10 Very Easy Ideas to Help Every Christian Immediately Breakthrough Common Obstacles to Faith and Finances

by Van Richards, Christian Examiner Contributor |

There is a close relationship between Christian faith goals and personal financial goals. Financial goals that Christians choose can help them accomplish their faith goals.

Christianity is not about accumulating things. It is a faith that values service to others above being self-serving. Yet how Christians control their wealth is essential to fulfilling the ideals of the religion.

Thus, the first step to Christian financial planning is not to discuss money or possessions. The first step is to set faith goals. Integrating faith goals, that fulfill the ideals of being a Christian, with personal financial goals can bring an important balance to life. So today, this article will focus on faith goals.

Regardless of denomination, most Christians share certain ideals. They spend time with God in prayer; they aspire to have physical involvement with their Church; they offer financial support when possible; Christians are in service to others; and they share their faith with other Christians and with non-Christians. A Christian's ideals can be summarized in these five words: prayer, presence, gifts, service, and witness. These are five pillars of Christianity that are easy to talk about, yet take a lifetime to embody.

Having a plan to accomplish your faith goals will help you bring happiness to your family life, work and community life. If having faith goals can bring harmony to peoples' lives, then why don't more people make them? Some people have difficulty accepting Christianity in their life because they cannot overcome conflicts within themselves.

Here are several mindsets that people encounter when trying to resolve their internal struggles with faith. If you want to improve your understanding of, and commitment to, Christianity, reflect on your feelings and see if any of these mindsets describe your situation. Afterwards, I will share some more suggestions that may help further your relationship with Jesus Christ. Here are the 10 mindsets:

  1. Being Overwhelmed—There are several ways to become overwhelmed by Christianity. Some people go to a Church and cannot find a connection between the sermon on Sunday and their life. Or being overwhelmed can occur at the other end of the spectrum. There are so many ways to be involved that they cannot relate the Church activity with their everyday life. In either case, prayer can help you out of your feeling of being overwhelmed. Journaling helps significantly too. Write down your troubles and connect with God through prayer. Ask God how to resolve your issues and write down your thoughts. Journaling before and after prayer can help you clear your thoughts and create reasonable faith goals to help you get past being overwhelmed.
  2. Fear of Criticism, Disapproval, or Resentment—These three mindsets center around other people's opinions. Some people fear that if they become active with a Church that other people may criticize them, as these other people disapprove of Christians and resent the religion because of what it represents. Creating faith goals will help you crystalize Christian beliefs in your own life. You cannot control what other people say and do. You can only control how you react. Christianity is a faith of tolerance and forgiveness. There is no better way to react to other peoples' negativity than by tolerance and forgiveness. If you experience uncomfortable feelings from other peoples' intolerance, write in your journal and spend time in prayer over the situation. Writing your experiences can sometimes help you settle your feelings in the situation and help you better understand God's response to your prayers.
  3. Fear of Failure—The fear or hesitation of seeking a more meaningful association to Christianity can take on several different perspectives. Some people hesitate in involvement because of the commitments. It is true that if you have physical involvement with a Church, you may be asked for even more involvement. Learn your limitations and communicate when you can and cannot participate. Additionally, some people hesitate in involvement because they do not feel like they belong. This is where journaling your thoughts and feelings can help a great deal. If you write how you feel about involvement or commitment, you may find that the negative emotions that you feel toward religion may be because of misconceptions or incorrect assumptions. Journaling your thoughts and feelings can help you come to a better understanding of how Christianity can benefit your life.
  4. Guilt and Shame—Some people are paralyzed by guilt and shame. This happens in two ways. Guilt can be because a person feels regret and remorse over their actions. Feeling guilty and ashamed of personal actions only improves through the acceptance of the responsibility for one's past actions and then, following this acceptance, requesting God's forgiveness. Sometimes people need help in getting beyond the experience that left them feeling guilt and shame. If you are having so much trouble that you feel you cannot handle your situation alone, you may need the help of a mental health professional. Many times, Churches can refer you to mental health professionals that can help you tackle a troubling situation from a Christian perspective. If you are experiencing guilt or shame because of another person's actions, take a moment and reflect upon yourself—in an instance involving two consenting adults, you cannot be responsible for another person's actions. Keeping a journal can help any person work through tough personal situations. If you feel guilty about another person's actions, write to yourself and explain why you feel guilty. Many times, writing can help you see the illogical nature of a situation. Writing about your feelings before and after your time of prayer will help you better understand God's intention for you and help you to handle tough situations such as guilt and shame.
  5. Helplessness—Some people feel helpless and lost in life and do not know how to get out of their despair. If you feel lost, connect with a Church. There are good people that will help you learn more about Christianity, and help you understand the Bible. As you learn more about Christianity, your helplessness will be replaced with empowerment.
  6. Hopelessness—Some people think that their life is hopeless. They feel that they have not been involved in a Church for so long that there is no use trying to return. But the reality is, no one is hopeless. Jesus Christ gave up his life to benefit everyone who is willing to accept him as their Savior. Christian Churches have many people that are empathetic and willing to help you move beyond your past. God has a short memory—ask for forgiveness and you are forgiven. The beginning of a better life only requires the first step. Commit to learning more about this by attending a Church.
  7. Jumping to conclusions—If you hear a pastor talk about changing your life or a Church group discusses ideals that seem impossible for you to reach, don't jump to conclusions. Not every sermon applies at the same level for each person. Plus, when some ideals seem too challenging to accomplish, having an attitude that this is an opportunity to learn how to pray will come in handy. Try making entries into a private journal and then take those thoughts to God through prayer. If you make prayer part of your faith goals, it will help your personal life and your Church involvement.
  8. Self-labeling—Some people do not see themselves as religious people. Many believe in God and Jesus, yet they do not see themselves as a member of a Church congregation. Self-confidence will come with prayer and the study of Christian writing. Note that I said Christian writing, rather than only referring to the Bible. While the Bible is the definitive handbook of every Christian, many writers offer brilliant insight into Bible scripture and everyday life. You can also find more of the value of physical involvement with a Church by joining small study groups. Small study groups take the time to discuss the Bible and other contemporary Christian writers.
  9. Self-reliance and perfectionism—Some people see religion as a waste of time and money. They think there is nothing that a Church can do for them, and the stories Churches tell are too unrealistic. Some portions of Christian history may be hard to believe. However, do not discard Christianity because a few aspects seem unrealistic or not worthwhile of further consideration. Christianity does offer people today the opportunity to improve our lives through the understanding of the blessing that Jesus Christ made available to us all. If you are not sure what Christianity can do in your life, start with small steps. Look at the ideals of being a Christian and create a reasonable plan for studying and being involved with a Church. It may sound cliché; however the rewards are priceless.
  10. Undervaluing the rewards of Christianity—Being a follower of Jesus Christ is not just about going to heaven. Although heaven is a significant aspect of Christianity, it is not the entire philosophy of being a Christian. As you further your relationship with Jesus Christ, you will find more purpose in your everyday life. God made us all and has a plan for us all. It is our choice to accept that plan.

