Satisfaction and the Space Between Expectations

“We become satisfied when reality matches our expectations. The bad news is that as conditions improve, expectations balloon" (Yuval Harari, Homo Deus, 35).

When will you ever accept yourself? color with gladness within the lines of your budget? be at home in your dwelling?

I ask myself these things.

"But if we have food and clothing, with these we will be content. But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation, into a snare, into many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils. It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs" (1 Timothy 6: 8-10 ESV).

The journey to financial well-being is not a steep climb up a debt-free mountain, but a deep breath by still waters in the Valley of Now.

Awareness, not amounts, is the basis for contentment.

A Tanner, By the Sea

When God revealed in Acts 10 that the salvation project was open to all, it happened at the home of Simon, a tanner, by the sea.

He lived by the sea because he needed water for his leather-working business.

He lived by the sea because he was a smeller of a feller.

Jews allowed wives to divorce tanners if they couldn’t take the funk. Jews didn’t hardly allow wives to divorce husbands for anything.

And here, on a rooftop, in a tanner’s home, God revealed to Peter that he and his comrades should not call anything unclean that God calls clean.

The setting is the message.

Whatever you do, wherever you do it, God is at work; work with God.

For a video on tannery, check out this quick video.

153: A Fisherman's Tale of Why God and Money Mix

153 - the number of scaly silverbacks those bone-wet, exhausted nighttime disciple-anglers hauled in when the resurrected Jesus told them to cast on the right side of the boat, following a deplorable night of getting skunked. They'd caught nothing until this point.

Sometimes I'll hear people say ill-informed, un-biblical, theologically juvenile (you see where I stand on this) things like, "God and money don't mix," or, "God doesn't care about money." I've now edited my response down to one number, and then I walk away: 153.

153 - someone took the time to count this massive haul of fish. Perhaps the accountant-type among the disciples watched as each fish was transferred from the net into another pile. This makes you wonder whether they really discerned the true astonishment in their midst: the risen Son of God stood overlooking this arithmetic. Who counts fish when your recently-crucified Lord comes around? Or, as Duncan so aptly points out in The River Why, perhaps the all-curious Jesus counted them himself as they gathered around him in adoration; the number mattered to Jesus because it mattered to his disciples.

We don't know who counted what, but we know for sure that there were 153 fish, that the net did not break (Made in Jerusalem), and that they were sure happy that Jesus had a few fish already on the grill when they rowed their way to shore to do the counting of the miraculous catch.

So, when you wonder whether God and money mix, or whether God cares about money, remember 153, realizing that the simple numbers of life such as money matters matter to God because they matter to us. And, if what you're doing now with your finances isn't working, perhaps try the other side of the boat, or put clearer, seek direction from the words of Jesus.

Understand Your Money Mindset

I coach Little League baseball, and one seven-year-old continually asks me why he must do whatever I'm asking him. "Hey, Junior, move over to the left," I said. "Why?" he inquired. "Because I said so," I barked. He looked at me and asked, "Okay, so what's the baseball reason?"

After I filtered everything I wanted to say, I realized that it actually was a good question. Sure, he needs to shut up and move (I don't have time to explain everything between plays), but if he doesn't understand why he's doing what he's doing, then he won't grow.

Most teachings on money focus on what you should do: save more, spend less, get a budget, and so on - all good. But stewardship, which is our true vocation as humans, is also about getting in touch with why we do what we do.

There are seven money mindsets that influence how you handle money, seven money types, if you will. And, seven biblical characters embody or depict these seven mindsets:

Abraham - Hospitality: This type loves to use money to make others feel special or noticed.

Isaac - Discipline: Seeks to maximize every dollar.

Jacob - Beauty: Uses money to create beautiful/pleasurable experiences or purchases.

Joseph - Connection: Money is a tool to forge relationships and connections.

Moses - Endurance: Money should be carefully organized.

Aaron - Humility: Money is a tool to serve those in need.

David - Leadership: Money creates new futures and builds a legacy.

Understanding your money mindset helps you realize that, whether you have much money or very little, you can use it in a way that brings you joy and that brings God glory. Discerning the money mindset of those around you may help diffuse financial tension.

When you understand your money mindset, you're better positioned to change unwanted behaviors and emotions. To discover your money mindset, take the quiz.

Awareness Not Amounts

A rich guy is turned away because he will not sell everything he has and give it to the poor.

A servant is chastised for not turning a few bucks into a pile of cash.

A poor widow is commended for giving a cent - all she has - into a defunct religious system.

A woman pours expensive perfume on Jesus’s feet; Judas interjects; Jesus allows.

A couple claim more generosity than is true; God kills them.

If you’re looking for a rule to follow when it comes to following Jesus with your finances, stop now, because you’ll only get confused. Instead, here’s a principle:

When it comes to stewardship, it’s not about amounts, but awareness.

Neither your 10% gift, your Sunday offering tip, nor giving it all away satisfies a spiritual stewardship quota that allows you to stop discerning how the Spirit, today and every day, is leading you to love God with all your heart, mind, and strength—which includes your finances.

For more on how you are naturally inclined to love God and others with your finances, consider checking out The Seven Money Types: Discover How God Wired You to Handle Money.