Hard Choices

Written by Kevin P. Gilmore
From the Director

life-stewardship-01-21_article.jpgI recently read a Facebook post from a friend who shared comments about choices we face in life. The original source is unknown, but the truth is valid:

  • Marriage is hard. Divorce is hard.
            Choose your hard.
  • Obesity is hard. Being fit is hard.
            Choose your hard.
  • Being in debt is hard. Being financially disciplined is hard.
            Choose your hard.

Anything of value that commands our time and attention is typically never easy. Failing to pay attention to things like a marriage or to physical and financial health can be very difficult on us and those we love.

I wish everything in life was easy, but the reality is, life is tough. The Lord makes this clear in John 16:33: “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world” (NIV). At my brother’s funeral, the pastor spoke to the importance of faith during times of “light and momentary troubles.” Light and momentary troubles? At the time, I remember thinking how very difficult life without my brother was going to be on his wife and young family. That was 20 years ago, and life has been tough without him, but as we look back, we see how the Lord has provided for them.

Considering eternity, everything on earth is momentary, which makes hard choices so important. We spend our earthly lives dealing with the consequences of our choices, so we need to choose wisely.

Have you ever noticed whenever we have an abundance of something, we tend to waste it? If you are a procrastinator you know exactly what I am talking about.

As we begin this new year, we have a prime opportunity to step back and evaluate where we are.

While being in debt is hard, I believe and have shared that taking on debt is relatively easy. Yes, the people and organizations with money to lend all have standards and criteria to meet, but the truth is they are more anxious to lend than we are to borrow. Being in debt makes it more difficult to choose wisely by limiting our options. When we buy things on credit, we set a course for how our money is going to be spent in the future.

Think about how such principles apply to money and time. When we are young and just starting careers, we think we have all the time in the world—there is no sense of urgency to save or plan for retirement. It is easy to think we can better afford to do it later. One of life’s hard choices is to create long-term goals and then sit down and chart how to achieve them. It seems difficult to plan for events that are 40+ years away. It is even harder to formulate a plan, stick to it, review it regularly and adjust, as necessary. When we force ourselves to plan ahead, things like creating debt come clearly into focus prompting us to make better decisions.

The hard truth is—the more time we have, the less money it will take to fund retirement. The opposite is true as well—the less time we have, the more money it is going to take. Those with a minimal amount of time and money before retirement must work longer than originally anticipated—that is, if they are able.

As we begin this new year, we have a prime opportunity to step back and evaluate where we are. If we have failed to plan properly, the first thing we should do is forgive ourselves, because we cannot change the past. Then, we should take action to do what we can to remedy the situation. Ignoring reality only make matters worse and causes greater stress than acknowledging where we stand and having a plan to work with.

For those who have lots of anticipated time ahead before retirement, I encourage you to make the hard choice now. Although initially it may cause discomfort, in the long term it will make things better for you and your family. And when that future becomes the present, you will be glad you did.

Kevin P. Gilmore serves as director of Pensions and Benefits USA for the Church of the Nazarene.