I heard on the news that a baseball player, Giancarlo Stanton, received the highest salary that has ever been paid ($325 million over 13 years). Salaries of CEOs, movie stars, entertainers, and sport figures have become astronomical. The popular wisdom is that if someone is willing to pay and if someone is so good, that person should be paid accordingly.
I find this concept not only at the millionaire and billionaire levels, but it is prevalent at so many other levels. I am the son of an immigrant family who came here legally. My parents worked hard in Detroit and then in Los Angeles. They always had menial jobs because they were not equipped to do other jobs and because of their language deficiencies. One of the mantras of my parents was that they wanted their children to be better and have more than what they had. They wanted us to have better educations, better jobs, better homes, and better neighborhoods. We were driven to succeed by our parents and we dared not disappoint them.
Within the last 8-10 years, I have heard many parents tell me that they are not sure that their children will have equal or better lives than them. They see themselves as failing, they see the government as failing, and they see so many agencies and institutions as failing. This led me to ask, what is a good or sufficient lifestyle? What is a good size house in which to live? What is considered a good job?
I find that more has become the enemy of contentment and thanksgiving. In talking with some of the young people, I find that some are thinking of getting professions that will provide more because otherwise, they, or their parents, and later spouses will not be satisfied. They want to move upwards so that they will have a bigger house than their parents and better jobs and positions.
Apostle Paul wrote, if you have what to eat and what to be clothed with, you should be content (1 Timothy 6:8). I do not know if this will be considered a minimalistic economical approach, but I am asking how we reach that satisfaction and contentment. How does one stay content and at what level?
We teach from one generation to another. Have my children seen contentment and thanksgiving in my life? Have I inherited some of my characteristics from my parents and have I pushed my children in the same categories that they have pushed their children?
The answer is a resounding yes. I live in a different context – more educated, more comfortable, more monied, and more connected nationally and internationally. The overriding factor is if I and my children have become more generous with our possessions and accomplishments.
I hope that my children have not seen greed in my lifestyle, but an ever increasing generosity of everything that I have, including giving of myself for the benefit of others.
Whenever I reflect on these topics, I always return to that verse from Genesis that tells us that God has entrusted this world to humanity and He wants us to be good stewards of his bounty (Genesis 1:28). The Psalmist reflecting on that concept says, “The earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof,” (Psalm 24:1). Yet, God has entrusted this fullness into our hands. A good steward does not only gather and keep – a good steward gathers and distributes to all who are in need.