Thursday, February 21, 2008

In order to live a generous life, I must maintain spiritual focus and economic discipline

HOW CAN I GIVE? I desire to give as generously as possible in support of valid compassionate care and invest in legitimate Christian mission efforts. But we live on a modest income with four children. Even so, I realize that my ability to freely and joyfully respond to critical needs or contribute strategically for development requires both spiritual focus and economic discipline.

SPIRITUAL FOCUS & ECONOMIC DISCIPLINE. I am convinced that I simply cannot contribute in the manner I know is possible if I live as an American consumer, following the messages, norms, values, choices and habits that are commonly practiced all around me. To move beyond living as a mere consumer and to live as a creative steward requires, first, a vigilant focus on transcendent "first things first" values and purposes. Second, it requires economic discipline.

STARK CONTRASTS, DIFFERENT TRAJECTORIES. The difference between living as an American consumer and a creative steward cannot be underestimated. I make the following contrasts for the sake of keeping my mind, heart, and actions clear in regard to spiritual focus and economic discipline.

AMERICAN CONSUMER (messages I must repeatedly reject)
I am a consumer
I earned it; it is mine
Live on 100% of my income
Give me what I want, desire
Measure by what others get/have/do
I spend my income...and then some (credit-card living)
I live for the marketplace (defined by economic value)
Give me the lowest price--whatever it costs
I'll contribute whenever I feel like it

CREATIVE STEWARD (concepts I must repeatedly affirm)
I am a steward
God gave it, it’s God’s
Live on less than 90% of income -- 10% is tithed
I'll purchased based on what is responsible, necessary, beneficial
Measure by what I do with what I’ve been given
I steward resources with caring balance and margin (reject credit-card living)
I value fair global marketing--even if it costs us more
I’ll invest strategically in compassion & development

Photo: Called "the Springdale Tree," this great old oak graces the Near Eastside of Indianapolis along Brookside Drive South in the Springdale neighborhood area

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