The One Disconnect That Can Set You Free
Resisting the drive for more
Some great truths are simple to understand and near impossible to live out. In speaking to people of wealth who are committed to being faithful stewards, there is one consistent truth that is woven into all of their stories. It’s a truth that applies to all of us, regardless of our financial situation. These people who have been able to handle wealth with freedom and joy have done so because somewhere along their journey they disconnected income from lifestyle.
Put another way, they defined what was ‘enough’. And that one definition set them free. They found contentment in a simple life, and joy in how much it allowed them to invest in God’s work. As their income and wealth grew, their giving grew with it while their lifestyle stayed the same. Now, they made adjustments for different seasons of life (you need more income to support a growing family than when you’re only a couple, for instance), but their commitment to spend modestly on themselves, cap their lifestyle expenses and give everything else away never wavered.
What is the alternative? Well, listen to this excerpt from The Four Gifts of the King, and consider the drive that pushed Cassandra to build her ramps, regardless of the cost.
We’re all under a lot of stress.” She looked across to another Ascender and scowled. “And there’s why. Curse them! They’re beating us. They’ll get to the mountain before we do. We have to work harder and faster.”
Steward looked out at the impressive face of the distant mountain that jutted up from the valley floor. “What’s on the mountain that’s so important?”
“What’s on the mountain?” She sighed and spoke as if she were lost in a dream. “My dear Steward, everything you could ever want is on the mountain. There’s security, peace, contentment, and power. You have control of life up on the mountain. No one can tell you how to live. You are completely your own person up there. No more toiling every day in the hot sun. The rewards for hard labor are there. It is all up there, Steward, and I will be up there to get it. All the way at the top. That’s where the rewards are the greatest.”
Steward scratched his head. This valley was beautiful. There were streams, orchards, stands of aspens. What more could anyone want? And could all this work and anger be worth it?
Steward was still intimidated by Cassandra, so he chose his words with care. “Respectfully, Cassandra, it seems that most everything you describe is available here in the valley. Do you really need to go to the mountain to find it?”
Cassandra scowled and faced Steward. “Of course you do! Are you out of your mind? None of these things are available down here. Do you think I would be investing my whole life in attaining something I could get just as easily here in the valley? How dare you even imply such a thing?” (The Four Gifts of the King, Morgan James Publishing, 2019)
Our desire to disconnect our income from our lifestyle may garner a similar response. Are we out of our minds? The world around us is on an incessant drive to build ramps to higher mountains where they believe true happiness can be found. More money, more power, more control, it’s all up there.
But of course, it isn’t. I had one wealth manager tell me, “I know a lot of unhappy wealthy people, but I’ve never known an unhappy generous person.” We were created to be givers. We bear the image of the God who, ‘so loved the world that He gave…’. In order to know the abundant life Jesus promised, to “take hold of the life that is truly life”, as Paul commanded Timothy (1 Timothy 6), we must make this critical disconnect.
Are you free from the need for more and more to fund your own lifestyle, or are you standing with Cassandra on your ramp, working feverishly to attain something that will ultimately allude you (as it did her)? Steward leaders define what is ‘enough’ according to God’s economy, and they are set free to give more away than they ever thought possible. May that be your legacy.