To Use or Abuse?

photo by Jean Lakosynk

photo by Jean Lakosynk

By: Ivy McGraw

I am not a banker, an accountant, a stockbroker, nor a tax consultant; I’m not employed by an insurance company; I’m not an accounting or finance major.

I have little knowledge or wisdom pertaining to divvying up money, saving, spending, or discerning worth of items and prices.

However, I shall share with you the little knowledge and perspective I do have.

The problem with money is that we give it too much power over us. This is my immediate thought about money, or at least the first one I typed out when I began writing this. I have always liked the idea of money being irrelevant—some make-believe currency that we humans decided to entertain ourselves with by keeping a record. And maybe, all of a sudden, people are going to wake up and say, “Hey! We don’t need money! We can just give each other what we need, no payments required!”

Have you ever wondered if that is possible?

Recently, I got to work as a counselor for children at an annual conference in which families help one another find ways to best steward their money. These families come from all over the country, and the adults discuss possibilities and opportunities for investing in the lives of those who have great need. Meanwhile, the children experience a camp-style program, playing with each other and their counselors as the parents go to sessions.

I bring this up because these families are extremely wealthy families. They question what to do with all their money, so they seek advice and guidance from other relatable families. After all, the more money, the more temptation (and opportunities) to spend selfishly.

Something I observed about this is that life is not necessarily easier for those with a lot of money. It’s a big responsibility, as well as a constant battle against becoming dependent on money. For if there was a vortex that sucked every person’s belongings out of sight, who would most likely suffer more: the one who had much or the one who had little? Those with less may acquire adaptability more naturally than those with more. Those with more have to be very deliberate in order to seek a “less is more” attitude.

However, money is a tool—a tool that can be used well (as well as a tool that can be misused). There is so much good that money can be used for in this world. For example, money is a means of equity for people in different levels of less fortunate positions. Money may not be naturally distributed evenly, but with grace and compassion, people can assist in making money flow where it is actually needed most.

In order to be these people, we cannot cling to what we have. After all, everything is a gift…and the world is full of need. There is not an end checkpoint of contentment with money, and there never will be, so we might as well give wealth away as we receive it. This could look like a number of things other than money, as well. As powerful of a tool money claims to be, it is not something worth idolizing. If we worship money for the happiness that it fleetingly promises, we will never be satisfied!

Money is a great gift and useful tool in the hands of a generous person. Let us accept it with open hands, but let us also give it away with eager, compassionate hands.