Kenneth Schnell, Stewardship Ministries
Resource Specialist, Community of Christ Headquarters
Summary: How much is enough? The world’s culture will always be pulling you to higher levels of spending, but only you can know what resources you need to fulfill your unique, God-given calling.
Life is a journey—a series of unique experiences for every person who comes into the world. Even though each of our paths is like no other, we frequently intersect with other paths as our lives touch in meaningful ways.
Let’s say we decide to take a trip by car. Spend a moment to select your destination! You may have chosen from many destinations— short or long, by air or train, but you now have the one in your mind that will be our trip together. We pack our vehicle and set the course, and, after a prayer to God for guidance, we begin the trip.
If we drive all night and stop only to refuel and grab food, we can get there sooner, but we would miss so much along the way. So we choose to make the most of every day, whether we are in the hot plains or the majestic mountains or along the ocean’s coast. We will visit with people (especially the children and the aged), watch for animals, admire the beauty of the flowers and be in awe of the sunsets. In the end, it would be a wonderful trip, primarily because we would not always be on the highway, and all we packed was the “stuff” we really needed.
What about your life’s journey? Is your destination clear? What path has God been calling you to take? What are those little and big decisions that aligned your course with God’s divine purpose for you? Maybe some are still pending. Take a moment to ponder that.
Rules for the road
On your journey, you might adopt some “rules or values for living” that will help with those day-to-day decisions, just as you have determined to honor the traffic signs along the road. Following these signs helps to reduce anxiety and increase the consistency of your discipleship. What would you put on your list of rules? It might include, I will:
§Not wish to be somewhere else today, but anticipate that I could be somewhere else tomorrow.
§Begin right now to share something, save something and spend the balance wisely.
§Have a sufficient emergency fund to reduce stress, avoid debt and be able to share as opportunities arise.
§Use only enough of God’s resources to fulfill my purpose so I can share the rest.
§Freeze my expenses at “enough,” but not my income, if I have the potential to generate more resources to share.
§Be reminded that my excesses were created to help meet another’s need.
§Watch for the signs and evidence of Jesus next to and in front of me.
§Sense when “good enough” really is good enough. More expensive, more bells and whistles, is just not necessary.
§Live a life of contentment that will also include a bit of spontaneity.
How much really is enough? The world’s culture will always be pulling you to higher levels of spending, but only you can know what resources you need to fulfill your unique, God-given calling. Of course, you also know that others around you are trying to deal with similar things. Here we can learn from the Israelites, as they were gathering manna according to their need— some more, some less, but all had enough (Ex 16:18).
Remember our role as stewards. As Jesus’ disciples, we will serve best if we are flexible and pliable. God can use us most effectively if we are open and willing to respond to the many options He might choose for us. It may be the time for us to stay and grow where we have been planted, or God may need to transplant us and have us move on.
But sometimes on our journey, it is just best to stop. We marvel at the beauty of the landscape, take a deep breath of fresh air or lay outside at night and just look at the stars—and wait. We anticipate an advent experience and contemplate what might come next.
God wants us to have the same attitude about our life’s journey as Paul did when he said, “I have learned to be content with whatever I have. I know what it is to have little, and I know what it is to have plenty. In any and all circumstances I have learned the secret of being well fed and of going hungry, of having plenty and of being in need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me” (Php 4:11-13).
Once we realize we cannot have it all, nor do we need it all, it is such a freeing blessing to be able to say, “No!” Being content is not about having more things. For “whoever loves money never has money enough; whoever loves wealth is never satisfied with his income. This too is meaningless” (Ec 5:10). Now every “yes” will fit. You have enough and you are in control of your stewardship. God always knows your measure.
But when is enough, not enough? When we stop before our journey is complete, before we reach our potential. It is when we are satisfied—closed to growth—willing to stay in the comfort, ease and security of the oasis, regardless of our stage of life.
The fruit of good choices
So, as Christ’s disciple, created with a unique purpose, gifted and blessed with potential and abundant resources, what might you do? You can be and become you by focusing on the life and ministry of Jesus, rather than “keeping up with the Joneses.” You can define your needs, based on your life’s purpose, not by the pressure of culture that assumes your needs and wants will automatically increase with your income. Know that you have the power to say, “No.” And minimize stuff, so you will have more time and funds to share.
Take stock of your “tool box”—your time, energy, money, giftedness, relationships, possessions and connection to God. Are each of these aligned with the purpose and goals of your life?
Contentment is the fruit of good choices—the big ones, and the countless daily ones that add up to the opportunities and experiences of a life’s journey. As you struggle with these daily decisions, keep this prayer in mind: “God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and wisdom to know the difference.”—Reinhold Niebuhr.
Perhaps the real moment of contentment comes when we hear the words: “Well done, thou good and faithful servant. I called you to be and to become. You achieved your potential. When your path intersected with those in need, you responded with care and love as you knew Jesus would have done.”
Journey now in peace and determination. Make today a very meaningful event. And “know that God is able to provide you with every blessing in abundance, so that by always having enough of everything, you may share abundantly in every good work” (2Cor 9:8).