Number 8 on God’s Top 10 List: “Thou Shalt Not Steal”
So, once again, I read in the newspaper that a pastor of a church was convicted of a financial scam. Same old story – same old sad story. The pastor used his position of power, credibility, and influence to swindle money out of the members of his congregation. Good Lord. This is one I’ve never been able to understand. You would think a pastor, of all people, would know “where he might be going” for this type of bad behavior! Thank God, this sort of thing isn’t commonplace. There are far more wonderful, dedicated pastors, priests, rabbis, elders and clergymen (and women) than “bad apples.” However, as sad as it is to say, you need to look out for yourself, and take precautions, even when you attend your house of worship. Oh, and it’s not just the clergy or church employees. Other people (like members of the congregation who attend your church, temple, or whatever building, or setting, is a gathering place for your faith) can be equally guilty of perpetrating financial scams.
The real key to avoiding scams, and other bad financial arrangements, is to keep your guard up at all times. A lot of scams are based on getting someone to ignore, or forgo, normal precautions. Scammers will prey on your emotions, and trust, to get you to do something you wouldn’t normally do – like writing a check without first getting the proposed transaction in writing. If someone you meet at church has a legitimate business or financial opportunity for you, there should be no problem putting it in writing and giving you as much time as you need to verify its legitimacy. In fact, the person should be most patient with you, especially if he/she is your “brother” or “sister” in faith. Right? Right.
One more point on this . . . When I’m at church, I’m “just David.” I’ve helped people all week with their finances; I don’t go to church to add hours to my work-week! I’m there to be replenished, not to introduce myself to everyone and solicit them to do business with me. (Yuck; who does that!?) Be on guard for people “posing” as helpers and volunteers. Sometimes they can be hard to identify – until they make their pitch. If you remain vigilant and prepared to say “No” . . . You’ll PlanStronger™ !