The Bible is full of examples of people who surrender their life to God and turn their world upside down. History also has examples of people who have fulfilled their purpose and made an impact that is felt hundreds of years after their death. As Christians, we are encouraged to seek God’s direction in our lives first and foremost. We are further admonished to trust God for the mundane needs of life (Matthew 6:25-34). I have written several posts over the years about the fact that these concepts appear to be foreign to the Americanized Christian. Maybe that is why we rarely see a Christian that positively impacts our culture. It is even more rare to see American Christians do things that qualify as “turning the known world upside down” (Acts 17:6).
In my experience, Americans fall into three general categories.
Pleasure in the moment:
This person works hard and parties harder. Their motto would be, “eat, drink and be merry for tomorrow we die”. They are not concerned with long term investments, physical health, financial planning or retirement. They can see the value of saving for a rainy day, but believe that it is out of their grasp. They feel that they may as well enjoy the comforts they can afford today. In the best case scenario, those comforts are recreational equipment, food or expensive vehicles. In the worst case scenario, those comforts include drug or alcohol addictions. Regardless, they work to fund their next “comfort” with little concern for the future. They repress their passion and purpose in favor of pursuing temporary comfort.
This person works hard and saves harder. Their motto would be, “If you don’t have a plan, you plan to fail”. They are very concerned with long term investments, physical health, financial planning and retirement. They gladly put off today’s comfort in order to achieve a goal. They are fans of long term plans, such as Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University. In the best case scenario, they spend 30+ years working hard, denying self and paying debts. They will own their home, their late model vehicle and have sent their children to college. In the worst case scenario, they spend 30+ years working hard, denying self and paying debts only to find that life’s unexpected expenses have outweighed their ability to plan and save. Regardless, they are rarely able to relax and enjoy what they have. They repress their passion and purpose in favor of pursuing an allusive future security.
This person works hard and takes risks. Their motto would be, “no risk, no return”. They are willing to work an endless string of hustles, hoping to get rich quick and render long term financial planning mute, because they will never have financial worries again. In the best case scenario, they find the right hustle and become wealthy, only to find that they have become addicted to the hustle. It is no longer about the money, it is about the next thing. In the worst case scenario, the right hustle never comes along and they spend their life in pursuit of the right risk. Regardless, they are rarely able to relax and enjoy what they have. They repress their passion and purpose in favor of pursuing the next thing.
Obviously these categories are a gross generalization and may not fit every person, but I believe that if you are honest with yourself you have characteristics that fit into one of these categories. If you have lived for awhile you may have even tried finding your fulfillment in more than one of the categories.
I do not want to declare the benefit of one category over another. I contend that, for believers, there should be another category entirely. The examples from the Bible and history, that I referenced earlier, are not the result of seeking pleasure, security or wealth. They are the result of seeking first the kingdom of God and trusting God for the outcome. If you are a believer and want to make an impact on your world, I want to challenge you to ask God what his plan is for your life, then be willing to step out of the three categories listed above and into the category of “world changer”.