In a group of 6 successful and high-flying friends, I am the one who went a different way.
I just don’t think I got the memo growing up: They went into the good classes, I was in the worst one. They did triple science, I struggled through combined science. They did economics, I went with the humanities.
And when we graduated (I did so more by God’s grace than my merit), all of them went on to take on great jobs in finance, while I went into full-time ministry.
Today, I earn a fraction of what they do. That’s sadly never more apparent than when we attend weddings together. We had a recent one actually, for one of the guys in our group.
As we watched the wedding proceedings unfold, we got to talking about the usual among ourselves: school-time shenanigans, exes that never seem to go away and… what I term as “finance stuff”.
In all our meetings, there’s usually a half hour or so where the conversation will revolve solely around topics like stocks, who’s moving where in the financial industry, how much this guy is getting paid as well as other topics filled with financial terms which usually leave me googling definitions quietly.
Over the years, as I’ve sat through these topics, and heard the passion and pride that tend to colour such conversations, I’ve come to realise two things.
1. I’m not as secure about God’s provision for me as I believed
I honestly don’t regret stepping into full-time. But when I hear such conversations, I sometimes get tempted to think of ways I can make more money.
To be sure, making more money certainly isn’t a sin. There are many rich Christians who can give up their riches for the kingdom, no questions asked.
It’s just that for me, I realised that when I’m not careful, such conversations can make me want to make more money in a bad way. That’s making money to stave off (and feed) the anxiety that no one but me will take care of me.
I recognise that’s dangerous because it can pull me away from trusting God for provision and put me in a place of striving.
I don’t know if you get that way when you listen to your friends talk about money.
I’ll qualify and say that there is definitely a place for stewardship and exercising due diligence in how we handle money.
But if you walk away from a conversation with an unhealthy urge to find out everything you can about investment or an anxiety that you’re missing out, it may be worth having a chat with God about provision.
You may even need to dip out of such “money” conversations with your friends if you know that it will trip you up.
God has indeed provided for me, most notably through my wife, who is remunerated far more. But there are times when my tendency is anxiety rather than gratitude. And whenever I’m in that place, I forget what God has done.
2. Their value and security lie in making money
I’ve grown up with these guys and love them as brothers – so I say this out of concern.
The fact of the matter is that at this moment, my friends have decided that money is what they will chase in this life, however it looks. It might be a new car, a huge house, being headhunted or even being able to namedrop other high-flyers they’ve been hanging out with.
Whenever I listen to such conversations, the hard questions I’ve never dared to ask them just keep surfacing.
- Is money all you guys are gonna chase?
- Is all this stuff where you derive security and value from in life?
Because I’m worried if their answer is yes. I’m worried for their sake, and also for the sake of my testimony — I will be held accountable for how I presented Christ to them with my life.
If you think about it, most of us would go to astounding lengths for the sake of security and to feel assured in life. And what drives it all? Why work so hard? Because you want to be sure things are under control.
When my friends describe their dreams, it’s about being at the pinnacle of their career or becoming a Wall Street god in terms of their burgeoning investment portfolio. Those are their forms of security.
But riches cannot take you to heaven – in fact the Bible tells us that it makes entering even harder.
What gets us to heaven then? It’s Jesus Christ, what He has done for humanity and a life of choices made in response to that.
So my life has to look different no matter what my surroundings look like. Chiefly, that means making life choices out of love and affection for the God who died for me.
Because what I value in life is different, and a secure future means something else entirely for me.
I’m betting on God and all my eggs are in His basket.
Which is why I wish I could have better expressed that sentiment when one of my bros turned to me in a quieter moment that night to ask: “How do you deal with not earning so much money in church?”
As I reflect, what he really was asking was this: “Why are you not like us? Why aren’t you chasing what we are chasing?”
For all the words I have written in this article on value, that moment with my friend was the best one to talk about what I prize in life – and yet I missed it. I just said to him that money isn’t everything and sheepishly left it that.
If I could take back that moment, I would tell him that knowing Jesus Christ has made all the difference in my life and that He alone holds my future.
I would say that I live each day with the aim to make much of God, and the hope that I will go to be with Him in paradise where my eternal rewards are.
And I would say that in Christ there is a security and treasure that can never be taken away by market crashes, viruses or wars. Even though I am weak and will fail, by the grace of God that is whom I place my value in and what I choose to chase.
And I hope you will do the same.
The writer’s name has been changed for confidentiality.
- What do you value in life and do your life choices reflect that?
- What lengths do you go to in seeking out security? Do you feel secure?
- How can you find balance between good stewardship of money and not allowing it to become an idol?