I often find myself telling my 14 year old son that, some day, he will understand why I do the things I do/say the things I say/decide the things I decide (as a dad). And then, shortly after saying that to him, I have to remind myself that he just cannot understand these things at this point in his life. Even if he believes me (which is doubtful sometimes), there is something about experience that causes you to understand things in a whole new light.
I remember realizing this after becoming a pastor. Even during seminary, I knew that pastoral ministry was going to be hard and stressful at times. I knew the types of situations that would arise. I knew the difficult tasks and decisions that would have to be made. But having never actually experienced any of those things . . . I didn't really know any of it.
Making the transition from the secular workforce to pastoral ministry would have been hard enough on its own, but adding to our situation was the incredible financial stress my wife and I found ourselves under.
Instead of receiving $4,000/month in tax free income, we received only $3,388 - a $612/month shortfall - due to SECA.
Unfortunately, we had maxed out our budget when we had purchased our home. We bought near the end of the housing bubble of 2007, and while the home we ended up buying was the cheapest in our neighborhood and a complete fixer-upper, it was still ridiculously expensive. Our mortgage payment alone ate up over half of my monthly pay, and we could not cover all of our expenses on my income alone.
The only thing we could do to make ends meet was to begin dipping into our emergency savings, but that was only going to last us so long. We were sinking . . . fast.