“Building Up the Body: Worker-to-Worker” is a series of church worker wellness devotions. Visit lcms.org/wellness for more resources.

By Sue Matzke, pastor’s wife and Stephen’s Ministry leader

For richer or poorer

“I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me.” (Phil. 4:12–13)

Family finances were very tight for my husband and me during our first year of marriage, which was also the beginning of his pastoral ministry.

On paper, we should have always been in the red, but, every single month, God provided a way to make ends meet.

We excelled at living cheaply — before Pinterest.

The next year, I got a full-time job, and we were doing better than fine. And that’s when the bickering started:

  • “Another purse?!” “Well, you got another ball cap last week!”
  • “Don’t you have a shirt that looks just like that?”
  • “Can’t you just borrow that CD from the library?”

We were supposed to be saving a large chunk of my salary for a house down payment.

After six months of a second full time paycheck, our savings account balance was pitiful.

It took time and effort to communicate well on this topic.

We stumbled upon the “monthly stipend” concept — we each got a set amount of spending money every month to use as we chose without any criticism from the other.

It looks a little like the childhood days of allowances.

Once the stipend money was gone, we had to wait until the next month before we could buy anything else.


We welcomed less criticism and needing to justify expenses into our marriage.

Our house savings grew and so did our contentment.

We are shortly entering our third decade of marriage, and we still do monthly stipends.

The amount has gone up and down over the years, but the marital peace it brings has remained the same.

Your financial solutions may look different, but working it out together is part of the process and the complement of marriage.

These small marriage victories echo 1 Tim. 6:6 in action:

“But godliness with contentment is great gain.”

Sue Matzke is a marathon walker, pastor’s wife, Stephen’s Ministry leader, and board member for Ministry in Mission, an LCMS Recognized Service Organization. She lives with her husband and teenage son in Ohio, where they are members of St. Mark’s Lutheran Church in Chesterland.

“Building Up the Body: Worker-to-Worker” devotions and prayers will be released Monday mornings on the LCMS Facebook and Twitter pages. Church Worker Wellness devotions will also be archived online.

LCMS church workers and their families are invited to offer encouragement to other workers and families by submitting a 500-word devotion for the Synod’s worker-to-worker wellness devotion series. Email questions and submissions to workerwellness@lcms.org.