One of my main motivations for helping you get control of your money is to enable you to be in a position to help others and give extravagantly.
Our world engine operates on the fuel of money, and if you have the financial capability, you can do a lot of good. As Margaret Thatcher said: “No-one would remember the Good Samaritan if he’d only had good intentions; he had money as well.”
But how do we define help in the case of friends and family in financial need? What happens when you get that phone call or e-mail saying: “I am in dire need of money”? Do we lend money as asked? Do we simply give it if we have it, regardless of the person or the situation? Is there a good time to say no to someone who says they are in need?
I would like to give you a simple process to help you walk through a financial request from a family member or a friend. I hope you find it useful to deal with your family member or friend in truth and in love.
As a Christian, this is usually my first step. Ask for time to respond and consider the request. Personally, I need divine wisdom to evaluate the situation and the person making the request. If you are not a person of prayer, then make this your “sleep on it” or “think through it” step.
Please take your time to evaluate what you will do. Do not respond immediately simply out of emotion. Sure, emotion and feelings play a part in this, but make sure you give yourself time to decide.
2. Talk it Over
If you are married, do not skip this step. Remember, you and your spouse are building a life together and you should make money decisions together. Don’t try to hide it to avoid a difficult conversation. Your spouse deserves the truth and the opportunity to respond and weigh in on the decision.
Talk it over with your spouse because you need his/her wisdom to respond in this situation. If you are single, you still need the wisdom of a trusted friend or advisor. This person can give you objective advice to help you make your decision.
3. Speak the Truth
Here comes what might be the most difficult part. You may know why this person is in this situation. It is quite possible that a major issue like an illness or a job loss is the cause of the financial distress.
But it is also quite possible that it is the result of mismanagement of money. Don’t get me wrong. I have mismanaged quite a lot of money myself, so I understand how this happens. We all make mistakes with money and I know that it hurts when someone we love is making some of the same mistakes.
However, this might be a good opportunity to speak truth into this person’s life. If they feel close enough to you to ask for money you should feel close enough to offer some advice at this time.
Talk about how you have turned your situation around and tell this person you are willing to walk alongside to share what you have learned. The person might not be as receptive in the future and you can be a part of turning their situation around for good.
4. Show the Love
Be careful as to how you define help. Personally, I don’t lend money to friends or family members because it changes the nature of the relationship. I don’t need to be in a master-slave relationship with someone I love (Proverbs 22:7).
However, if you are in a position to give this person the money do it. Make sure you are not enabling bad behavior (i.e., giving a drunk a drink) and that you are truly helping. If you think the money will harm the person, be careful that you are not making the problem worse. You might be better off showing love by saying no.
Otherwise, if you are dealing with a family member, it is your flesh and blood, give them the money. If it is a friend, then by all means be a friend (I John 3:17). Be a blessing when you can be a blessing.
One last thing. The person might insist on paying you back. Be firm and state that you are not making a loan. Simply say that the only “repayment” you want is for them to get their finances in order and that when the time comes, they help someone else in need. In other words, ask them to pay it forward and be a blessing to someone else.
“It is better to give than to lend, and the cost is about the same.”
Sir Philip Gibbs (1877-1962)
This post is also available in: Spanish