As a financial leader and champion of social justice, Reverend Cerita Battles symbolizes that growth and change is possible at any time in life. After 31 years of high-level executive financial work with some of the biggest names in finance like JPMorgan Chase and Wells Fargo Home Mortgage, Cerita was called to ministry. In October 2011, while balancing her full-time job, motherhood, and being a wife — she and God had a conversation that was sparked by a sermon given that Sunday, “Get in the Game.” Cerita explained, “When God calls you, you can either stand on the sidelines or get in the game.” Being a truly multi-dimensional female in power, Reverend Cerita is a leader inside the church helping guide souls while also guiding her team at work to success.
Outside of the office, Reverend Cerita spends her time mentoring and helping others understand that God does not care about your mistakes or who you were then or now — but rather who you are becoming. Cerita acknowledges that the labels set on us by others can wreak havoc on our ability to accept ourselves. “I now focus on listening to the voice of God and what He wants me to do; versus what others think I should be doing as a reverend,” Cerita explains when it comes to others second-guessing her position as a reverend. “God not only qualifies His call on your life; He also anoints, appoints, and equips you with everything that you need. God is just looking for someone who is willing – He provides the able. God wants us to do two things: serve Him and serve others,” said Cerita.
Through her work in finance and the church, Cerita finds that when you’ve understood that your sole purpose is to serve others and serve God — that’s when you begin to operate in your true calling. “For me, I define my role as an executive and as a reverend as marketplace ministry. Where your gift and your passion align, there you will always find your purpose,” said Cerita. In addition to the above, Reverend Cerita provided 5 key steps to maintaining financial wellness during times of uncertainty (pandemic):
As the head of Community & Affordable Lending at JPMorgan Chase, Cerita can be of service to communities that have been traditionally overlooked due to systemic racism and social injustice. She is responsible for the development, implementation, and execution of several community and affordable lending strategies focused on advancing Black and Hispanic homeownership across the full-economic spectrum while continuing to meet the homeownership needs of first-time homebuyers and low-to-moderate income households and communities. Reverend Cerita says, “We have the opportunity to not only do what is right, but to do what is necessary; which is to be courageous and stand up within the businesses we work for, and do what God expects us to do – serve the people.” Through her ministry teachings of “Financial Health & Wellness” and affordable lending, she is able to affordably assist minority customers and communities to reach homeownership and financial wealth.
Women’s Inflection Point (WIP) believes a key component to wealth-building strategies is to consider implementing biblical principles for finance. WIP’s initiative, Women Acquiring Assets, focuses on financial wellness and awareness, and these principles can be implemented to build a solid foundation. Below, Reverend Cerita provided 5 biblical principles for women to consider when seeking to create financial health and stability:
Step 1: Manage Your Debt
- Know Who & How Much You Owe.
- Pay Your Bills on Time.
- Decide Which Debts to Payoff First & Create a Plan to Pay Them Off.
Step 2: Create/Re-evaluate Your Budget
- Net Income – Expenses (Debts) = Disposable Income.
- Adjust based on the current environment.
Step 3: Continue Tithing
- The tithe is 10% of your gross/net income; however, if your debts do not enable you to give 10% – pay your debts – but be faithful to God and create consistency based on what you have – remember, Jesus served 5000 based on what the disciples had.
Step 4: Save, Save, Save
- A Simple Fact: The time to save money is when you have money.
- Create a Savings Expense – Savings is not optional – it’s a requirement.
Step 5: Invest/Retirement Contribution
- Take advantage of the current market conditions and invest in stock, real estate and/ or new money-making ventures.
- Leverage extra money during COVID to contribute more to 401K/retirement plans