You and I consume a lot; a lot more than we might think. How much is enough?
I don’t know the answer but I know it is a challenge.
We have a responsibility to steward our ability to earn. We should probably look to earn and make as much money as we possibly can; provided we are doing that which we feel God has called us to do and are not exploiting or earning in an unethical manner, that oppresses others while profiting ourselves.
From here though we have a responsibility to steward every dollar we earn. I allocate my finances into 5 categories.
Category 1 – Taxes and Tithes
Firstly I pay taxes and tithes out of my earnings and I’m comfortable with this.
Category 2 – Blessing / Giving
Second I give away a set minimum percentage of my earnings. Offerings, causes, charities, sponsor kids, church building program, etc, etc.
Category 3 – Investment
Thirdly I put some money aside with the intention of that money somehow helping me to generate more money in the future.
Category 4 – Dreams
Fourthly I put some money aside to pay for dreams that I have, holidays, new golf clubs, an old Holden etc. (Please note with the amount of money currently allocated here, of the dreams I have, buying a new driver at the end of 2011 will be the only one that comes to fruition).
Category 5 – Expenses
Fifthly and lastly I pay for life, the living expenses of life in the 21st Century Western World.
I know that if I want to increase what I allocate to categories 2, 3, and 4, I have to decrease my living expenses and/or increase my earnings. No problem here.
My dilemmas at the moment.
Even if I didn’t want to increase my allocation of funds to categories 2, 3, and 4; what is an acceptable and what is an unacceptable expense in category 5? How many nights a week should I eat meat? Is it all right to have 4 different cereal options? How low should I be trying to get my power bill? Is it all good to go to the movies? How often? And a million more questions. It may seem pedantic but while a dollar here or there makes no difference to you and I, and to our lifestyle; it can be the difference between life and death for people in some parts of the world.
Some people are asking themselves the same sorts of questions at the moment. Not because they are looking for fresh revelation regarding biblical stewardship but because we are in financially tight times. As a steward is it all good to consume more than we need because we earn more than we need? The challenge is to simplify by choice for others, not by force for ourselves. To what degree do we simplify though?
How much should we simplify our lives and tastes in order to limit our expenses?
How much is a justifiable allocation to personal dreams and wishes?
Are we allotting funds towards investment in order to one day give more, or is that just a good excuse to invest and feel more secure about life because of the wealth we may be amassing?
How much should we give away? When is enough, enough?
We live in a consumer culture and if we are honest with ourselves we are all massive consumers. Consumerism must be fought against through generosity. How does this work in day to day practice though?