I have the grant assessment from the Diocese now.

I would not be able to train full-time if I didn’t get a grant and I am grateful for this life-line. Rent is paid, I’m fed by college 5 days a week in term time, and there’s money to spend on top. Except it’s quite a small amount. From the budget sheet I think it’s a bit less than £400 a month for everything else. Seems fine till you chip away at it with the regular outgoings… Having been over my head in debt in the past I am very keen not to have to resort to credit cards and overdraft for everyday things.

It has been suggested I set up a stewardship account and allow friends to contribute towards books, gin, and fun. I feel terribly guilty about this.

I have had two years to prepare. If I had handled my finances better years ago, I could have saved more. If I had not met friends in the pub or gone away for weekends I could have saved more. If I had not given money away to charities I could have saved more. If I had not moved jobs & taken a pay cut I could have saved more. Instead I was paying off credit cards (down to about £975 now, which is quietly sitting on a 30-month 0% card), happily drinking beer and generally having a social life. I have, in the last year, created a Running Away Fund For Dire Emergencies – but it is sacrosanct. And there is cash stashed for a new pair of glasses, contact lenses, running shoes, some new clothes before I go, plus Greenbelt, living costs when I stop working, etc. But still – two and a bit pay cheques left – yikes. My ability to buy a new laptop depends on how much deposit I get back when I leave the flat, for example.

So essentially a stewardship account feels like me saying ‘I squandered the last two years salary, and mishandled finances before that, now please bail me out.’ When we all have demands on our finances why should it be me that benefits? I honestly don’t feel worthy of that. I am grateful for what I will receive, and although I’m frustrated at some of the Diocesan rules, I don’t have a great sense of entitlement. I do have a fierce sense of independence. Ask my Mum how long it took to persuade me to accept her offer of a significant percentage towards a possible holiday. And the vicar will tell you that I originally turned down the pilgrimage last year.

What I’m hearing from friends though is that they want to help.That it’s OK to say ‘this is going to be hard, will you help with the things that will help?’ because friends want to be part of the journey. And despite my fierce independence and dislike of being the sponger I was prepared to accept the odd bottle of gin or a loan of books – I’d joked about getting £3 a month sponsorship for gin purposes. Just had never thought about more.

It’s just hard, OK? What is it OK to spend other people’s money on? I hate wearing glasses, so is it OK to spend your money on my vanity? Is it OK to spend your money on my books? I’m tired and need to see a friend, is it OK to spend your money on train fare to London?

I may not appear gracious about the offer of financial support, and I hope this blog explains why. I am genuinely overwhelmed by the friends lining up to start this journey with me. The fastest way to make me cry is to remind me that I am loved. So, thank you.


  1. This is with several years hindsight. I think I may have told you, but when we first moved into circuit we were still paying a mortgage on a house that wasn’t selling and gone from a considerable salary to a ministers salary in one fell swoop. We too could have been accused of squandering what we’d had and not saving responsibly, but you live how you live and sometimes the call to ministry comes from nowhere and totally outside the expectations you had been living with.

    When we did sell our house it was in considerable negative equity. We were left with little to live on and two young children. Somehow people worked this out. Money for a holiday they recognised we needed as a family ‘appeared’ through the door, and someone else took it upon themselves to find some people to ‘sponsor’ us for a year. That was a considerable act of generosity on their part. It took a swallowing of pride on our part. But it also showed our vulnerability, and in doing so ‘let people in’ to our lives, my ministry and a shared life together.

    I also do not underestimate the power of allowing someone to give to you, and the blessings that gives them, as well as allowing them to share in your ministry. Not everyone is called to ordained ministry, but some are called to support it – in many different ways, some of which may be financial if that is what is needed.

    So yer daft apeth, let people love you, support you, and be a part of your ministry 🙂

  2. If they give it to you its your money, not theirs. You spend it on what you need to stay alive, sane, happy. That’s why it’s given. You don’t account for every penny to your friends. Now go & sort that account out. Xxx

  3. When I was a poorish graduate student, people often bought me drinks when we went to the pub because they were better off. Thus when I’ve been earning and out drinking with a student, I’ve bought them drinks to carry this on. Unfortunately geography will preclude me being in the pub with you on the whole (though not entirely as I do visit that place still), so being able to buy you a drink remotely would be good as part of paying the debt I owe for being helped myself.

  4. You have not squandered anything: you lived a full and rich life, and which you worked hard to earn. You cannot live every day thinking that you shouldn’t do things in case something is different in the future. Things *will* be different in the future, but we have only limited control over that. You live your life in the way that works best at that time, not for how it might be when you look back at it.
    What we your friends want, is for you to continue to be able to live in a way that makes you feel whole. Yes, you feel more like you when you look like you – contacts aren’t vanity, they’re “you”. You need books? Of course you do – you need to have a well rounded life and experiences within it, which includes books and leisure pursuits. You want to visit a friend? Of course you do – you’re human, and you need friendships to nurture you too, as you do for others. What is it acceptable to spend money on? You!
    If we could give you the things that we knew you needed, when we knew you needed them, then we would. But we can’t do that, so we’d happily give you the money to get yourself the things that only you know that you need, when you feel you need them. It’s money given willingly, with love, and in the hope that you’ll use it to treat you as well as we want you to be treated.

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