Learn to wait and enjoy.  Although advertisers tell you that you need instant gratification to enjoy life, you'll actually appreciate what you have much more - and therefore enjoy it more - when you learn to wait for some of what you want.  Pray for patience. 

Turn off screens so you can experience more of real life.  Cut back on some of the time you devote to sitting in front of some kind of screen - a computer screen, a TV screen, a phone screen, or some other kind of shallow experience - so you won't miss out on the joys of real life.  Instead of using a mountain screen saver on your computer, take a real hike in some hills.  Rather than just playing music, sing a song or play an instrument yourself.  Instead of competing in a video sports game, get outside to a park with real people and play a real game. 

Make sure that money isn't an idol for you.  Money may be an idol in your life if: you become unhappy when you lose money, you envy the possessions or lifestyle of others, you worry about being poor, you measure people's worth by their income or appearance, or you evaluate most decisions in financial terms.  Make whatever sacrifices you need to make to put money in its proper place - far behind God in your life.  Devote more time and energy to building your relationship with God than you do to building your bank accounts.  Manage your money so it doesn't manage you.  Create a budget and stick to it.  Pay off debts and avoid incurring new ones.  Downsize your possessions - from your home and car, to your clothes and gadgets - so you don't own more than you truly need. 

Open your hands.  Consumerism pressures you to focus on what you can get, but God calls you to focus on what you can give - because giving is a core part of who God is, and by learning to give, you can grow to become more like Him.  Remember God's ultimate gift of salvation through Jesus' sacrifice on the Cross, and let your gratitude for His generosity motivate you to be generous by saying "yes" when He calls you to give.  Seek adventures in giving that will help you grow in profound ways, such as making large financial sacrifices to support a certain charity project, fostering a child who needs a home, or donating a kidney or bone marrow to someone who needs a transplant.  The more you give, the more God will give to you in spiritual blessings.  Then you'll discover that you've matured so much that consumerism no longer has power over you.  Remember that your present wealth can't last, but wealth in God's kingdom can't stop flowing - forever. 

Adapted from Consumer Detox: Less Stuff, More Life, copyright 2010 by Mark Powley.  Published by Zondervan, Grand Rapids, Mich., www.zondervan.com
Reverend Mark Powley is an associate pastor and has spoken and written articles on topics of interest to the emergent generation.  He has a BA from the University of Nottingham and a Certificate for Theology Graduates from the University of Oxford.  He lives with his wife and three sons in Hammersmith, United Kingdom.

Publication date: December 17, 2010