This transcript has been edited for clarity.
Laura: This episode of Risen Motherhood is funded by our generous donors. If you liked this podcast, please consider joining them at www.risenmotherhood.com/give
Laura: Hello, and welcome to another episode of Risen Motherhood. I'm Laura Wifler, and I have my sister in law, Emily, here with me.
Today, we’re talking about somewhat of a sensitive topic. Emily and I hope to give you a discussion starter on money, materialism, and resources—how we spend it and how we think about it. It gets kind of messy in there.
Before we do that, we did want to just let you guys know about some free resources we have on our website.
Emily: Yeah, if you go to www.risenmotherhood.com/abide, you’ll find some great, free Bible study resources there. We give some simple tutorials. There are even printables for your kids that are really beautiful, and we hope are very helpful. If you're getting ready to go into the Christmas and winter season here without any formal Bible studies at church and you need something to do, we have something for you. You can just click download and print! So definitely head over there.
Laura: Yeah. As I mentioned today, we're talking about money. Emily and I have been learning a lot, especially as we prepared for the show. We want to share some takeaways. We want to start off recognizing that this is literally just a discussion starter. There’s no way we can cover the gamut of money and all the things that go into it, especially as a believer. Today we want to focus on: how does the gospel reshape our financial priorities in motherhood, especially because, if you're like us, motherhood can feel really expensive.
Emily: It was interesting, as we were processing this, one of the questions that came up first was, “What even gives us an idea of the right kind of motherhood and what we should be putting our financial resources into?” We just thought of a few that are familiar for us.
One, and probably the most primary, is the culture around us; whatever our friends at church are valuing with their financial resources, or in our local community, or in our neighborhoods. Even online we fall into different subsets on social media. Sometimes whatever I'm seeing those moms having in their homes or what their kids are wearing feels like that's what my kids need to be wearing in order to have that good mom life.
Laura: Also your upbringing—whatever your parents were valuing, whatever they instilled in you. Or maybe you want to do the opposite of what your parents did. I know sometimes that happens. And what are those things that you personally worship or that you value? We're going to give a couple of examples and no, we aren’t stereotyping here just to make a point. We’re picking on ourselves.
Emily: We're included somewhere in this list. Maybe you'll be able to guess where.
Laura: We thought this was helpful as we consider, “What's our ultimate aim in mind and how does that drive what we go spend money on today?” For some people it's thinking, “Hi, if I have the best sports training for my child and the best sports gear, that's going to equal a college scholarship or professional athlete status.”
Emily: Another one is just investment in creativity and the arts. Maybe special lessons or investing in really expensive instruments—that's a future worship leader right there.
Laura: Most definitely. Don't we all want our kids to be the one up on stage?
Emily: No, I want a well rounded sophisticated adult from that equation. Another one is just thinking that, “Hi, that's going to gain my child popularity or social acceptance.” Or even like the admiration of the other moms around you. Like, “Oh look how cute he looks.”
Laura: “They're so adorable.”
Emily: I know. I’ve always wanted that compliment.
Laura: Oh you do. I mean, we all do, not just you. That European farmhouse style living. This is the one that we see on Instagram and we're all just like, “How do they do it?” The wooden toys, the genuine leather saddle shoes, the floral dresses. It's one of those things that just looks so simple and quaint and we're all like, “How do I get that?”
Emily: If I just spent money on that dress, will we have a simpler life? Or maybe your kids aren't older yet. I know even in those little years thinking that the stylish baby wraps or the highly rated strollers or like this year's diaper bag, which frustratingly literally changes every year—
Laura: Oh yeah.
Emily: —Is going to mean you’re a cool mom. You don't look ordinary. You don't look like motherhood has messed you up.
Laura: You don’t even look like a mom.
Emily: You just can’t even look like a mom. We can easily fall into that. Even education. I think when we look ahead, we totally, naturally, and rightly want our children to experience some level of success. We think we can buy that for them with the right type of education or frequent trips to the museum, purchasing all the science kits, or maybe even investing in private school tuition.
Laura: Another one is having a nanny or a house cleaner or the grocery delivery. As moms, we often value comfort and freedom to have this convenient life that we want, and we justify it in a lot of ways. Sometimes it's necessary but sometimes it's not. Maybe you're somebody who's very intentionally frugal and you budget, and you're just the master of sales and coupon clipping.
This is the person that I’m not. Although I very much sometimes wish that I could be, but there's always another side to that. Of course, having a tight grip on every penny that goes in and out can equate to wanting that financial security and control. It could be even an admiration from others who maybe don't manage money quite as well as you.
Emily: Mm-hmm. I feel like as we were constructing these examples we were like, “This could go on and on and on,” but the point of this was to show this connection between our actions in spending and how they actually reveal what our hearts treasure. Jesus talks about where our treasure is, there our heart will be also. It's really important that we see this tangible connecting line between how we're spending our money and what it is that we often value and treasure.
