I was chatting with a friend who had just moved into their new home and they were telling me what they wanted in their next house! I was thinking “You’ve found yourself in a race that you will never win”, and it also reminded me of my younger self way of thinking and the feelings of never having enough that went along with it.
I’ve heard many people give their views on buying vs renting, “Renting is money down the drain”, “You’ll never feel secure without a place you can call your own”, “It’s foolish to pay for someone else’s mortgage”, “You’ll be tied down forever”. Then there are the counter arguments, “I like not owing any money”, “I save so much time and money on house improvements”, “Relocating is much more straightforward in rented accommodation”, “Issues with heating or plumbing etc, are the landlord’s responsibility”. Having said all that, this topic is not really one that often divides opinion. Quoting from a popular financial product comparison site, “It is almost accepted wisdom that buying is better than renting; after all, owning a home is considered one of life’s great achievements”. I’ve sat on both sides of the fence with this, and I respect the merits of both arguments. What I want to get at is this: what buying a house represents for the majority of us that strive for it. What kind of mindset lurks behind the motivation to buy that house, and the house after that, and the house after that? To some extent, I think that everyone living in a developed country is, or is in danger of, trying to keep up with the Joneses. In other words: to always want to own the same expensive objects and do the same things as your friends or neighbours, because you are worried about seeming less important socially than they are.
I love the Church that my wife and I serve at, and it’s been a tradition now over the past five years that the senior leader announces a word for the year that acts like an overriding theme and focus. Last year’s was Ivy’s year of Excellence – Doing the best I can for God, with what he’s given me, wherever he’s put me. 2016 is the year of Equipping – Finding my place to fulfill my purpose. Accompanying the announcement was a message about worship and how the question for everybody isn’t a matter of worshiping or not, but rather, being honest with what we actually worship. Typically the word worship is reserved for use within Churches or to address some kind of deity, but just because you don’t worship God doesn’t actually mean you don’t worship anything at all. It just means you worship something else. Some people worship their football team. A lot of people are currently worshiping Star Wars (check out Youtube videos of people who are not really Star Wars fans because they’ve only watched the films about a dozen times each!). Others love expensive clothes, jewellery, celebrities, gaming, cars, and yes, houses too. So is what you worship enough? Will you be content with your accumulated treasure at the end of your life? Do you know how much money the most successful businessman in U.S history, John D. Rockefeller, left behind when he died? All of it! He couldn’t take it with him. Do you drive a nice car? I’ll be one of the first to show admiration for it. Have you got a nice big house? I want to attend the house warming! I’m not rejecting any of these things because in and of themselves they are simply neutral, what I want to get at is the person behind these things. What’s left after all these possessions are stripped away?
The bible says “Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also”. Where our energy and focus and money are directed, is where our treasure is. Everybody has treasure of some kind stored away in their hearts. To find out where a person’s heart lies, all you need to do is observe how they spend their week, the choices they make, what they spend their money on. Sometimes though, there doesn’t seem to be a clear pattern. This can reflect a kind of directionless living. Simply trudging through life with no passion or ambition, let alone a meaningful one. But rather than looking outwardly at others, better to start with yourself first. You owe it to yourself to spend a little bit of time reflecting on what kind of treasure you are accumulating, particularly if it’s the type of treasure that simply gets left behind. Surely you were made for a bigger purpose…?
PS. Rockefeller had a fortune of $336 billion at his death. That was in 1937.