Wednesday, December 31, 2008

2008: Things I Wish We Had Learned...

...But I don't think we have!

Today we say goodbye to a year of increased challenges -- especially on the economic front. Many adults in our nation are facing financial hard times for the first time in their lives. Our season of seemingly unlimited prosperity is over for the moment and we have a great opportunity to reflect. Hopefully we could see long-term attitude and action adjustments. I doubt it, though. Here is a grab bag of changes I would hope we have the sense to make.

1. You can't borrow yourself into prosperity.
I have heard that even some economists think you can, but let's get real. Our Creator knows better and says so: "The poor are always ruled over by the rich, so don't borrow and put yourself under their power." (Proverbs 22:7 The Message)

2. The best economic growth is slow and steady.
I frequently talk to people my age who are shocked that their grown children want to start their adult lives with all the things their parents have taken years to collect. An inheritance gained hurriedly at the beginning Will not be blessed in the end. (Proverbs 20:21 NASB)

3. Blaming someone else for our problems will rob us of great lessons we could learn.
Of all the sad stories which have come from our money meltdown, this one disturbs me the most. "The government let this happen!" "It was those corrupt lending institutions!" "It's the president's fault!" "It's those greedy people from Wall Street (or the automakers or the unions)." Sadly, almost none of us has stepped to the front and said, "I did it. I bought things I couldn't afford. I bought a bigger house. I took out a second mortgage to buy a new SUV. I spent everything I made to add more and more stuff to my life." The Bible says, "If you hide your sins, you will not succeed. If you confess and reject them, you will receive mercy." (Proverbs 28:13 NCV)

4. We are not able to determine our own destiny.
It's a fallacy to think that we can just will ourselves back into prosperity. The very real possibility is that, by the time this recession is over, we will no longer be the world's only superpower. We Americans have arrogantly thought that we could withstand all challenges and come out on top. We have subtly supposed that we have all the answers for every problem in the world. In my limited travels in the third world, I have observed this arrogance first-hand. American missionaries go to other nations and try to impose American models of ministry. They refuse to believe that the locals are fully capable of taking the lead and developing strategies to get the job done.

5. We discover life in how much we serve, not in how much we think we DEserve.
During our economic heyday, we have had the freedom to buy virtually everything we think we want. With a little creative financing, we have constantly played Santa Claus to ourselves. The mad rush to die with the most toys has left us empty and frustrated. I would love to think that we will see a whole new spirit of people genuinely giving their lives away, even when they feel that they have nothing. If that were to happen, they might find joy that was unattainable through bloated buying.

There you have it. Five things I wish we had learned. What would you add to the list? As we say farewell to 2008, I would love to hear your thoughts.


C. Beth said...

This is one I think we will unfortunately be learning over the following years:

Just as we can't individually borrow ourselves into prosperity, our government can't borrow us into prosperity either. It greatly concerns me that there seems to be this attitude that the government has the responsibility to bail out everybody, and so they just need to borrow more and more and more money to do it.

(I think you were alluding to that already in your post.)

C. Beth said...

Great post, by the way. I like the DeSERVE/SERVE thing.

Bill, Shannon & Maddie said...

Thanks Sam! Those are great things to ponder. I appreciate the Scripture backing them up.

Scriptor Senex said...

"Blaming someone else for our problems will rob us of great lessons we could learn." A really important one that - to me at least. Blaming others is something I'm really great at! Definitely food for thought.