I think people are sometimes more afraid to talk about money than they are about anything else. It's like the word gets choked out like it's going to hurt us or sort of whispered like it's a dirty word or chanted like it's some magical key to the universe.
Breaking news: Money is just a thing. It has no power, no purpose, no real value, no impact except what we give it. So we can both stop fearing it and stop serving it because we kind of made it up in the first place. It'll always be there, always be important in the way our culture works. There will always be more of it to be gotten, we can always spend it all, lose it, gain it, but what we absolutely can't do if we want to thrive is FEAR it.
I see people do this in a few ways. There's a fear of not having enough money and always wanting more. There are the old ways we think about money. Scrooge McDuck swimming in gold coins and counting them every day. (Hi, '80's kids!) We're afraid that it will own us. We'll be slaves to materialism and consumerism. We'll become obsessed with bigger houses, faster cars, and trust accounts. We'll throw a mink around our necks and scoff at those in need having to always have more than the person next to us. We'll spend like there's no tomorrow or hoard and become misers. Success and the pursuit of more will become our god. I honestly see very little of this in the real life people around me. Our generation has seen the futile nature of that, watched enough reality TV to know it doesn't buy happiness, and truly has a desire to do what has more value and purpose. We see this behavior as unhealthy. You aren't going to get some money and overnight become a greedy miser.
Money is a magnifier. Whatever is already in your heart, already owning you, already ruling your fears, and your purpose, and your time when you only have a little…you'll just do more of that with your money when there's more of it. Whatever you're afraid of will still be scary. It's that simple. The money is an object that can do nothing with itself. ALL the motive and value comes from your use of it. Money REVEALS us and that is what we are actually afraid of.
But I also see money feared in another way. We are becoming a more minimalist culture. We value generosity and simplicity. But we are getting a real pride complex around not having it. No debt, countless hours on the hunt of thrift buying, lack of ambition, purchasing the cheapest items and food even if they cost us our health, working away at the same job or staying in our circumstances because at least it's safe and steady and has no risk and there will be just enough which is probably all people like us will ever have. Waiting and waiting to do anything that matters or that we long to enjoy and do until there's more of it. Man, that sure makes me want to jump up and down with excitement and possibility for changing the world, right?
If we're not careful, we are suddenly serving the LACK of money. We judge others harshly who have or spend more knowing nothing about what they give and who they provide for. We miss opportunities at every turn because ALL of our financial ducks have to be in a row before we take any step of faith. So whose provision are we trusting in again? It doesn't matter if it's our little nest egg or Scrooge's towers if our faith is in our accumulation of a certain amount. It can fly away. If we are using our time and energy which can't be replaced to worry or serve or protect money which can be replaced, we need to reevaluate. We need to ask what our money can do for God, for others, for us. WE matter.
Once you can see the healing, beautiful opportunities that can happen in your life and in someone else's life because of the open doors of money, you'll realize there's nothing yucky or dirty word about it. Money is a beautiful, God-given, expensive oil to pour on the feet of the Master. And I'm going to tell you, it feels ridiculously good to give my last mite to Him. To work hard not knowing what the outcome is going to be but believing if we faithfully do one more hard thing, put one more foot in front of the other with purpose and intention, we will see results. And it also feels ridiculously good to take the talents He's given us, double them, quadruple them, and when He checks in to be able to say, "I knew You would expect me to SHOW UP and turn this into more because You made me for that, so here is as much as I could gather for You. Now where do you want me to use it? Who do I get to hire with this so she can stay home with her babies, or give this to so she can be rescued from slavery, or equip with this so they can start living out their callings and dream? How can this serve Your purposes?"
At the beginning of this whole thing I had small dreams. But I knew that the Lord would give us some opportunities to do great things. I wanted Him to make me a colander. I wanted to be full of holes so whatever He wanted to pour in would pour back out whether that was money or another resource. Then I boldly asked and believed that I had better get ready and make that colander strong and large because there was a lot coming in. I had NO IDEA. My big dreams were tiny. But at first that was just my time to teach one more class. My sacrifice to use part of my enrollment bonus to send a reference book. That was what I had to give and so I kept doing the next thing.
And now we keep having to make the holes bigger so more can pass through. And if tomorrow it all changed and we were right back to a few dollars to pass through, we would set to work and do it all again with excitement and purpose. Because there is simply nothing like watching that expansion, watching who is touched, watching there be so many options. There are rows and rows and rows of fields out there to be harvested by people who take their time, energy, and money, whatever they have, and then start showing up for each opportunity that comes knocking.
It's hard work. It's constant work. But it's possible work. Because you were given a whole set of tools in the way you were made to start with and develop into insane amounts of possibility. But there is the truth that if we bury the coins we were given to start with and hope they just don't get lost, if our goal is just to protect what we have, we will ultimately lose it, because its only value is in how it's used to expand and increase the people and possibilities that really matter. Our focus on how little we have completely blinds us to what can happen. Our focus on how much that little can become with faithful effort gives us sight beyond what seems physically possible.
Live NOW like the person you want to be when more money is there. Make the bold decisions, give generously, say yes to opportunity, walk in faith, work hard. Let it serve you and watch the impact.