Global Economic Crisis,
Personal Heart Checks
By: Ramesh Richard
“How is the global financial crisis affecting you?” I asked a wealthy friend. He responded, “I’m having to reassess everything about money, especially my heart.” Reassessment should be a continuous heart-exercise. Solomon recommends that we constantly check our hearts, because the strategies of life flow out of it (Prov. 4:23). The biblical “heart” stands not only for the emotion and the mind, but also for the will that controls life.
I wrote down seven questions of heart-reassessment about money which we can ask ourselves. My only recommendation in this New Year’s exercise: be ruthlessly honest with yourself and invite the Spirit’s probing leadership. You’ll be surprised and comforted.
1. Ideas: What are my ideas concerning the good life? Am I confusing quality and quantity in my understanding? How can I get away from a “numbers” view of life?
2. Beliefs: How do I discern true beliefs from erroneous ones about God and mammon? How do I prudently use my finances? What do I believe is God’s role in providing for both the system and opportunity of making money?
3. Values: Which persons or possessions matter to me the most? Why? If a forest fire was encroaching to snuff out my home what would I take with me? My kids used to think I’d run with my computer first! I have since changed that value.
4. Sources: In whom or what do I trust? Where does my source of security, purpose, and joy lie? Do I consider money as merely a means to peace or the true source of existential peace? How can I be sure?
5. Relationships: In my relationship to people and things, how am I faring with covenantal responsibilities (i.e., to spouse), and those to whom I am connected genetically (i.e., kids, parents, siblings, etc.) and spiritually (believers, close and far off)?
6. Goals: Is money the goal of my life? A man wondered at 35, “If money was not an object, what would I set out to do?” Now at 70, he notes, “Money is not an object anymore, and I still don’t know what to do!”
7. Habits: Are my principles, priorities, and practices of earning, spending, giving money, etc. usually integrated? How do I deal with my own irrational thinking, incorrect believing, and/or impulsive doing in money matters?
After answering me, my friend returned the question: “How are you affected by the global crisis?” As a novice in money-making, I moved the conversation to a ministry level. I see this global season as a deep time of ministry opportunity.
• Opportunity to repent personally and church-wide for self-centeredness and self-sufficiency, both being tested right now. I sent out an e-mail challenging churches to find five minutes for prayer in their Sunday services before the U.S. election. A couple of pastors wrote back that they couldn’t afford five minutes to pray during services!
• Opportunity to capture this moment of increased personal awareness of spiritual deficit in the deepest, fastest, and widest possible ways for ministry. At the highest levels, our finest leaders are finally and publicly acknowledging the limitations of their intellectual abilities and capabilities. Let’s point them heavenwards.
• Opportunity to help those who are worse-off than us, “to do good to all people, especially to those in the household of faith” (Gal 6:10). I especially think of pastors under terrific economic pressure, or social persecution, or those affected by natural disaster. I know one country where you can only withdraw up to the equivalent of two U.S. dollars each day from the bank, but you spend that much to go on the bus to the bank. It is imperative that we help those in the family of believers at this time.
P.S. A banker friend recently told me, “since most people are worth 30% to 50% less than they were at the beginning of 2008 and are reticent to give, simply say a kind word and be there for the leaders of non-profits.” I am making it my goal to do just that in my sphere of Christian leaders, just like my friends have always been there for me. Thank you in advance and in anticipation for the gift of your presence.