You probably don’t need it and it won’t make you happy anyway . . . trust me – Spring Issue 2009

From the moment that I turn my radio on in the morning I am at war. Sometimes I don’t remember that I’m in the middle of a battle, but that does not alter the facts.

What am I warring against, you might ask? t’s a fight between two contrary worldviews.

The first is the cultural notion, with which we are bombarded day and night, that we must work hard to earn enough money in order to gather as many “things” as possible – because this is the key that will make us happy.

This mindset has been woven into the fabric of North American culture. Let me share a recent example from my own life …

I was running errands close to home when I drove past a store with a huge “50% Off Everything – Sale On Now” sign in the window. So I did what anyone would have done . . . I turned the car around, pulled into the parking lot and went shopping. I came out sometime later with my purchases in hand. I was very excited about my new clothes! I should add that these were not purchases that I had planned to make or clothes that I needed – but with the “sale” sign reflecting in my eyes I did not think about this at the time. I was so excited in fact, that I drove over to my sister’s home and tried everything on for her.

A few weeks have passed since that time and these clothes have worked their way into my closet. I hardly think about them as I get dressed in the morning and they certainly don’t invoke the same happiness and joy that I experienced in that moment when I first bought these items. Is it possible that I’ve been conditioned, like Pavlov’s salivating dog, or perhaps a better correlation would be that I’ve bought into the idea that buying, in and of itself, will make me happy? I know – when I pause to stop and think, of course, that it won’t – it will only leave me wanting more – waiting for my next “fix” and then leaving me empty again.

In contrast, the second worldview is one that is determined by our desire to honour God with our lives – which also includes our spending habits.

When I pause to reflect, all of the happiest and most memorable moments of my life have involved people, not the acquisition of “things.” These truly happy moments were also related to “giving” and did not involve “getting”, “buying” or “receiving” anything.

So, why is it so hard to remember what will truly make me happy – long term? Why do I keep struggling between these diametrically opposed worldviews? Well, a bit of it has to do with great marketing; and, if I’m honest, some of it involves my own selfishness – putting myself and my desires before the needs of others; but I think mostly it has to do with purpose – specifically, forgetting who I’m called to be – and whose character I should be reflecting.

The Free Methodist Church in Canada recently adopted a new core value – generosity. I believe that contemplating the statements associated with generosity is a great way for me to reflect on the ways God wants to partner with me to practically meet needs and effect change.

If you have not had a chance to read it yet, here it is: God is generous to all. Becoming more like Him, we extend God’s love through generosity to others. Generosity is grace-enabled as we trust God in all circumstances. Generosity is a source of joy and blessing as we join God in His ministry. Generosity glorifies God.

I read somewhere once that “a goal without a plan is just a wish.” I believe it’s true and with this in mind, I am determined to focus on my goal of living generously and charting out a course (a plan) to get there. Following Christ’s example of generous living will bring real joy, happiness and fulfilment.

The articles in this MOSAIC contain some great strategies and tips on how to best manage personal and church finances in order to help us reach this goal. I hope you take some time to read them.

Lisa Howden
Managing Editor