Monday, February 09, 2009

The Poverty Line

2 weeks ago I received the statement of earnings for my previous year of employment. I was surprised at the number and asked my dear wife what she guessed my earnings were for 2008. Like me, she guessed a number about $5000 more than I actually made. Praise God!

According to national standards, my income fell below the poverty line and with my wife's part-time jobs we just edged over the line. But here's the joyous news:
1) We did not go into debt in 2008. We still remain debt free.
2) We were able to travel to IA twice (once by train, the other by car) and VA once (this time by plane).
3) We used very little savings.
4) As we look back, we never felt like we were in dire straits.
5) We joyfully followed Biblical principles in regards to tithes and offerings.
6) We refuse to accept state and national aid, knowing that others are in greater need than us.

Some reflections:
1. We had no medical or auto emergencies in 2008. If a family was at the poverty line and hit those types of financial and emotionally draining emergencies, I don't think they could handle the hit without assistance from others.
2. I could not afford Denver Seminary without the scholarship I have.
3. I had a job that was willingly to work around my school and family schedules.
4. I had good health insurance from my employer and I only worked 30 hours per week. Not many jobs provide such a benefit. We were blessed to have this.
5. Without the wisdom and education we received up to this point in regards to finances, I do not think we could have been as fiscally responsible.
6. All along, we have a blanket of financial security. Both of our parents could bail us out in the advent of an emergency.
7. Poverty in America (and especially around the world) is a serious issue. We need to give money to help those in need. We need to offer education related to finances. We need to show compassion over against arrogance. Many people struggle with poverty not because they don't work hard enough, but because of reasons out of their control.


Anonymous said...

I agree that many people in the world are in poverty due to circumstances outside of their control. Do you think that's also true with many in poverty in this country? I completely agree that financial education is vitally important. That seems like something that is available if you look for it. I see so many who are in poverty yet have cable tv, large cell plans, who keep their heat at 75 degrees or better in the winter. It seems like there are many steps that can be taken with education and initiative. Thanks for your post. I am constantly challenged to be more compassionate.

Matt Proctor said...

Scott, I appreciate your comments. I know in your profession you meet a lot of folks in poverty. You make some good observations that many in poverty still struggle with the same covetousness that surrounds them. I think this shows why the church (godly Christ-followers) are able to offer something far more valuable than government aid. Only Jesus can really meet our needs . . . esp, the ultimate need of salvation and providing our soul rest. Then those things that go beyond our needs (cable TV, going out to eat every night, etc) can be put to the wayside as we allow the Holy Spirit to lead us to love God and others (aka, to live less selfish lives.)

Shane Vander Hart said...

Praise God for His faithfulness!

By the way, Happy Birthday!

Anonymous said...

I agree with you about what the church has to offer that no government or other social service agency can ever offer. Loving God and loving others is what will really make a difference. I will echo Shane's comment... "Happy Birthday Friend!" Hope you enjoy your day.