rebelling against low expectations

3 Truths for The Teenager Worried About Money

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How do I pay for Christmas gifts?

How do I pay for gas?

How will I support myself when I graduate?

What job should I get?

Have I saved enough for college?

Should I take out student loans?

Is my budget realistic?

What will happen if I accidentally mess up my taxes?

We have endless questions (and fears) about finances.

I was terrified as I prepared to move out and support myself for the first time. My one comfort was that all I really needed was enough money for a tank of gas back to my parents’ house if everything failed.

Maybe that is where you are right now. Maybe you’re contemplating college, you’re entering the workforce, or you’re moving out. Or perhaps you’re buying your first car, needing to pay your phone bill, or wanting to get your mom a birthday gift.

And you’re worried.

If this is you, today I want to share three truths to keep at the forefront of your mind as you wade through the daunting sea of finances.

1. Comparison isn’t Fair.

When I was fifteen, I was sick with a chronic illness that threatened to take my life. At the same time, my younger brother was starting a business that would make him hundreds of thousands of dollars—a business that has thrived, blessed people, and supports him and his now-wife. A business that has enabled him to start additional businesses, buy vehicles, and go on vacations.

My brother works hard and has been successful in every way possible. Meanwhile, far from making money, my health was draining money. Instead of graduating early and getting scholarships, I was relearning how to talk and walk.

Years later, I still struggle with comparing myself to my brother and his success—especially his financial success. But God has called us to different lifestyles and goals. He is using us in very different—but equally incredible—ways. Ways that ought not be compared.

Comparison is not fair for two reasons:

· Each person comes from somewhere different. Everyone comes from a different background, different experiences, with different skills and capacities. Comparison just isn’t logical.

· Each person is going somewhere different. In order to love and serve people in the ways my brother and I are meant to, we need different resources and lifestyles. While my brother has strengths I don’t, I have strengths he doesn’t. God made us each so differently for His glory, and that’s a good thing.

In John 21:21-22, Peter compared himself with another disciple, “When Peter saw him, he said to Jesus, ‘Lord, what about this man?’ Jesus said to him, ‘If it is My will that he remain until I come, what is that to you? You follow Me!’”

Rather than passing judgment or dwelling in jealousy, may personal obedience be our focus. May we resist the temptation to compare ourselves to others, and instead follow Christ’s example of living for God’s glory.

2. You’re Not in Control

I pray for patience. I pray for joy. But with finances, my tendency is to try to pull myself up by my own bootstraps. If there is a problem, I start listing solutions for how I can fix it.

But it doesn’t work because I’m not in control. My plans depend on my ability, and my ability is woefully lacking and inconsistent. So where does that leave us?

“The heart of man plans his way, but the LORD establishes his steps.” – Proverb 16:9

It’s terrifying to not be in control—until you realize Who is in control. When you realize that a God who loves you is also all-powerful, lack of control is freeing and relieving. Make your plans, but ultimately, trust that our sovereign God will establish your steps.

3. God’s Name is “Provider”

This isn’t the prosperity gospel. God’s people are also promised suffering. The reason I know that God provides is because I’ve been in want.

Proverb 37:25 says, “I have been young, and now am old, yet I have not seen the righteous forsaken or His children begging for bread.” But the Bible goes even further and gives God the name of “Jehovah-Jireh” which means “Provider” (Genesis 22).

Providing is not just something God does; it is His very nature. He doesn’t often do it in the ways we’d expect or want, and every single financial hurdle over the past few years required me to trust and obey when I didn’t understand how it was going to work out. But time and again, God has shown Himself to be what scripture proclaims Him to be—a faithful Provider.

How God Has Used Finances to Grow My Faith

Earlier, I talked about my fear when I moved out for the first time. Life didn’t get any stabler. But I saw God provide in amazing ways. Let me tell you about my last two years.

I moved to Southern California (as we know, definitely the cheapest place to start out). In a panic, I called the first restaurant that showed up on my Google search.

“What do you want to order?” they asked.

“Um, are you hiring?” The worst they could say was “no”, right?

“You can start Sunday.”

“I can’t start Sunday, I’m in Arizona!”

With no interview, we chose a start date, and I packed even though I also had no place to live, and no idea what I was getting into. But within a week, God had provided a room with a kind family.

