Dear Dr. Buckingham,
I have been saved and walking with the Lord for about three years now. Last year, I was blessed with the opportunity to begin my career in another state. There was a man at my church home who I was attracted to; however he never approached me or expressed interest in me. Because I was leaving, I decided to pursue a casual sexual relationship with him. I knew this was outside of God’s will and I struggled with it for sometime. I prayed and asked God to cover me, then I sent him my number on Facebook.
He contacted me later that evening and expressed that he had been admiring me for quite some time. He said he had been praying, asking God for a relationship with me and that he was only interested in pursuing a Godly relationship with me. I was amazed, God had answered my prayer! The only problem…he did not have a job; in fact, he was homeless. Given the amazing circumstances, I overlooked that and was open to a friendship with him.
Almost a year later, he is my best friend, even though we are miles apart. For the most part, he is everything I want in a husband and we are discussing marriage. The only hang-up for me is his financial/living situation has not changed. He is pursuing a career in ministry but when I try to get an understanding of his goals and plans he gets defensive. He says his goal is to work in ministry and God will provide a job when the time is right. He says a job is not important to him, but serving God is. I can see his dedication in studying and learning the Word but I still wonder, am I wasting my time? How can I get a better understanding of his goals/plans without him getting defensive? Or has he already told me what I need to know?
Should I Marry a God-fearing Man Who Is Financially Unstable?
Lost in Love
Dear Lost in Love,
Your dilemma is one that millions of successful women are facing on a regular basis these days. As we navigate through the 21st Century, discussions about money and men continue to remain on the forefront. The belief that the man should be the financial provider is deeply rooted in the psyche of most Christians. I Timothy 5:8 states that the husband is required to provide for his household financially. Given this, many people believe that men are responsible for working and building a prosperous household based on financially stability. I agree with this partially.
I agree that a man is responsible for leading his household. However, I do not agree that his worth should be measured in terms of his economic or financial value. A man who leads his household with wisdom from a Godly perspective, assists with childrearing and nurtures his wife’s needs and passions, should be viewed as a great provider and good husband. In response to your question, here are three suggestions.
1) Examine your belief system and decide what kind of work is important to you. This is critical. I am a believer in miracles and have faith in God, but I am also a believer in working. James 2:14-26 states that “Faith without Works is Dead”. Most Christians believe that this scripture is referring to working to earn money in order to survive and thrive. You will hear individuals say that you have to work in order to get want you need and want. You will also hear them say that praying is no good if action is not taken. In actuality this scripture is referring to living a lifestyle that reflects your faith in God and the ability to live a lifestyle that reflects God’s teachings.
In order to live a certain lifestyle, especially a Godly lifestyle, you have to transform which requires work. Some people believe that if they work diligently serving God, they will get what they need and want. It appears that your friend believes that working for God is more important than working for money and material things. It also appears that he believes that a man’s obedience to God is the best work that he can do.
Like me, you have probably heard of stories of men who are rich from a financial perspective, but are poor spiritually. With this in mind, you must decide what kind of work is important to you.
Secular Work. Do you want to have a great relationship with a man who is financially stable? This involves being with a man who will work long hours and do whatever is needed to provide for his family. Making money drives him. He is faithful to his craftsmanship and might be consumed by his work from a secular perspective. Is this the kind of work that is important to you?
Spiritual Work. Do you want to have a great relationship with a man who is spiritually stable? This involves being with a man who will work diligently to serve God. Being obedient to God drives him. He is faithful to God and might be consumed by his work from a spiritual perspective. Is this the kind of work that is important to you?
I know that the ideal situation would be to have a great relationship with a man who is balanced and embraces both kinds of work. Unfortunately, this does not appear to be your situation. This leads me to my second suggestion.
2. Determine if you can remain patient and accept your friend’s work. You have probably heard success stories of individuals who were homeless or down on their luck and great things happened for them because they did God’s work and allowed Him to lead them. Being patient can be rewarding. Set a timeframe and closely monitor his growth and earning potential. Support his dream, but make sure that he is considerate of your aspirations and values them as well. Before you continue with the relationship, take some time to determine if you have the patience and faith to invest in your friend’s work.
3. Do not get blind-sided by his spiritual ambition and ignore his worldly behavior. There has to be balance. From a psychological perspective, I am a strong believer that actions speak louder than words. Here are a few questions to help you better assess his likeliness to succeed in ministry and to become a provider. Is he taking appropriate steps to progress in ministry? Does he have realistic goals and expectations? Is his action in line with what he desires? In what way is he trying to improve his financial or living situation? Is his idea of the future compatible with yours? Is he a good steward over the things he has? Is he willing to talk through and learn from his defensiveness?
It is important for all of us to serve and worship God, but we must be mindful that we are in the flesh. God wants us to reach heaven, but He also wants us to thrive on earth. Make sure that your friend understands the importance of balance. His love for God is noteworthy and so is your love for him. However, as you explore the possibility of marriage, remember that love does not pay the bills. Financial conflict is the second leading cause of divorce besides ineffective communication. If you can accept being with a man who is not currently focused on monetary prosperity, then practice patience and continue to seek guidance. Do not rush into marriage without seeking secular and spiritual counsel. A professional counselor like myself can help you better understand your friend’s psychological mindset and behavior. Sometimes mental health issues are minimized or overlooked when spirituality is glorified.
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Disclaimer: The ideas, opinions and recommendations contained in this post are not intended as a substitute for seeking professional counseling or guidance. Any concerns or questions that you have about relationships or any other source of potential distress should be discussed with a professional, in person. The author is not liable or responsible for any personal or relational distress, loss or damage allegedly arising from any information or recommendations in this post.