How can I minimize financial debt while in school or training?

“Borrow as little as possible.”

Scripture does not prohibit borrowing money, but it is discouraged. “The borrower is servant to the lender” (Proverbs 22:7), and Christians should not be slaves to anyone.

A healthy goal for all Christians is to live debt-free so they can serve the Lord and give their tithes and offerings with joy and abandon. Therefore, borrowing should be entered into with great caution, with a plan to borrow as little as possible and to repay as soon as possible.

Money should be borrowed for needs only, not for wants. The best way to differentiate between needs and wants is to live on a budget and to buy only budgeted items. Christians borrowing money, especially those of us going into missions, should live a missionary lifestyle from the beginning. We should realize that our significance is derived from who we are in Christ, and not from what we own or whether we have the trendiest clothing and the most sought-after designer labels. 

Comb the lists of available scholarships in the financial aid office and apply for many. Avoid unsubsidized educational loans unless there is no possible alternative. At the end of each year, the accumulated interest is capitalized, and this plunges us deeper into debt. 

Seek counsel on financial management from godly counselors.

Answer from David, executive director of MedSend. David served with TEAM in South America for six years.

“All resources belong to the Lord.”

Yes, missionaries should be tithing. It’s their income, and the Lord asks of his people to give tithes and offerings. It doesn’t matter what the source of our resources are, the Lord asks for our first fruits. That means that our top budget line should be “tithe.”

Answer from Carol in Cyprus, who has served with Trans World Radio for more than 30 years.

“Receive financial support during your education.”

I believe that, to the extent possible, every church in America should support at least one seminary or Bible college student with exactly the same commitment they do a missionary or any other ministry. I also happen to believe that more families should pray about becoming personally involved in helping to train somebody to minister in areas where they cannot go themselves. 

Most ministries, and some missionaries, have the ability to let their needs be known. But in reality, average seminary students have a very difficult time, or even fear, about speaking out about their own needs. Christians shouldn’t be beggars, but on the other hand, God’s Word does not prohibit asking or letting a need be known (as best I can tell).

If all Christians were totally attuned to the Holy Spirit, and could sense every need of God’s people, these students would never have to ask for help. God depends on those who are attuned to support those who have needs.

Answer from Larry Burkett, founder of Christian Financial Concepts.

Note: This is excerpted from Larry’s radio show February 3, 1999.

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