Barn Building and the Challenge of Too Much

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This article is part of the MH4C Writers Challenge. Since I’m taking a little break over the next few weeks, I’ve chosen ten guest articles to feature on this blog. I’d like to see which articles you like the most. If you like an article, please take a moment to ‘Like’ it on Facebook, ‘Tweet’ it, or give it a ‘Plus One’ on Google +. (To the right of the title, you’ll see each of those buttons so it should make your job easier.) The winner of the MH4C Writers Challenge is the article that has the most social media shares.

The following entry is by Riata Brown.  You can visit her blog here.

I am, by nature, a barn builder. Not a barn builder in the sense of wielding a hammer and nails with any particular agility, but a barn builder in the sense that I save money in anticipation of the disasters that tomorrow might bring. Unfortunately for my hammer and I, this is not as Biblical a notion as I first thought.

The Bible discusses the idea of harboring wealth in a parable about a man who built barns to house his great amount of crops (see Luke 12:13-21). He kept his crops selfishly to himself, eagerly anticipating the day on which he would have the privilege of enjoying their leisure. On the eve of his enjoyment, he passed away, leaving behind a life’s work that benefited no one.

To be clear, the parable isn’t indicating that saving for retirement or college or a child’s wedding is a poor idea. Rather it highlights that saving for saving’s sake isn’t a worthwhile goal. The man in the parable was not saving for preparedness, he was saving for leisure, forsaking charity, God, and personal relationships in the process.

If I had to guess, I would say that the man in the parable traded his happiness in for a price, promising himself that he would have time to enjoy and worship and serve after he had saved all he wanted. He allowed himself to acquired spiritual debt rather than financial debt, and eventually robbed himself of both his financial and spiritual potential.

At first glance, I wrote this man off as a fool; a case that doesn’t occur with the modern financial crisis at our doorsteps. “Too much saving?” I asked myself, curious about how there could be such a thing. When I read over the parable again, I started noticing all of the important pieces of the man’s life that weren’t being tended to, and I found a parallel that I missed.

I am the rich young fool.

I worked a job that I disliked, was slowly sapping the life from my marriage, had overtaken my spiritual life, and caused me to interact with friends and strangers in a distinctly cynical and negative way. I blamed many factors, without ever putting my finger on the one that was actually causing the problem. I was so enthralled with the idea of saving for the future while I still had the chance that I neglected to remember that there are other debts that need to be paid as well. My marriage needed a deposit, my relationship with God needed my time in order to flourish. In the midst of building barns, I neglected the life that I had in order to prepare for the one that I could see in the distance. I treated each day as a stepping stone toward the greater goal, rather than the precious gift that it was.

Recently, I quit my respectable and well paying full time job, to chase a career that I had always been passionate for. I started paying the debts I had accrued in other areas; I made time for my husband, I found a peer group at church, I became a better friend. The simple act of focusing on living rather than solely on saving allowed me to find peace and balance.

Time is a commodity far more precious than money, and those around us crave our time much more than our financial offerings. While money can be earned, time is something that there never seems to be enough of. Don’t let your desire for financial security squelch your desire to live the life that God gave you, to the fullness of every passing second.

Comments

  1. says

    Riata, between this post and Craig’s post a couple weeks ago about rethinking the emergency fund, God’s been challenging my understanding of good stewardship. It seems there’s a difference between that and good *Biblical* stewardship.

    Thanks for the thought-provoking message!

    -jason

  2. says

    Jason,

    Thank you so much for your encouraging comment! The distinction between stewardship as I understood it and the stewardship the Bible teaches took me by surprise as well. God always finds just the right way to remind me who is in control. I very much appreciate your kind words!

  3. Wes says

    Thank you for the insights into Barn building. I appreciate hearing about your experience working in a job you did not like. This is a great example for young adults and teenagers who are choosing their career.

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