I recently experienced an emotional response that surprised me.
I met someone at a church event and then later that day ended up at his home. He and I were similar in age, but when I got to his house I had a ‘wow’ moment. The home was large and modern. The cars out front were top model luxury vehicles.
Let’s just say that there would be a lot of space for coveting if that were my type of thing. Fortunately, I’m easily satisfied and I don’t often even have a desire to have a bigger home or newer cars. I’m content to drive around our 10 year old cars.
That’s why I was surprised by the first thought that entered my mind when I pulled up to the house.
I thought to myself … I had no idea that this guy was so ‘special’. Despite the temptation to do otherwise, I was able to work in the question “So, what do you do?”
Perhaps I’m the only person who has ever had this experience.
Isn’t my reaction simply a reminder of how easily wealth, money, and possessions can distract us? I wasn’t impressed by his knowledge of the Bible. I wasn’t in awe of his relationship with his kids. I thought because he knew how to make money and buy nice things he must be someone special.
That’s the lure, isn’t it? Work hard. Earn money, and in this society you get an extra notch on your belt. You’ll get some more. Repeat. You’ll get better treatment.
In America today, the two fastest ways to get to a place where people automatically treat you better is by getting money or getting a gun.
Why do we view people as smarter, or better, or wiser just because they have more material possessions?
Consider our current love affair with celebrity endorsements. LeBron James is a talented basketball player – and he’s got a lot of money. As such, we allow him to be an authority on electronics (Samsung sponsorship), a food quality specialist (McDonald’s sponsorship), and more.
We trust the endorsement of people who are successful in one area of life – even if their endorsement has nothing to do with their expertise.
Another example is the Robertson family. They are traveling all across America speaking at many, many wonderful events. (Honestly, I’m impressed by their stamina). However, are they sought after speakers and presenters because of the quality of their messages or the level of their status and fame?
James tells us that we shouldn’t give preferential treatment to the rich.
Do we? Do I?
Most churches, within my experiences, tend to give leadership positions to successful business personalities. The theory is that if you can manage a business, you can manage the church. Sometimes it’s quite possible that churches need more shepherds and less managers. A church may need a leader who is more comfortable hugging than punching a calculator. The church may need a leader who doesn’t know how to balance a budget.
If a significant contributor to the church has a concern and a small gift giver had a concern, would those concerns be treated with equal diligence and attention?
Think about the boards that run many Christian organizations. I know that all the Christian colleges I attended have board members who made a name for themselves in business.
Perhaps it’s a wise choice. I’m not arguing that those with gifts to administer business don’t have gifts to oversee boards, but are we overlooking qualified people simply because they never made it big in business or never made their mark in their work place?
Are we still just impressed by expensive things and unintentionally giving preference to the rich?
Have you ever experienced yourself being impressed with someone just because of their success in business? Have you ever seen a church give preferential treatment to the rich?