Laura: And we want to make a quick note here that you may be someone who's just barely getting by. As you're hearing us talk about this stuff, you might be eye-rolling pretty hard, because you're just trying to make sure that everyone has their basic needs met right now.
We actually received a note from somebody that was really helpful for Emily and I. We admit we speak from a middle class lifestyle, just so you guys know where we're coming from. But we heard from a mom and we felt like this was really helpful and a perspective to keep in mind.
She says, “It's so easy for me to fall into bitterness and envy when I see other families who can take their children to museums and music lessons, swim lessons, etcetera. Mothers who have regular weekly help with their children from their mother-in-laws and I don't have anybody, even though I also work full time from home. Mothers who can provide clothing, and seasonal décor, and fun activities for their children when I can't, because there's no discretionary money in the budget for even clothing. Bitterness, anger, jealousy; I'm fighting against this every day.”
Emily: We want to acknowledge that at some level, we all struggle with this desire to acquire material things. Sometimes that desire is really good and normal and it's born of this desire to provide for our children, which is right and good. Other times it's born out of discontentment.
You can have plenty of financial resources and still thoughtlessly do that if-then thinking, “If I spend money on A, B and C, then my child is going to have the life that I want them to have or I'm going to be the type of mom that I really want to be.”
Laura: It's interesting how money and sin levels us all right? None of us really deal with anything in life perfectly. It doesn't matter if you have too much, if you have too little, or you have just a medium amount. No matter what you have for income and finances, it's hard. I think Satan uses it to manipulate our heart motivations and make things really hard, so our sin manifests out of it.
One side note I think that's interesting is if you're having a lot of if-then statements in your mind, it's usually a really good indication of what we think we need to be content, or joyful, or justified. If we’re thinking, “Oh, if I do this, then I'll be a better mom, or I'll be a good mom, or my kids will be more set up for the future.”
This is a hard conversation that we're having today, but we still hope that the gospel hope we're going to share in a minute reaches you in a very new and convicting way, and that you take away some hope from today's show.
Emily: Creation is always a very stark reminder that God owns everything. Every resource originally belongs to him. He's the one that breathes everything into existence. We tell our toddler that when you build that tower, your brother cannot come in and destroy it. [laughter] The creator has that special authority.
Ultimately he gave us all the good gifts in creation to worship him alone. His intention was that people would find their worth and their value in him and enjoy him the most. What I think is interesting is wherever we look in scripture to see God's design for finances, it's always rooted in his agenda, in his desires. When he does give riches, it's for the purpose of saying, “Hi, we're going to pull these together and build the tabernacle or the temple, a place to worship me or give sacrifices.” Or, “Hi, set aside some of this for the poor who are among you.”
His design always assumes that we're going to serve him first and not serve our money, and that he has all of our allegiance. It's really only when we get into the fall, which we'll touch on next, that we see money as a tool—that's a very good gift—as being something that's used wrongly for our own ends.
Laura: And as Emily mentioned, in the fall, Adam and Eve took a hold of God's resources for their own purposes and their own gain through eating the fruit. They are banished from the garden, and now they are sent out to live in a world that's corrupted—by sin we act out and also a fallen world and the state that we live in.
Because of our sin, our hearts don't want God, they want stuff, or experiences, or cute dresses, or little bows, or soccer balls, whatever that may be. They want little idols that we use to replace God. As moms, we believe we have the power to make our children happy and give them this roadmap to success.
Society tells us that the roadmap is going to cost you money. We're told that in order to make them good people, or to make them accepted in school, or to be the popular kids, they need certain things. You need to buy these clothes. You need to put them in these lessons. You need to do all of these things. We buy into that lie, thinking that our success and our goodness as a mother is measured by our ability to give them a certain lifestyle.
Emily: What's interesting is that our freedom, our greatest good, the thing that would turn us into the best citizens of the world, the most successful people, the most joyful, happy children, wasn't something that could be purchased with money or his created goods. God pays the greatest cost in the life and punishment of his own son.
Where we have used our monetary resources for our gain and for our glory, God turns around and he gives his most precious Son for our gain and for his glory. It's really interesting that he understands our need goes beyond these physical things and he sees the needs of our hearts and like, yes, those physical things are important, but he says, “Seek the Kingdom of God first.”
He is gracious to meet our needs even in lean seasons, but he wants to ultimately teach us that our wandering hearts will never ever be fully satisfied except in him. Instead of focusing on giving us stuff, God gives us himself.
Laura: Something else I love is when we get to consummation, there's going to be streets of gold, foundations of precious stone, gates of pearls. The thought would be, “Well, geez, we're going to be wanting to worship that. It's going to be so beautiful. That's what we're going to want. We're going to be idolizing that.” Even with all of that around us, our hearts will finally be content.
We'll be worshiping, focusing, and desiring only God, because we're going to fully see his presence and we're going to fully see his glory. It'll sort of be laughable that we ever desired anything else in this life. So we'll finally fully live out that first commandment, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.” Oh, praise the Lord.
