Priorities

Steve Arterburn

‘I really don’t know what’s wrong with me,’ said forty-two-year-old Tyrone to his counselor.  ‘I’ve attained many of my personal and business goals.  But I’m still breeding ulcers, trying to climb up the ladder.  With all my success, I’m still bummed when someone else beats me to a big sale or a new account.  I have a wonderful wife and two great kids, but I kind of feel like an outsider when I’m with them.  I’m often around people and have lots of friends.  But I don’t enjoy it, and I don’t think they’re really enjoying me.  I’m afraid my dark moods are distancing me from the ones I love.  But I don’t know what to do about it.’

Tyrone looks and acts like the American Dream personified.  By all outward appearances he’s succeeded in the areas of life that really matter in our society: family, friends, career, and finance.  But like so many men, Tyrone’s warm smile and confident exterior mask a deep sadness and uncertainty.  He often wonders what’s really worthwhile in life.  Despite all the trophies he’s accumulated indicating he’s a winner, he always feels defeated.

Can you relate to Tyrone?   The pursuit of the American Dream has left many feeling alone and angry, because prosperity can’t be measured by money or even family.  Who does the Bible teach is prosperous or blessed?  Only when you seek to find joy in your Creator and not in His creation, will your soul begin to find significance and true happiness. Stop and assess where you seek your joy.

Slave to Creditors

Excerpted from Every Man Ministries by Kenny Luck

There was a time when I needed an overhaul. It happened about 10 years ago when I was a credit-card company’s dream customer! My gold card fed my appetite for all sorts of ‘needs.” Clothes, birthday and anniversary trips, and lavish dinners out were all benign events for which I supplied perfect justifications. Christmas gifts, home improvements, and repairs on my snazzy foreign sports car became part of my lifestyle. And just as reality should have slapped me in the face, additional lines of credit would mysteriously arrive.

I started to earn more money, but I also started to believe my own rationalizations regarding my finances. I trusted our credit cards more than I trusted God. I certainly didn’t have the faith to believe that if we gave our 10 percent, He would make the other 90 percent work for us. So I gave less to the church and spent more on myself. I refused to deny my family any desire. I ignored my wife, Chrissy’s urgings to tighten our financial belts, which only accelerated our insidious spiral into financial bondage. All of the turmoil caused tremendous amounts of anxiety that remained invisible to outsiders but was visibly and verbally incinerating our home and marriage at the end of every month.

10 years ago I was a
credit-card company’s
dream customer!

One night, following a lively discussion with Chrissy about our messed up finances, I happened to open my Bible. My eyes fell to these words: ‘The borrower is servant to the lender’ (Proverbs 22:7). Seven words, seven tons of impact. I was a slave ‘ to my creditors. I had also enslaved my family because of my inability to say no to myself. Worse, my character deficiency had moved God away from the center of my life and replaced Him with financial anxiety. This was a form of idolatry. That truth kindled my repentance and a desire to change, which I confessed to my wife.

I also sought help from friends. Not financial help, but prayer and counsel regarding our precarious financial situation. I can remember weeping in front of my close friends after I disclosed that we had rung up twenty thousand dollars in credit-card debt. I was embarrassed in every way, but I was past caring. I was determined to do what it took to get honest with myself and with the mess I had created. The only way I knew to accomplish that was to humble myself before God, my wife, and my buddies and ask for their help. I remember saying, ‘Whatever it takes, Lord.’ Simply put, if that meant living with one car, so be it. If it meant giving to the church when it made no sense, I would give. If it meant submitting myself to an austere monthly budget for two years to get out of debt, that too, was what I would do.

 I became the RICHEST of all men
because, deep inside,
I was committed to the course!

That day, the last major bastion of control fell into God’s hands, and His victory was both humbling and liberating. Although I was awash in debt, I became the richest of all men because, deep inside, I was committed to the course.

What bastions have you erected against God’s goodness and blessing in your life? Most men can name them in a nanosecond Gad has already been speaking to them, convicting them that their priorities are seriously out of line. God’s message, and mine, is that those walls have to fall ‘ for the sake of His kingdom.