A Good Steward on a Tough Journey Programs Revive Our Hearts

Andrea Karsten: I absolutely believe that there are some biblical financial principles that we can turn to—ideally before a life-defining moment happens, that we’ve given it thought prior to that time. But then knowing that there is this very solid biblical plan backing us up, the journey doesn’t have to be one of chaos and upheaval. Instead, it can be a process, a well-thought-out time period.

Karen Melby was left a widow when her husband went to be with the Lord in 2016 after a battle with leukemia. Lisa Hagenauer is an estate planning and probate attorney in Grand Rapids, Michigan. And Andrea Karsten is a financial advisor, also in Grand Rapids. Today they’re continuing a conversation with Nancy about the steps necessary to get your finances in better order.


The Lord knew, in eternity past, that this day was coming when it did, but we had no clue! And how thankful I am that my dad had had the wisdom, the foresight, the discipline, the determination to make preparation in many areas—spiritually, emotionally, family-wise, financially. His will, his financial areas that were in place and there was a team of people to help my mother navigate those hard things that followed in terms of what to do with his business, etc.

Andrea Karsten is with us. Andrea, you’re a financial advisor. You have two young people in your home: one grown and one almost out of the nest. Your husband’s a pastor. I love how you’re thinking about this whole area. It would be true about all of us, but you’re the one who has said, emphasized to us that this is not a matter of learning to think like Wall Street—not to dis Wall Street. But your burden is helping people think biblically and in a Christ-like way to start with—not just end-of-life stuff, but what you do with it while you have it now. There’s a stewardship involved.

Andrea: Right, the plan and the process. I absolutely believe that there are some biblical financial principles that we can turn to—ideally before a life-defining moment happens, that we’ve given it thought prior to that time. But then knowing that there is this very solid biblical plan backing us up, the journey doesn’t have to be one of chaos and upheaval. Instead, it can be a process, a well-thought-out time period.

Andrea: Absolutely, yes. And so we have to be cautious about debt. Part of that just comes from making sure you have kind of a spending plan . . . or another word for that is “budget.” You know, know how the money is flowing through the household. That means we have to be involved in those spending decisions: how it is or what it is we put on a credit card, or how much we’re spending at the grocery store, on clothes for the children, or on education.

Andrea: Yes, and we need capacity in that budget, absolutely, for future savings. Even before that, really, is this whole conversation about giving and giving generously and understanding truly that God does own it all! The peace of mind or the very different way of looking at this comes when we understand that we are stewards of His money, of His wealth.

Nancy: I know, Karen, you and Scott (I’ve known you for years) that’s always been your mindset. You weren’t as prepared in some practical areas as you wish you had been when the Lord took Scott home, but you and Scott were on the same page for sure when it came to, “This is not ours; we’re just stewards. We want to honor the Lord and glorify Him.” You wanted to be generous. You guys are givers. You wanted God to be pleased because He’s the one who has entrusted this to you.

So many people will spend what they perceive to be their normal bills, but they really don’t know, at the end of the month: What is that costing? What is coming in? What is going out? So it’s really important before you start any of this, if you’re single, to sit down, and make sure you have a good handle of your own plan. If you’re married, to sit down with your spouse and say, “Okay, what do we have? Where is it? How do we access it?”

Lisa: And one of his accounts, it was actually his email account, they would not close it, because we never were able to successfully access the account to close it. And so we could have gone to court to do it if we wanted to, but the strange thing is, now that account just sits out there and every once in awhile I will get a spam email from my dad.

I think a lot of us, when it comes to these practical areas of our finances, legal issues, these things, we didn’t get familiar with it when “the lights were on.” So then when the storm comes and the lights go out, we’re stumbling around and stubbing our toes and falling over things. This increases the tension and the intensity and the fear and the anxiety—especially for older people—because we didn’t take advantage of the opportunity while we were young and in our right minds.

I think I shared with the ladies a really funny story: When I went to law school, my dad had co-signed my loans. After I got out, he said, “Okay, we’re going to go to my local insurance guy and we’re going to get a life insurance policy on you because if something happens to you, I don’t want to be responsible for paying these debts back (because they were significant). I remember at twenty-five I think I would have been just thinking, Wow, that’s kind of cold! But it was so smart, and it made me think, Yes, he has helped me. My parents have helped me. I don’t want to leave them saddled with this if something happens to me. It really got me thinking, at a younger age, about the consequences and making sure you protect yourself and people, going forward.

You’ve listed some of the specific things about passwords and accounts and what kinds they are and how you pay your bills, etc. Then you’ve talked about discussing your estate plan objectives. What does that look like, what does that mean? Especially if you’re thinking, I’m probably a long way from dying. Who knows? How should we think about estate plan objectives?

Andrea: Yes, that’s a really good question. When I refer clients to an attorney, clients will often say, “Oh, I’m uncomfortable with that. I don’t know what I want to do yet.” And I would say, “No, when you go and see an estate-planning attorney, they know you don’t know, and they’re absolutely going to walk with you through that process.”

I didn’t even know who I needed. I didn’t know what that team looked like. But Brian, Scott’s friend, is a businessman and was able to help me facilitate that. But the team involves: a good friend who’s kind of your liaison, a financial planner, a good estate planning attorney, and then an investment person—which is what you need if you have life insurance.

Nancy: Okay, I’m watching the clock now, and I just realized, we got on a roll there, and there’s more we’re going to talk about, but we’re going to close this conversation for today. I hope that this is challenging you to think about what you need to do to honor the Lord with the resources He has entrusted to you—because that’s what it’s all about.

To help you think that through, we’re offering a free online resource to help you get started. It’s called My Legacy Planner, and you can get it at ReviveOurHearts.com. The planner will help you assess your personal situation and evaluate how giving to Revive Our Hearts or another ministry would affect your taxes and the amount left to your family. The My Legacy Planner is simple and easy to use. You’ll be done in ten minutes or less. Just go to ReviveOurHearts.com to use this free, confidential tool.