Emily: I look forward to that. Just to keep this conversation moving towards a little bit more practical principles, again, knowing that there's no way we can cover all the ideas in this show. First off, Christ is the greatest treasure we’ll ever have. It sounds a little bit like I'm saying it to little Tuck, “Christ is the greatest treasure you'll ever have,” but it's true for us too. It's something we need to take hold of and remember.
In the Gospels, in Matthew 13, we see this parable of the hidden treasure. Jesus talks about the Kingdom of God being like this treasure hidden in a field. When this man finds it, he sells everything he has to go buy this field because the most precious thing is there. I think that is true of our lives too, that whenever we realize the value of Christ, we can really elevate him above all the other earthly treasures that we have.
Laura: As some practical takeaways, just remembering that this starts with us and making sure our treasurer truly is Christ. Is that what our kids are seeing? What would they say if we ask them? As we're communicating our values to our children, let's make sure that we're encouraging them to hope in Christ alone, not in their achievements or the worldly things that money can buy. No matter what, just remember that you can have that treasure of Christ, no matter how much is in your bank account.
Just a little side note, I've noticed a great time to do that is at birthday parties or after Christmas when they've gotten a lot of new stuff and they are still not satisfied. You're like, “Guess what, you just got all the things you ever wanted and you are still not happy. Why do you think that is?” It leads to a great conversation about how none of that stuff is ever really going to satisfy them.
Emily: Good mom truth right there. That's a great practical nugget there.
Laura: Just throwing it out there.
Emily: So another principle that we see is that everything belongs to God. We are stewards of the things that he's given us. Psalms and Proverbs talks about this a lot: the earth and everything in it, the world and its inhabitants belong to the Lord. Honor the Lord with your possessions and with the first produce of your entire harvest.
When we think about a steward, it's someone who uses and wisely cares for something that belongs to someone else. We're just holding onto it. As we talked about previously, God is the one who casts the vision and designs how we should be using our money. In the Bible, he's asked us to use our resources to support the spread of the gospel. That's through church and missionaries to help the poor, the widow, the vulnerable, and to love others and invest well for the gain of the Kingdom.
When I hear these things, I immediately kind of clench up and start to question every single spending habit I have. There's a lot of room for personal conscience here, for working this out in community, working this out with your own husband. Just for the mom who's listening, a takeaway would be to ask questions and say like, “Do my purchases and the lifestyle that I'm building reflect God's desire for his kingdom?” That’s a scary question to ask.
Again, be on the same page with your husband. I think that that is a really difficult conversation to have at times. It's important when you see that red flag. Oftentimes I know my husband will see it. This fall, in fact, he asked, “Are you planning on buying any more clothes this fall because I feel like there's been a lot coming in lately?” It was a gentle way of reminding me, “Emily, you have enough; let's stop.” We moved on. I didn't buy any more fall clothes.
Laura: The last principle is the only things that last are God, his word, and his people. This is really helpful for me in all of life, not just money. God cautions us against falling in love with certain lifestyles or a certain image, things that the world touts as significant. If you're anything like me, you get caught up in that Instagram-worthy living, feeling like I need, as Emily said, some cute, new fall trendy clothes. Or that I want to have this great meal for dinner tonight, and it needs to be these types of ingredients. Or these are the new hot toys for Christmas.
A lot of times those things, as we chase after them in our hearts and in our minds, they're taking us away from our love of God. We're not recognizing what really matters; what is eternal. It's God, his word, and his people.
Emily: Just some good takeaway questions for this are to evaluate, “What do my spending choices show about what I love?” Asking that question, “Am I investing primarily in the things that are going to last for eternity?” “What am I in love with? Is it being trendy or having these toys, or is it furthering God's mission and his Kingdom?
We know there are many more things that could be said on this topic, but we really hope this is just a small start to get conversations started. Whether it's with your husband at home or maybe in a small group with your local church, or just other moms that you meet and talk about the gospel with, to discuss, “How do our hearts shape what we spend?”
Laura: And as a response, we're hopeful that you're willing to ask yourself the hard questions. I think money is one of those uncomfortable topics that we just all want to squirm away from when we feel the pressure on, or maybe some conviction or some guilt with the way that we've been spending our money.
We hope that you're willing, as Emily said, to discuss these things and then take action. Just remember that the Bible says, “No man can serve two masters.” You cannot serve both God and money. God's word is really clear on this. We're hopeful that after you listen to this show, you evaluate the ways you're using your money that he's given you as a tool for service to him, not as ways that you can serve yourself or your children.
Emily: We hope that just scratches the surface for you guys, and that there are some good reminders that everything we have belongs to the Lord and we are to glorify him with what we have. You can find more about this at www.risenmotherhood.com or find us on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter @risenmotherhood. Thanks for joining us, guys.