I often get asked the question: “how much is enough?” This question resonates deeply with me. In the mid 1970s, after I first became a Christian, I was involved in an evangelistic campaign through Campus Crusade for Christ. I worked all day at the large accounting firm I had started, and then I headed to a small rented space at night to work the phones at a metal desk in a creaky chair. During that time, my heart was captured by the hope of the gospel, and the perspective I attained in the evenings spent with Campus Crusade changed my view of my “day job.”
From that point on in my life, I was riveted by the truth that perspective has everything to do with contentment, and prosperity has very little to do with it. Those busy, successful days often left me frustrated and empty; while the meaningful evenings spent engaged in evangelism left me hungry for more. Contentment, it turned out, had nothing to do with how much money I made or who I played golf with. It had everything to do with joining God in what He was doing in the world.
“perspective has everything to do with contentment, and prosperity has very little to do with it”
“How much is enough?” is a question that a financial planner spends most of his days helping people to answer. Budgets, retirement planning, debt repayment, college savings, insurance needs, etc., all are various ways of answering that question with a client.
My financial advice over the years has been to “set finish lines.” Decide ahead of time where you want or need to end up in various financial areas, and then work out a plan to head in that direction. Decide on your long-term goals first. Then, determine the margin you will need in order to save for those goals. Finally, set a spending plan that will give you the margin you desire so that you can meet the long-term goals. Financially and materially, this is my ongoing advice in various forms to the many questions I’ve encountered from clients.
“we are capable of re-focusing our perspective and becoming free to be content – whatever we have.”
Spiritually, though, the true answer to “how much is enough?” has much more to do with contentment and perspective than it does with 401(k)s and budgets. We will always be constrained by an earthly perspective with earthly temptations and concerns, but in His Word, God gives us a glimpse into eternity. By meditating on Scripture and using it as a touchstone for our souls when we are tempted to be anxious about our material provision, we are capable of re-focusing our perspective and becoming free to be content – whatever we have. I encourage you to put yourself in the path of perspective-altering opportunities. Whether that means that you spend time in Bible Study, participate in service in your community, join with missionaries by supporting their service, or even take a walk in a garden and appreciate the completely non-material beauty of a flower, your life will be enriched by the process of seeking an eternal perspective on a regular basis.