As I began my time in California, I also began my applications with overseas organizations. Which meant fundraising—yet another financial hurdle I needed God for. He provided perfectly down to the dollar for me to spend six months serving overseas. And He provided in the perfect timing.

Then it was back to California, with yet again, no place to live and no way to pay for it. However, with this move the fear was gone. I had seen God provide and while I didn’t know how it would happen, I knew that moving back was my next step of obedience.

What is your step of obedience right now?

Again, within a week, God provided both a place to live, with people I’d never met before, and the means to afford it. I texted a friend, “I wonder how many times I’ll watch God do this before I have the faith to stop worrying.”

My boyfriend proposed on a windy beach bluff and now we had three months to find—you guessed it—a place to live and a way to pay for it. Peter didn’t have a job and he turned over every stone he could possibly find. The fear (and nausea) rose again, but on my knees, it melted away.

I gave my fiancé a date that he needed to have a job by before the wedding or else we couldn’t afford things.

That date came and went.

Looking back, God knew what He was doing: growing our faith. Then, about two weeks before the wedding, God provided a place to live and a job for my fiancé (in that order).

Finances are Big…God is Bigger

Finances are big and scary. But to quote Veggie Tales, “God is bigger than the boogie man.”

As you face finances, I hope you will join me in remembering that Christ never called you to compare but to follow Him, that God is in control of everything (even your finances), and He is the Provider we can rely on.


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About the author

Sara Willoughby

is the 20-year-old author of He's Making Diamonds: A Teen's Thoughts on Faith Through Chronic Illness. She loves to read, write, and have adventures, be it off to Narnia one more time, wading through mud chasing the family dog, or playing a new board game with her two younger siblings. Sara is also a Lymie, TCK, and Bright Lights leader. You can find her at sgwilloughby.com

25 comments

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  • This idea of obedience through faith in relation to financial fear has been something I’ve been wrestling with for months now. This article really helped me to remember yet again to turn to God in it all.

  • Thanks for writing this! It’s definitely hard to not be envious and compare with others. This was a great quote, “ Providing is not just something God does; it is His very nature.” Thanks Sara!

    • Thanks for sharing, Summer! Something I’ve been asking myself lately is “What are God’s expectations of me?” It is so easy to get focused on other’s expectations or even my own plans and be discontent and frustrated. But if we are obeying God, we can be satisfied that we are “succeeding”.

  • Wow, this was such an amazing article (and your personal story added so much depth). I think that this is something that many, many teens think about – myself included – and I loved all your points. Thank you for writing this!

  • Wow, I really needed this. I am a writer, and as I get more serious about this, I realize how expensive it is to go to conferences and get taught from good people. It gives me such peace to know that God has a perfect plan, and I don’t need to worry. Thanks for this!

    • Adalynn, I relate! As a writer myself, I know how hard it can be to choose a route that isn’t “traditional”. It’s easy to trust God with our dreams, but it’s something else to trust Him with our dreams when it comes to tangibley large numbers. However, in my writing journey, God has also provided exactly what I needed at the right time: mentors, encouragement, resources, and finances. But as I think over my journey, it has been step by step. He didn’t give me everything immediately, but in the time I needed it . . . and also once I had learned the skills to manage it. Whether that was classes, mentoring, money, or a platform/audience. Keep taking the next right step!

  • This definitely spoke to me a lot since I struggle with this all the time! Thank you so much for this encouraging post!

  • This article on truths for teenagers worried about money is so relatable and reassuring. It’s important for young adults to have a healthy perspective on finances, and these truths offer valuable insights. Great advice for navigating financial concerns during the teenage years!

  • This is so encouraging to me heading off to college next year, at a school a little out of my price range. Thanks for sharing it! I especially love the point about taking that step of obedience, even when we don’t have all the answers about how God will provide.

    • Hi Leslie! That’s a big scary hard thing, and I’m glad this could encourage you! It can feel sometimes like wisdom and faith are two opposing things, but with God we can hold them hand in hand. Would love to hear someday how God provides for you in this season.

rebelling against low expectations

The Rebelution is a teenage rebellion against low expectations—a worldwide campaign to reject apathy, embrace responsibility, and do hard things. Learn More →