Valentine’s Day often brings the ooshy-gushy feelings of LOVE that get us all excited. It’s like (or can be) Christmas for Adults. While you might be celebrating February 14th with the love of your life, do you have a second lover? Is money the love of your life?
The History of Money
While there are many (good and bad) money references in the Bible, possibly the most popular verses is “For the love of money is the root of all evil” written in 1st Corinthians.
Money in itself isn’t bad or evil. We work so we can eat, have a warm house, and take vacations with our loved ones. In our current time, money is a paper bill or metal coin with a number stamped on it. The larger the number, the more valuable the coin or dollar bill.
Today, we use U.S. dollars, British pounds, Pesos, Euros, etc. A hundred years ago, you would have had to use pesetas in Spain, liras in Italy, and francs in France. Still a form of paper currency, but, now these forms of money are more valuable with collectors than banks.
Before the days of currency, cultures and civilizations traded with physical goods. The Pilgrims used beads when they first landed in America, agrarian societies predominantly favored livestock. We think of this as barter and it still thrives today.
Think about it, if you were stranded in the middle of Timbuktu and only had American dollar bills, they are pretty worthless to the local people that cannot exchange them for their local currency. But, if you could pay them with chickens, cleaning their house, or cooking them a meal in exchange for helping you, you are “rich.”
The Love of Mammon
When we hear “the love of money” it’s easy for us to focus on the number of figures behind the $ sign in our monthly bank statement. For several generations, paper currency has been the preferred source of payment.
A more accurate portrayal to understand the love of money is to actually view it as the love of mammon.
I know, you’re probably asking, “What’s mammon?” No, it’s not some exotic animal or food, although I suppose it could be.
Wikipedia defines mammon as material wealth.
Our predominant form of mammon is the # of dollars in our bank account. It can also be the # of cars in the driveway, the big screen tv with NFL Sunday Ticket, climbing the corporate ladder to become more wealthy, or spoiling your children.
The Many Forms of Mammon
Real estate tycoons might want to own an entire town (think Potterville from It’s A Wonderful Life or the board game Monopoly).
Ranchers & farmers count their wealth in heads of cattle, arable acres, # of farms, etc.
Look into your own life.
Analyze why you work & how you spend your money and time.
Our Life Priorities
We make time for what’s most important to us. People all the time say, “I want to start doing that but I don’t have the time.”
Why don’t you have the time?
Is it because you have to watch every football game on the tv each weekend? Is spending 2 or 3 hours each afternoon at the gym that necessary?
Taking a second to analyze and tracking how you spend your time at work & away from work can be a great indicator of your life priorities. Or you can ask your loved ones.
I’m not saying you need to be reckless or irresponsible. You need to do what it takes to care for your family and pay the monthly bills. Don’t quit your job on a whim to spend more time with the kids when you need the income to live.
Gradually Shift Your Priorities
One of the reasons I accepted the job offer I did when graduated college was because it paid the most & I had bills to pay. After paying off my student loans, I stayed because I was addicted to the paycheck and didn’t think I could live without it.
Despite leaving this job, my wife still needs to gently remind me at times that my initial focus of each conversation returns to money.
Here’s my real-life example (as I recall the dialog):
Wife: Do you like teaching or your old supervisor job more?
Me: I like the flexibility of teaching and being home each evening, but, I still wish I had the old paycheck. Living on less now, I realized how much better I could have spent the money than.
Wife: Josh, you got paid all that money because you sold your life to them. What you make now isn’t great, but, you don’t have the stress, politics, and long hours as you used to. You’re happier now & won’t die of a stroke when you’re 50 either.
Stop thinking only about the money! How many times have we gone without food or couldn’t pay the bills because you don’t work there anymore?
Sure, we can’t go on fancy vacations to Europe or Hawaii, but, in this chapter of life with babies in diapers we really wouldn’t go anyway.
Thankfully I got a good one with my wife. She continually challenges to make me out of my comfort zone in every facet of life.
Wealth Is Addicting
See a recurring theme?
I (& many others) value success by the size of our salaries. It’s human nature to want more. That’s good when harnessed for the correct purpose.
The want for more is what helps us understand more about the world and improve our quality of life. It’s how we went from the Wright Brothers initial flight, to Charles Lindbergh’s trans-atlantic flight, to supersonic passenger flight.
I have been reading a book lately about life purpose called The Call by Os Guinness. Truth be told, I bought this book in June 2013…I finally got past the 2nd chapter almost 4 years later.
One chapter of the book talks about famous business leaders & some of the motives behind their empires.
For example, Sam Walton was begged by his wife not to scale his Wal-Mart franchise beyond a few stores. After the 18th store, she realized her request was futile.
One of Andrew Carnegie’s primary motives was to return to his hometown in Scotland as a hero as his family left because of financial hardship. Early on, he told his mom one day they would be rich & ride around in horse-drawn carriages. In reply, she said, “That would do us no good over here if no one in Dunfermline can see us.”
Use Your Wealth For Good
While there is a certain stigma if you make less than a certain dollar amount each year ($35,000/$50,000/$100,000 depending on your community and social circles), it’s okay to not make a lot if you are happy. We are all blessed differently.
You don’t have to be a millionaire to do good. Use the wealth you have to take care of your family and have a good quality of life. Give to a charity at Christmas or for your children’s birthdays. Start living within your means to finally accomplish your life goals.
Don’t Do It Alone
Sometimes we can’t see the forest from the trees in regards to our own shortcomings. Other times we can and don’t know how to change.
If you want to change your “love” ask your spouse, a close friend, or mentor to help. If you are spiritual, pray. Maybe they have noticed your flaws and have been waiting for an opportunity to help you become a better person. Sometimes you just have to ask. 😉
Remember, it’s okay to have money & wealth. But, know when to be happy with what you have and to make the most of it. Also, don’t squander what you have, whether it’s a lot or very little.
What is your second “love?” What are you willing to do to solely focus on what’s truly important?