Money and The American Dream
- Thursday, May 13, 2010
Learning to manage money wisely is an essential skill in discipleship, because it directly impacts your relationship with God. We are free to serve God and others fully only when we have put money in its proper place in our heart, mind and lives. One of the greatest rewards of our career counseling work has been watching Christian men and women find their callings within work and then make a successful transition into living them. Conversely, one of the most discouraging things is seeing clients hindered from living their calling by their dreams of wealth and material success, their poor money management or their excessive debt-or often, all three.
"Calling Catalysts" for Keeping Money in its Place
Money is powerful, easily becoming a god in our lives. It is not benign. We must work hard to keep money in its proper place in our lives. Here are two "calling catalysts" that can help ensure that money will not be a calling blocker for you:
- Develop an "attitude of gratitude" about the material and non-material blessings you already have in your life. Contentment is an antidote for greed. Make a list of all the blessings in your life, and add to it daily. Thank God for his rich provision for you and ask him to give you wisdom to distinguish between "needs" and "wants."
Let us heed the counsel of Timothy's words (they precede his warning about dangers of loving money): "But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that" (1 Timothy 6:6-8).
- Practice biblical stewardship of your money. We cannot overstate the importance of managing your money well according to God's principles. Your money-all of it-belongs to God. He entrusts it to you to manage. Most of us will have more than a million dollars pass through our hands during our lifetimes and yet a high percentage of us will never learn how to manage that money. Your ability to discern and live your calling will be directly impacted by your ability to handle money.
If you are shackled by money problems or simply want to improve your financial management skills, Christian programs such as Financial Peace University (http://www.daveramsey.com/fpu/home/) or those offered by Crown Financial Ministries (http://www.crown.org) offer many types of resources for handling money in accordance with kingdom living. Money has the power to obstruct us in living our calling or to be used for God's purposes in our lives and the lives of others. The choice is ours.
A "Kingdom Vision" is Bigger than the American Dream
The American dream of prosperity and material accumulation is so pervasive in our culture and thinking that even those of us who profess to follow Jesus Christ seldom question its "rightness." Fresh out of school, we set out to acquire a well-paying job, a nice car and eventually a house and lifestyle with all the trimmings. Unthinkingly, we seek to emulate our society instead of Jesus.
Followers of Jesus Christ need to develop a "kingdom vision" for life, which is infinitely more fulfilling and exciting than a life spent accumulating stuff and "green pieces of paper with pictures of dead presidents on them." In their book Living on Purpose, Christine and Tom Sine encourage us that we will find the best that God has for us not by pursuing happiness but by losing our lives in service to God and others. Then and only then can we discover the rich, satisfying life that God intends for us....
[The good life of God] begins with our willingness to lose our lives in a vision that calls us beyond ourselves, seeking first the purposes of God's kingdom in response to the urgent needs in our world.... Jesus' call to whole-life discipleship was clear. He didn't invite his disciples to a private pietism they could work in around the edges of lives largely shaped by the dominant culture....The call to follow Christ was an invitation to a whole-life faith that was profoundly countercultural both then and now.
A right relationship with money is possible only when we have a right relationship with
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