Reflections on a Gospel Economic Life

Context

Relevant Scriptures

Parable of the Shrewd Steward Luke 16:1-15
Parable of the Talents Matt. 25:14-30
The Kingdom of God like a Mustard Seed Matt. 13:31-32
Rich Man and the Camel Matt. 19:16-30
Who is the Faithful Steward? Luke 12:42-48
Jesus Cleanses the Temple John 2:12-22
Store Up Treasures in Heaven Matt. 6:19-34
Commissioning of the Apostles Matt. 8:8-10

Principles

Integrity – I will cultivate honesty and integrity in all my dealings, openly recognizing that this is central to building relationships of trust. If I don’t keep my word, it harms me, my family, and my community. Even if I seem to get the better end of the deal immediately, I know that in the long run it is a way that leads to destruction. I am committed to making only promises I can keep and by the grace of God and keeping my promises. I will do what I say I will do; and if there is a question as to whether or not I can or will be able to follow through, I will be clear and frank about it.

Communication – I will actively keep people who are invested in me and my work informed of the status of my pursuits. I will be proactive and honest in assuring that we are on the same page, and I will be forthright and immediate in addressing people when they have expectations that are not being met.

Generosity – By the grace of God, and according to his calling, I will model generous, sacrificial, open, giving that invests in people, my communities, and helps those in need. I recognize, however, that the need is not the calling, and commit to listen to the voice of God in considering where and how he is asking for investment.

Proactivity - I will be an actor, and not a reactor. When things happen that are beyond my control, I will take time to process them, and make a deliberate, prayerful move, rather than making immediate, knee-jerk decisions based on my gut and what I see others doing.

Visibility of Investment – When people give to me/my work, either in loan or investment, I will be a responsible, accountable, and honest steward, recognizing that these resources are not mine. I will gratefully consider where these resources come from, and be appropriately thankful to both their immediate source and Ultimate source, and put as much of the money as possible into measurable projects, rather than have it disappear in miscellaneous expenses or investments that are suspiciously aloof from visible mechanisms in the community.

Accountability – I will seek to be ruthlessly accountable in all of my economic dealings. I will find others with whom I can share my accounting books, so that they can ask questions and hold me to my standard and God’s standard.

Compassion – I recognize that not everyone will share my standards and values, that I will not always perfectly live up to my standards and values, and that my principles are probably not perfectly in line with the will of God right out of the box. When I encounter failure (either my own, or what I perceive to be failure in others) I will avoid the temptation to be judgmental, and listen to God speaking to me about how I can live more in line with his will. I will seek to emulate the forgiving grace of God by being gentle with myself and with others when mistakes are made.

(Bi)Locality – I will be a participant, not simply a consumer. I will keep as many of my resources (and the resources I am entrusted with) as possible within my community, investing in and through the community, rather than throwing cash into the larger nebulous, economic machine. I will continue to deepen, strengthen, and develop my relationship with my community through my use of resources.

Interdependence – I will model the fact that we need one another. I will work to develop my multi-dimensional niche in the community but I will not try to do everything myself. I will leave space for, encourage, and receive the contribution of others to my life and to community life.

Simplicity – I will ask of all things I am pursuing “Is this a need or a want?” If it is a want, are there needs that need to be met first? Are there excess “wants” that can be disposed of as a sacrifice before indulging in another want? I will cultivate a lifestyle of “traveling light” in imitation of Jesus, his disciples, and the many who have followed in his footsteps over the centuries.

Thrift – I will ask myself in all pursuits, “Is there a more cost effective way to the same end? Can I reduce my resource consumption without violating higher virtues?”

Humility – I will strive to think of myself accurately, and not in puffed-up regard. I will eschew paths that will ask me to be something other than a regular person, with strengths and weaknesses like any other. I will live my life in the visible community around me, rather seek to project myself onto a larger, invisible community through the vain pursuit of fame and fortune.

Hospitality – Of my personal resources, I will prioritize, even sacrificially, receiving the guest as Christ received us. I will work to create spaces, both physical and interpersonal, in which people feel comfortable and at home. I will always work to have something interesting, appropriate, and engaging to share with those I come across, both out of my person, and out of my treasury.

Openness and Connectedness – I will invite those I desire to influence to share life and ministry with me for a season. I will keep an updated address book, which I will also use as a cycle of prayer for my friends, family, and connection. I will make efforts to keep in touch with and encourage people who have been an important part of my life.

Contribution – I will cultivate a lifestyle of engagement, rather than individualism and privacy. I will always be on the look-out for ways that I can connect my gifts and skills with the needs of the community, and pursue these opportunities, rather than waiting for them to come to me. In the spirit of the Body, I will also seek to help others connect their skills to the needs of the community.

Sabbath – Regardless of the needs and pressures of my life, I will leave space for myself and God. I will integrate a rhythm of prayer into my working life, and always prioritize eating dinner with my family. I will make explicit space for my personal life, and actively fight the encroachment of my work into personal space. In this way, I will avoid workaholism and worship of productivity, and ensure that my life and worth is rooted in Christ, not the things I am doing.

Thankfulness – I will gratefully recognize both the immediate, and Ultimate source of all that I have through daily prayers of thanksgiving and practice of writing thank-you notes to earthly sources. By doing these things, I will avoid an attitude of entitlement, and avoid negativity and disappointment when things don’t work out my way.

Faith – I will prayerfully walk forward in these principles, even when it is difficult or does not seem immediately the most profitable path.

Examen – I will regularly evaluate my life according to these principles as part of my regular activities of prayer, community, and spiritual exercise. I will periodically reevaluate these principles themselves in light of the Scriptures, reason, my experience and observations, and what I am hearing from the Lord. I will value my personal growth and development as a child of God in the image and likeness of Jesus Christ.

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