There’s an internal memo from antiquity—sent from one faith leader to coach a younger leader named Timothy. Timothy was leading a faith community in Ephesus (in modern day Turkey).
It might seem odd, but one of the principles this tenured leader offers is how to lead rich people:
Teach those who are rich in this world not to be proud
and not to trust in their money,
which is so unreliable.*
Those reading the word “rich” back then would’ve had a clear image.
When we think of rich, we think of someone with helicopters living on their own island. But in that time, poverty was the norm. The original context would’ve seen "rich" as someone with more than enough food, clothing and shelter. In other words, they would’ve imagined many of us. They might’ve imagined someone like you.
My daughters sometimes struggle with comparing what they don’t have with what others do have (did I say, “my daughters”? I meant “me”.). I’ve tried to offer a little perspective. In one attempt, I lined up 10 pencils, side-by-side and said, “Let’s imagine the pencil on the far right are the richest people in the world. The pencil on the far left are the poorest people in the world. Which pencil do you think you are?”
They chose the pencil just a little “richer” than middle—just a little right of center.
Then, I drop this truth bomb: “Did you know you, all your friends, AND Taylor Swift, AND Jeff Bezos all live in the pencil farthest to the right?! The rest of the world, some 6.5 billion people, live in all the other pencils! You're relatively RICH!"
And...they haven’t struggled to be grateful since (I wish).
You probably don’t have everything you want, but you likely have your basic needs met.
You know how you can know? You’re breathing.
You know how else you know you have what you need? You have the luxury of wrestling with what you want.
What most satisfied people in the upper-est of the upper crust will report is that satisfaction wasn’t finally found in having more of what they wanted, but in redirecting their attention to wanting something more reliable—more rich, more stable, more transcendent.
You don’t have to have it all to think life is only what you have.
You don’t have to have it all to think life is only what you have. Getting more will just magnify that you haven’t explored what you want most. Begin this journey by appreciating that your basic needs are met, you’re better off than you might realize and you still long for more—more than money can buy you.
PRAYER / MEDITATION FOR TODAY:
“God, you’ve clearly given me everything I need and some of what I want. Today, help me remember how fortunate I am to be alive, but also give me the courage to face this aching pang in my soul—even if I’m afraid it will never be satisfied.”
*Paul’s first letter to Timothy, chapter 6, verses 17, emphasis mine