Dangers Of Debt

credit cardsShe was excited when her friend told her about the opportunity to start a ‘side-hassle’. It seemed such a sure thing! So she applied for a bank loan and invested it all in the business. That was six months ago. Today, she’s full of regrets. The business proved to be a lot more work than she had been led to believe and has picked up very slowly. Worse still, her company is going through an unexpected financial crunch and she’s not been paid for the last two months. She even ended up borrowing from a loan shark just to pay last month’s rent. And she’s terrified at the thought of what will happen if this month’s salary doesn’t come through on time!

Welcome to the realities behind ‘easy credit’!

Some people get into debt because of reasons beyond their control; a major illness or accident, or somebody died and they inherited a debt. But most people get there because they don’t know any better! The conventional wisdom today is that debt is leverage: That it’s normal to live in debt and that you will never succeed unless you borrow; whether it’s to start a business, buy shares, pay school fees or pay for some new dresses from the lady who comes round at the office.

debt1Even though the good book doesn’t call debt a sin, it repeatedly points out the dangers of debt. Debt is enslaving. As the richest man of his time, King Solomon, wrote in the book of Proverbs, ‘The rich rule over the poor and the borrower is a servant to the lender’. Once you borrow, the lender literally ‘owns’ you! Their actions affect your mental health and how well you sleep. For example, when banks revise their interest rates upwards, you might get a note in the mail informing you about the new rate. But they certainly won’t ask what you think about it!

Debt is also expensive. Again, Solomon counsels, ‘Do not be a person who strikes hands in pledge or puts up security for debts; if you lack the means to pay, your very bed will be snatched from under you’. When you’re in debt, the principle of compound interest works against you and you end up paying far more for the things you buy than if you saved up and paid for them.

debt burden 2And as our friend found out, debt is presumptuous. It’s based on the assumption that we can control our ability to pay in the future. Solomon warned, ‘Do not boast about tomorrow for you do not know what a day may bring forth’.

Ultimately, easy access to credit can promote a culture of consumption rather than a culture of savings. It can destroy the ability to learn to live and invest within our means. Paradoxically, that’s an almost sure path not to quick wealth but to poverty!

This week, Pst Oscar continues the awesome series at Mavuno Church – The 4 Horsemen Of Financial Ruin.

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Things I Wish I’d Known About Money

A couple of weeks ago, I had the opportunity to give a talk about managing money to a group of mainly young adults going through the Mizizi experience. As I answered their different questions, I realized once again how poorly our education system trains us to manage this critical resource!  And I reflected on some of the things I wish I knew about money when I graduated from college.

money1Critical lesson numero uno: it’s not how much you earn that counts but how much you save. The work of a job is not to make you wealthy! It only provides the raw material for growing and multiplying wealth i.e. your salary. It is what you do with the salary you earn from your job that determines if you will grow wealthy or remain poor! The book of Proverbs (6:6) tells us that even with their little brains, ants are smart enough to put aside food for to ensure they survive future droughts. Years of observation have convinced me that it’s not the people who get big salaries that attain financial security but it is those who learn to live within their means, save something every month and invest when opportunities present themselves!

financial wisdomSpeaking of opportunities, number two critical lesson is regularly increase your financial wisdom. This comes through reading books about money management as well as spending time with and asking the right questions to wise investors. The truth is that money flows from the well salaried to the wise.  I have gained amazing insights and opportunities by spending time with people wiser than myself. Here again, the book of Proverbs has something to benefit us when it challenges us to ‘get wisdom at any cost’ and counsels us that wisdom is better than silver or gold (I know, you thought Bob Marley came up with that, didn’t you!).

debt

A third important lesson is understand the dangers of debt. It’s all the rage nowadays to borrow money, whether it’s to fund your business startup or to buy new furniture. But the wisdom of the Proverbs warns us that ‘the borrower is a slave to the lender’. I’ve found that for most of us, the easy availability of credit short-circuits the development of creativity and patience, as well as wisdom gained from slow growth. Coupled with which the Swahili saying ‘kukopa harusi, kulipa matanga’ (to borrow is like a wedding, to pay back like a funeral) is extremely true!

Lesson number four is live for more than money. Money is simply a tool. At the end of the day, the reason you want more is so you can have time to enjoy peace, health and good relationships with the ones you love. What the good book refers to as ‘shalom’. Never sacrifice your relationship with your loved ones because of the pursuit of money. That’s putting the cart before the horse!

familySo every Sunday this month, Pst Oscar Muriu of Nairobi Chapel is speaking at Mavuno Church about ‘The Four Horsemen Of Financial Ruin’. You owe it to yourself to be there!

Parental Advisory

tantrum1It was a moment that saved our life. My then girlfriend and I were visiting a young couple with a rather hyperactive six-year old daughter who was prone to throwing tantrums at a moment’s notice. True to form, just as we were getting into our conversation, the little girl began to raise her voice demanding attention, and the atmosphere began to tense up. But this time, the outcome was completely different from what had come to expect. Her dad looked her in the eye and said a single word calmly and with authority, ‘No!’. To our amazement, with no more incentive beyond that, the little girl immediately calmed down and the rest of the evening was spent pleasantly catching up with her parents.

