A friend via Google+, Daniel Rothamel, shared a pretty nifty article titled, “Why Am I Not Poor?”
While it was not on my radar that January was poverty awareness month, this article is a sharp-toed kick to the tuckus. The reminder is sharp for me, in that, I had held for a long time the idea that when I “make it,” and my family is “secure,” we would then focus ourselves on those less fortunate. I realize that is not the point the author is attempting to make. Rather, the author is attempting to point out just how fortunate we are, living in a first-world country.
For me, that simply drives the point of her sharp-toed kick even deeper.
If I stop to consider my life, as of January 2014, I really have nothing to complain about. Routinely I am able to:
- Eat when I want
- Sleep safely and securely
- Work without fear of my life
- Generally do as I would like and need
My “complaints,” such as they are, amount to a grumbling about my life not being exactly that way I want it to look.
“That guy cut me off.”
“My car is old.”
“I’ve been disrespected.”
My grumblings point out two things about my life. First, I am not in control of all aspects of life. Second, my complaints are not life-threatening, rather grumblings of convenience.
If I can not control all aspects of my life, if I am not responsible for being born into a first-world country, how is it that my life is so rich? What have I done to create, earn, or deserve this life, while other fellow humans live in circumstances that are radically different?
John Bradford stated during his imprisonment, while seeing other prisoners being led to to execution, “There, but for the grace of God, goes John Bradford.”
But Not Now!
So, having begun to come to grips with the fact that there is little I could, or can, do to change the station of life I have been born into, I need to also respond accordingly with what I have been given.
Too often, I have “promised” myself that when I was “this” successful, had saved “that” much money, or was in a “better” place in life, that I would then address those around me not as fortunate. Pardon me, but that is a hideous lie that I have bought for too long.
It is no lie that humans were built to work. Unfortunately, many of us have made work our god. We bow at the altars of busy-ness, productivity, and ROI. We even have a syndrome for those of us that work hard and work alot: workaholism.
[I am raising my hand here.]
All of this busy-ness keeps us preoccupied on pushing forward, making the deadline, selling product, and focusing on the bottom line to our lives. Many of us become so preoccupied with work, we neglect our families, our friends and the important things in life. Contrasted against what others do not possess, can not begin to possess or struggle to obtain, my response necessarily needs to include the ability to use my resources for the benefit of others.
And use them NOW.
Not later. Not when it is convenient for me and my family. But now!
Yep, I’m going there.
We have become so enraptured with busy-ness, with getting and with gaining, that we have become extremely comfortable in pushing ourselves. Well, at least in some of the business circles I am fortunate to participate, I suppose. Popular business advice these days is to embrace change. To push the envelope of your comfort zone for personal and business growth.
It is not comfortable to use our comparatively immense wealth of resources now, for someone else’s benefit. I would much rather wait till I am safe and secure, before I extend myself. It takes thought, planning and execution to extend ourselves outside of that with which we have become comfortable.
In late 2012, I was reading an excellent book, Unstoppable Force by Erwin McManus, and was inspired to write about survival as a supreme goal. From that book:
Once survival becomes our supreme goal, we have lost our way… When a healthy relationship exists within the life cycle, a selflessness of giving oneself away is created. The more one focuses on one’s own living, the less one is concerned about giving life to others.
From that post on November 12, 2012:
How many times have I been more concerned about:
- my next paycheck, but not my unemployed neighbor?
- my next meal, but not the beggar on the street corner?
- what kind of car I drive, but not about the family that needs a ride to the doctor’s office?
What’s intriguing is that this pattern of behavior is not relegated to the spiritual or the spiritually minded. This pattern replicates itself in my business and my industry. Agents concerned with themselves, their next paycheck, their next bill, will often miss the opportunity to work with fantastic clients. I have seen agents drop everything to get a lease together and then blow off, or flat out forget, an appointment with a buyer or seller. The financial difference between a lease and a sale is substantial, but the amount of time to collect the commission is just as different, with leases typically paying out within a matter of a few weeks.
The phrase, stepping over a dollar to pick up a dime, comes to mind.
As I become less focused on my own life, I find that I have the luxury of more time to focus on my wife. More time to focus on my sons and my family… people that are not me. Perhaps as a family, we can become more concerned about those around us than we are enamored with our own lives. I certainly hope so.
The thought in the last paragraph has been expanded recently. My family is working on going when we are called. Not when it is convenient or comfortable for us.