As you go through your life, you may experience mindsets such as these. The keys to overcoming many of these mindsets are prayer and journaling. If you can train yourself to write down your troubling thoughts when they occur, you will find that it is much easier to rationalize why you have such thoughts. Additionally, writing down your thoughts and feelings before and after prayer will help you avoid using the existence of negative emotions as proof that a negative mindset is true. Conquering negative mindsets concerning your religion will help keep you on track with your faith goals and eventually, your personal financial goals.

Here are a few questions to ask yourself about your faith goals—and again, writing answers to these questions down in your journal will help you understand how to make progress on these goals. What are you doing now to fulfill each of these goals? How often do you pray? How are you involved with your Church? How do you support your Church financially? How do you offer service through your Church? And lastly, how are you witnessing your faith to others?

Like the thoughts written in your journal, when you write down what you are doing to accomplish your faith goals, these notes are between you and God. If you understand where you are with your faith goals, your deeper understanding will help you further your service to God. Keep in mind, this is not an exercise to make you feel guilty about what is left undone.

Still, if you feel overwhelmed at this point, that's okay. How you are able to fulfill your faith goals will vary over time. Few people can say that they cannot improve upon their faith goals. Here is a simple way to keep track of your progress. Keep a daily calendar, and at the end of each day or the beginning of the next day, write in your calendar what you will do concerning each faith goal. It should take no more than ten minutes. For example, is prayer a part of your daily routine? If it is, write down when you plan to pray.

An important faith goal is to make prayer a daily part of your routine. Buy a daily calendar with scriptures and read it each day. Another favorite tool that helps many people with scripture reading and prayer is the YouVersion app for smartphones and tablets. It's free, and you can set up notices so the app will send you a daily scripture. Pray and journal on this verse each day. Doing this everyday will help you to clarify your thoughts on your faith life and will improve your understanding of God.

Faith goals are the five pillars of Christianity previously mentioned: prayer, presence, gifts, service, and witness. Once you have a plan for your prayer goal, you can work on the remaining four goals. Write in your calendar when you will be engaged in an activity for each goal. Again, writing in your faith-goal plans for each day should only take a few moments. You may not be able to write about every goal each day or week. However, as you further your time with God in prayer, you will find it easier to fit activities from the other faith goals within your weekly routine.

– Van Richards is a Christian financial advisor as well as the founder of https://www.Advice4LifeInsurance.com and http://www.Advice4Retirement.com. Van draws from his 30 years as a financial advisor to write about financial issues from a Christian perspective. You can contact him at van@advice4lifeinsurance.com.