Welcome to the complex world of parenting today! Many in my generation grew up in traditional homes where children were meant to be seen, not heard. Parents ruled their home with an iron fist and punishment was regularly meted on offenders with belts, slippers and in some cases slaps and even more extreme measures. Open disobedience was unimaginable and parents were feared and obeyed unquestioningly. This model in a better form had actually worked well for generations. But in an urban setting without supportive extended family structures, it broke down and more likely isolated children from their parents. It often became abusive in the hands of parents who were ill-equipped to bring up children in the new setting of the city.

tantrum2Much of today’s parenting practice is a reaction against the negative extremes of traditional parenting. Starting in the 60’s and 70’s, many parents in the West stopped depending on age-old techniques and wisdom to bring up their children but instead began relying on the teachings of modern psychology with its focus on self-esteem. As usual with time, these trends made their way here. But clearly, they too have their shortcomings. Who has not witnessed that child screaming as they demand something from their embarrassed parent in the supermarket aisle? Or had a panic attack when your friends mentioned they want to pass by your house with their not so well behaved children? The modern ideal of busy working parents who delegate almost all of the upbringing of their children to maids and drivers has only served to complicate the matter. The result of modern parenting techniques is pampered, insecure, demanding, out-of-control children with short attention spans and a sense of entitlement.

airplane2I must at this point confess that my inspiration to write this article came out of serious annoyance and sleep deprivation! I was on board a long flight in a Boeing A777 cabin where ninety adults were kept forcefully awake for several hours by two screaming toddlers whose mothers seemed unable to control them. Whereas in the past parents may have tyrannized their children, today, it is the kids who tyrannize adults!

The problem with children is that they don’t come with instructions. And yet how we bring up our children is extremely important not just for the future of the home but that of our nation.This sacred duty has huge, generational consequences and yet few people study or prepare for it. The good book in Proverbs 22:6 encourages us to ‘direct your children onto the right path, and when they are older, they will not leave it‘. But how exactly should we do this?

An important part of that answer is understanding the end result. What is the goal of raising our children? If we’re raising them to depend on us, then we are ensuring they will never succeed in life. As one of my friends used to say, children come into the world disorganized and parents have the option of either entering into their disorganization or organizing them and preparing them for an adult world. All parenting must bear in mind that we are equipping our children to be independent, productive citizens who live purposeful, value-based lives that positively impact others.

Back to the moment that saved our lives! What we learnt that day at our friend’s house is that parent’s can learn how to train their children effectively. Ourfamily2 friends shared that they had taken a class that had changed their approach to parenting. The results were so apparent that we decided that when we had our own children, we too would take that class. Several years later, we did, and have never regretted it since. Neither have our kids!

This month at Mavuno Church, Pastors Oscar & Beatrice Muriu of Nairobi Chapel will be sharing secrets they’ve learnt about this critical topic. They will be speaking candidly from their successes and failures about how to prepare our children for modern day realities. Whether you are an actual parent or a potential one in the making, you owe it to yourself to make sure all your friends, colleagues and relatives are there with you. The fate of our homes and nation may well depend on it 🙂

Five Qualities Of A True Leader

leaderPastor Simon Mbevi spoke this last September at Mavuno Church about the kind of qualities that true leaders must display. The ‘5 C’s’ he highlighted are…

1. Conciliatory – a peacemaker who builds unity
2. Caring – willing to sacrifice own needs for the people
3. Character – one who is committed to what is just and right
4. Competent – has a record of getting the job done well
5. Compelling Vision – a clearly articulated picture of what they will do for the people

He challenged the congregation in the upcoming elections not to vote for a leader because he/she is their friend, comes from their ethnic group or is wealthy but to vote for leaders who show these qualities.

He then asked the congregation to vote for such leaders EVEN IF THEY DID NOT LOOK LIKELY TO WIN.“What if he or she does not win?” You may ask. Vote for what is right, that makes you a winner even if your candidate does not win.”

Who are you planning to vote for in the forthcoming elections? Real honest now – are they the candidate that best displays the 5 Cs?

Dating Books

I mentioned a couple of books by Joshua Harris this past weekend during the ‘Buyer’s Remorse’ sermon, which was part 3 of the Finder’s Keeper’s series. You can watch the video here or join the conversation

Tired of the madness that dating has become today? Wanting to avoid the mistakes that so many around you have made? Wondering if there’s a better way? Harris in ‘I Kissed Dating Goodbye’ shares his real-life story of giving up on dating and focusing on being the one.

Same author, different context. So you’ve found a person you’re attracted to and want to take the next step. Harris makes the case for courtship, an approach as different from modern-day dating as day is to night. He shares his own story as well as that of others who’ve taken this counter-cultural approach, to show you that yes, it is possible! The appendix includes ‘8 Great Courtship Conversations’. As in people today have so forgotten how to have a real conversation! You’ll enjoy this one.

Read any good dating books that you can recommend to people hoping to one day meet the one, or people who are already in a dating relationship? Please leave a comment!

Excerpts From ‘Be The One’

Here are some excerpts from this past weekend’s message at Mavuno Church, ‘Be The One’. You can join the conversation at www.mavuno.wordpress.com. And you’re welcome to join us for part two of the ‘Finders Keepers’ series this next weekend!

  • Whether conscious or unconscious, we all come to relationships with a list of expectations.
  • There’s a big problem with our mate selection criteria today.
  • Sometimes the bible has more drama than a Mexican soap-opera!
  • Humans perform differently under test conditions than they do in real life.
  • If you operate by that external focus, then your only choice once you finally meet the person of your dreams is manipulation.
  • Looking for a Mr/Ms Right to satisfy your needs is transfering the responsibility for our joy/significance/happiness/self esteem to another person. But this is a burden we should never assign to another human being because they’re bound to disappoint!
  • Stop the insanity! Shift your focus! It’s only when we turn to God that He helps us to become the person we were meant to be.
  • Clingy, desperate women tend to attract uncaring, insensitive men… and vice versa!
  • Like attracts like. A relationship only compounds the state it found you in! Lose the list, you are your own best list… you’ll only attract people who are like you.
  • Unhealthy people attract other unhealthy people, with complimentary dysfunctions.
  • Stop searching for the One, be the One.
  • Only a whole person can attract another whole person.