How can a spirit of poverty be broken?

Straight Talk

The Question

How do you break the spirit of poverty in a family? It seems we have always struggled. There have been blessings at times but mostly struggle and debt.

– LB from Birmingham, Alabama

The Answer
Part 1: Roots of poverty
Part 2: Joining the natural and the spiritual

Roots of poverty (Part 1)

It’s good that you recognize that there is SOMETHING – in your case a spirit of poverty — holding you back from receiving God’s very best for you and your family. That means you can do something about it. People often don’t have a clue that something isn’t right within their family so negative patterns continue into succeeding generations.

In fact, when did your problem begin? Do you know? Do you remember struggle and debt in your family as a child? Did your parents remember it as children? If possible it is good to get to the root and determine how far back it goes. Why? Because if sin was involved it is easier to reverse through repentance than guessing at the cause.

Let’s establish the truth first. God is a God of blessing. Jesus said, “’I came that they might have life, and might have it abundantly.’” (John 10:10) Then John wrote in his third letter, “Beloved, I pray that in all respects you may prosper and be in good health, just as your soul prospers.” (3 John 2) It’s very hard to have abundant life or prosper in all respects when we are saddled with debt and worried about making it through each month. It’s hard to give to others when we have nothing to give. It’s difficult to do the work of God’s kingdom when we are constantly in survival mode.

I think that a spirit of poverty attaches to a family for two main reasons: sin or negative thought patterns. Let me give an example of each. Suppose your great-grandfather swindled someone out of money or goods a hundred years ago. If never repented of, his actions could have introduced a curse into your family line. The result might be what God spoke through Haggai the prophet: “And he who earns, earns wages to put into a purse with holes.” (Haggai 1:6)

What often follows this are bad thought patterns. Suppose in this same case, a generation passes and no one knows anymore what happened. All they know is that they can never get ahead and finances are always meager. Those family members begin to accept this situation as normal. The poverty thinking becomes entrenched in their brains and plays out in the way they handle money.

What can be done?

Joining the natural and the spiritual (Part 2)

I mentioned above establishing the truth of God’s Word as a first step. This can be done by searching scripture for those promises that focus on God’s will for provision and meditating on them until their roots go deep and become strong. It is from there that you can begin to declare that truth over your life and the life of your family.

However, if you do that and nothing more, it is unfortunately possible that nothing will change. You will also need to put feet to your knowledge. If sin opened the door to a spirit of poverty it needs to be confessed. Maybe it is not your sin but you can still repent on behalf on any family members who went before you. You can recommit yourself and your family to living holy lives in service to the Lord. That’s the spiritual component.

The natural component follows and it might be the hardest part. Habits and patterns must be reestablished in keeping with God’s Word. If poor money management skills have played a part in continued poverty they must be corrected. What about overspending and abuse of credit cards? That must be stopped. Poor work ethic? It must be changed.

Sometimes it is hard to see these things for yourself so don’t hesitate to get some help. Sitting down with an expert in family finances and budgeting can set you on the right road no matter how long things have gone on. Expect this to take some time so don’t get discouraged but stick with it. Once you have established new patterns you can pass them on as a legacy of blessing to your children and your children’s children. That will make all your hard work well worthwhile.