Stories Over Stuff: Scott and Nancy McCloskey
by Dale Reeves
Yesterday at Christ’s Church we began a new teaching series called “S.O.S.: Stories Over Stuff.” Everyone gets the chance to live a life that is either characterized by amassing all kinds of stuff that we can’t take with us into eternity, or gathering and sharing stories of a life well lived—one that influences others for a cause that reaches into eternity. Sometimes along the way mistakes are made, including bad financial decisions, and when that happens, often we need a life preserver thrown out to us. At times people feel as though they are drowning in debt and they don’t see a way out. Today I want to share a story of hope from a couple who have recently experienced some financial freedom. May their story inspire you.
Scott and Nancy McCloskey didn’t grow up in churchgoing families. But their parents instilled in them an appreciation for valuing important “stuff” in life, and an attitude of not being afraid to work hard. After they were married they attended a Methodist church in Columbus, Ohio, but when they moved to this area they checked out a few churches before getting connected to Christ’s Church seven years ago. It was really important to them to be an integral part of a church community where they lived.
Scott remarks, “We are not the smartest financial wizards, but we were doing a lot of the right things like saving for our kids’ college, saving for retirement, paying off our bills, paying off credit card charges each month. The only debt we had was our mortgage and car payment. We were doing what our parents had told us to do the best we could—save money at an early age so that it becomes a habit and part of our financial process.”
But, Nancy says, there was a problem. “We made some bad financial decisions because we didn’t have a plan. We were just kind of winging it. If you don’t have a plan, you don’t know what the goal is.”
Scott adds, “Sometimes people who look like they are doing really well in life are actually in major debt with credit card balances. You just never know. We were trying to live within our means. We knew we needed to have a basic plan, but sometimes things are fluid and they can change, and you have to readjust as necessary.”
For Scott and Nancy a lifeline that really helped them came in the form of Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University, that is offered at Christ’s Church several times a year. They decided to take the course together, and reaped some immediate benefits from what they learned. Scott explains, “Financial Peace University helped us with new tools and viewpoints about money. It improved our budgeting skills by better tracking our money and using the snowball effect. It reemphasized what you need in life and what you don’t need. For instance, we don’t need to buy a new car every three or four years. Budgeting is not a penalizing mechanism. It’s a planning tool that is cool when it works out. If you follow it, your anxiety and stress will start to reduce.”
Nancy offers, “I wanted to worry less about money, and we wanted to figure out how we could give back more to the community. We are in a much better spot than we were a year ago.”
Scott agrees, and states that taking the Dave Ramsey course helped them communicate better as a couple. And he believes that FPU is not just for couples, but for single adults as well. He and Nancy have talked with their son and niece about it as well as with other friends and family members. Scott summarizes, “We wanted to make sure that we were in charge of our money rather than our money being in charge of us.”
One of Scott’s favorite Bible verses is Hebrews 13:16, “And do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased” (NIV). He says, “Jesus served others. That’s what he is about. We want to be like Jesus. We should serve others to please God, not to get accolades or gold stars. Following a financial plan allows you to put yourself in a better financial position so that you can pay your bills, tithe, and donate to others. The sooner you start on this path, the better off you will be. Not only can you give financially to the church, but you can give back to the community by giving your time.”
One of the ways that Scott gives of his time to others is through being a boy scout leader. He invests quite a bit of time in this pursuit but says that the reward is in watching them learn and grow into young men. This past year, he led the guys in his pack through a faith journey as a part of their scouting education, inviting several members of our church pastoral staff to come and share with the young men. When I had the opportunity to spend some time with the boys at one of their meetings, I was impressed with the development that I saw.
Scott and Nancy view this aspect of their marriage—making sound financial decisions so that they can support the work of the church and give back to their community—as an integral part of their faith journey. With the apostle Paul, they can testify to the truth of these words, “And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:19, NIV).