A Shocking Realization | Christians the Anchors Instead of Propellers

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Someone recently emailed and said that they sold all their investments so they could give the money away.

My first reaction was to try and write an email response that indicated my concern.

  • Was that really the wisest thing to do at this point in your life?
  • How did you determine that God really wanted you to do that?
  • What happens if something does not go as planned?

Why is that?

Why would I be the one to tell the widow to reconsider giving away her last two pennies?  Why would I be the one to tell the woman who anointed Jesus that a few tablespoons would be enough to honor him?  Why would I suggest that the widow of Nain kindly refuse the request to bake bread for the prophet?

Partially, I think we’ve created a predictable and well defined Christian culture.  We expect Christians to fit nicely within the boxes we’ve created, and we’re deeply concerned when someone starts doing something we consider weird, crazy, or radical (exempt now those terms are in vogue for Christians as they are all titles of popular Christian books).

In his book, Money, Possessions, and Eternity, Randy Alcorn talks about how a young convert wanted to sell his house and give the money away.  Unfortunately, in Alcorn’s opinion, other Christians convinced him it was a bad idea.  Francis Chan was recently saying that it’s often been the Christians around him who hold him back when he’s considering doing something they label as crazy.

What are we called to be?

The guardians of the faith?  The financial advisors who protect normalcy?  The protector of the box?  The police of all that is predictable?

Are we spiritual lifeguards who need to encourage everyone to stay in the shallow end because there is much more risk in the deep end?

Honestly, I make myself uncomfortable talking like this, but truthfully, a lot of what the Bible says makes me highly uncomfortable. 

Forgive others as God in Christ has forgiven you.  Show hospitality to strangers.  If anyone asks for your coa,t give him your tunic too.

Have we settled into a well defined and predictable Christian culture?

Are we holding people back whom God is seeking to propel forward?

I’m thankful for all the feedback I got on my post Trying to Practice What I Preach.  I received a lot more emails than blog comments.  I guess people wanted to keep their remarks more private.

But there was a sentiment of concern in the emails I received.

People would say things like, Why would a family who is giving 30% of their income not feel satisfied?  What wouldn’t a family who is giving 30% just accept the fact that that’s a generous life and go ahead and indulge themselves?

No one said that, but the sentiment was there.

I did have one person who chided me, essentially saying, “only 30%?”

This morning, I asked my wife if there was something more we could cut from the budget so we’d have more to give?

Why don’t we challenge ourselves to be more generous, more selfless, more giving?

I think C.S. Lewis would say it’s because we are far too easily pleased.

C.S. Lewis says (The Weight of Glory),

It would seem that Our Lord finds our desires not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.

I think about the things in life I’m satisfied with while God seeks so much more from his relationship with me.

It’s a fearful thing to be a propeller when you feel like being an anchor.  Yet, if God is who he claims to be and if the biblical promises are what they claim to be, we should be the propellers thrusting people forward in a faith-filled life full of uncertainty, anticipation, and the blessings of God.

Why do you think we tend to be anchors in our advice to others?  Is that what you think God calls us to be?  How do we balance wisdom with a radical call of discipleship?  Does God want balance?


  1. says

    I would tell the widow not to give both of her copper coins, keep one. That would only be 50% giving. It’s not like that one copper coin would buy anything of value but a least it wouldn’t seem as crazy to give everything. Good article…hurt my brain.

  2. Gabe says

    Fantastic article, Craig!
    You are right…it is so easy to feel like a “good” Christian when we are living just outside the status quo our culture has put Christianity within. We feel like we are “stretching” ourselves. But it is uncomfortable when we truly analyze the extremes Christians went through to be obedient to Christ in the early Church, and how that would translate to our day.

  3. kurtis says

    Great Post!
    On may occassions I have been the anchor to others and on other occassions Christians have been an anchor to me.
    Thanks for offering a counter-cultural perspective to this “American Christian” culture that is so often considered the only way to follow the bible.

    • says

      There are probably areas where we feel more comfortable pushing others forward and others where we spend more time pulling them back. It might just depend on our gift mix.

  4. Konce says

    Thanks, Craig, I needed that.

    As to the question of why we tend to be anchors in our advice to other Christians, for me I think it could be boiled down to pride. It would be self-indicting to be a “propeller”. I tend to be a propeller to those that I feel haven’t committed as much as me, and an anchor to those that I feel have committed more. To encourage someone to commit more than me would be admitting that maybe I’m not committing enough…and that is hard to do (and it makes my own faith look weak). However, if I can be an anchor and slow them down to my comfort level, I can go ahead and feel better about myself and my own priorities (and make my own faith look good). Bad deal.

    Thanks for the perspective.


    • says

      Thanks for your helpful comment. I think you’re right that the more we challenge others (propeller) the more we realize our insufficiencies. If we can encourage everyone else to stay in the box then it’s easier to explain our moderate actions.

    • says

      I agree! I was thinking it’s sometimes a sort of keeping-up-with-the-Joneses thing, when you want not only for other people to not have more than you, but you also want for other people not be more generous than you. It’s as if it’s a competition.

      Of course, there are times when one would be genuinely concerned that the other person is throwing themselves into a very hard life, or a life in which they would not be able to help others as much any more.

  5. Kim Farr says

    Wow! Definitely one of my favorite posts. Not only did you dare to think these things, you had the boldness to actually put them in print. Bravo! If only we could live unfettered lives running to the One who saves us with confidence. When I acknowledge God’s work in my life I often fail to realize that he has been right there the whole time waiting for me to stop making everything safe for myself before I take a step. Why are we so afraid? Don’t we believe that he really loves us and wants to show us what he can do? Thanks for the reminder to stop settling…

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