      I feel like a lot of people judge wealth Christians. As you earn more money you’ll realized that it is hard to avoid lifestyle inflation. I have compassion for wealth Christians who find it difficult to avoid lifestyle inflation.

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