I was an economics major in college, but that does not mean I really understood how to understand wealth in light of my Christian faith. It is easy to take shots at wealthy people. They (we!) have nice car(s), nice house(s) and spend money on things we don't necessarily need. We hear calls for radical living and giving often and might even questions someone's faith when they have so many nice things relative to what we have. So what did being a small town pastor have to do with softening my hard line stance on wealth?
My church was made up of contractors. Some of them were very gifted carpenters. Others were skilled landscapers. Another was a builder. Who do you think employed them? It was people who had "extra money" to spend on remodeling their home by either upgrading rooms they had, building an addition or landscaping their property. Now these people could have spent their money on feeding children, planting churches, providing clean water or a whole host of worthy endeavors. But if this money had been donated to charity, the members of my church would have been out of job, unable to use the skill they had learned to provide for their families and therefore needing the church to care for them. Even more so, I would have been out of a job, as the church members would have had no money to pay my salary.
So next time you think about being hard on people who don't give away all of their discretionary funds, just remember that there are a lot of people in your church who's job relies on people spending their money on services your members, who have been gifted by God, can provide.
Darren Carlson is the Founder and President of Training Leaders International. As President, Darren oversees the general direction of the ministry and serves as an advocate for pastors with little access to formal training and thoughtful cross-cultural theological engagement. You can connect with him on Facebook and Twitter.