Three Principles for Following Jesus Outside the Walls of Wealth
To the Ends of the Earth | A guest blog by Roy Goble
[Editor’s Note: I am pleased to turn the reigns of this week’s Steward’s Journey blog over to my friend Roy Goble. Roy has just published his new book, Junkyard Wisdom: Resisting the Whisper of Wealth in a World of Broken Parts. This blog is drawn from the book and I know you will be blessed by his ‘junkyard wisdom’.]
But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth. Acts 1:8
Following Jesus as a wealth creator is anything but simple.
In fact, it requires a lifetime of wrestling with God. Why? Because wealth presents a permanent temptation to build walls between ourselves and others. Walls of comfort, security, and fear. Walls of forgetfulness. Jesus calls us to be his witnesses to the ends of the earth, but that command is exceedingly difficult to obey if we only relate to people who are similar to us.
God can use anyone—and will use anyone—provided that person is willing to move beyond the cultural walls that inevitably separate them from others.
With that in mind, I’d like to share three principles that help me tear down walls and follow God…sometimes to the ends of the earth, and sometimes to the end of my block! These principles aren’t just helpful in a general, once-and-for-all sense, but in specific, daily ways. They are: viciously attack ego, shut up and listen, and value community.
1. The reason for viciously attacking ego is simple:
the more I value my own intellect, skills, experience, and so on, the more likely I am to cut everyone else out of the loop. Including God. But that’s how ego is: like a hydra combined with a jack-in-the-box. It’ll keep popping up, and coming back, and showing up in unexpected places. Over and over and over.
So you attack ego. I have enough experience now that I can start to recognize when I’m acting like a walking, talking ego. Or more often, I’m fortunate enough to be married to D’Aun, who can—and does—point out when my ego rears its head. I also have a few key friends who love me enough to challenge me. Absent external input, you can only attack your ego some of the time, though, because you can only catch it some of the time. Giving select friends and family license to speak the truth to you is vital.
2. And the best way to attack ego? That leads to my second practice—shut up and listen—
because the primary way to deflate your own pride is get outside of your own head.
But even listening more is a tricky one, mostly because it can seem like you’re listening when you really aren’t. Have you ever used your detailed questions to tell someone how much you already know? Me too!
It’s exceedingly difficult to listen if there’s nothing you’re listening for. When I already “know all the answers,” the only kind of communication that will interest me is one-way: me telling things to others.
3. Which leads to the value of community.
This is something that’s ridiculously hard for me—and if you’re reading this blog, there’s a good chance it’s hard for you as well. Why? Because we’ve often been trained to present only our best selves, only our successes, and not to show weakness or failure…or even something as innocuous as uncertainty.
I’ve been independent since my junkyard days. Independence was a core family value for the Gobles, something my “John Wayne” father instilled deep into my soul. And I didn’t get any less independent as I aged. (I was going to say ‘matured,’ but…)
To this day I struggle with the desire to forge ahead alone. Even my blog uses the catch phrase, “Lead, follow, or go your own way.”
However, valuing community has helped me meet people I never would have met otherwise. I’ve formed friendships with Jesus-following partners around the globe, and I’m a better person because of those relationships. More importantly, though, God’s kingdom is better because of those relationships.
So: viciously attack ego, shut up and listen, and value community.
These aren’t perfect principles we put in place once and then forget about. They aren’t foolproof. Rather, they’re proof against the foolishness of overvaluing ourselves, of being too quick to speak, and of operating as a lone wolf. And they might just help us break down the walls that separate us from others.
This stuff may sound simple, but it’s definitely not easy.
According to scripture, creating wealth is good, if our aims align with God’s aims. But the trouble with aim is that even a little difference makes a huge difference. Imagine you’re flying to Hawaii from Los Angeles. That’s 2,500 miles—and if your heading is off by only a few degrees, you’re going to miss Hawaii by dozens or even hundreds of miles.
That’s why I try to practice these principles. They aren’t surefire ways to solve every problem. They don’t make me perfect. In fact, I practice them because of how imperfect I am! These three principles simply help me, daily and weekly, to cross the cultural walls that surround me.
My prayer is that they will help you as well.