A few years ago, I started raising chickens. There’s nothing like an omelet made with a freshly laid egg. I am a sucker for new hobbies, especially ones I can break even with. Besides, the chickens have been a great way to teach my kids work ethic and they are entertaining. Until this week.
After returning from a week-long absence, I found my entire tomato crop decimated. Those rascally chickens had found their way over (or under) our fence, into my garden and ate nearly every green tomato off the vines. Fresh garden tomatoes are the highlight of my summer. I’m livid with my poultry!
Truth is, it’s my fault. I wanted a garden full of fresh tomatoes and I wanted chickens laying eggs in my back yard. While I pursued both these interests simultaneously, I didn’t take the time to do what was necessary to keep them both viable—create boundaries.
You Can’t Have It All
The American dream has morphed from a 1-acre lot and a picket fence to being the hottest, fittest, best dressed, high-powered career, most loving parent, child, grandparent all while spending plenty of time on leisure and hobbies without stress. American culture wants you to believe you can have it all.
Maybe, like me, you’ve had the experience of trying to have it all. It feels like walking down a forked road with a foot on each path. It works for a little bit, until you do the splits! (which for me is quite painful, if not impossible).
The truth is we simply can’t have it all. Life is full of trade-offs. If you want six-pack abs, you’re going to need to be in the gym daily and eat carefully. This is time not spent eating ice cream with your family.
If you want to make a million dollars, you’re going to have to find ways to maximize your income for your time. This is time not spent volunteering, engaging in leisure or pursuing hobbies.
Neither of these trade-offs are necessarily bad, but I find myself too often trying to pursue multiple goals “all-in” instead of taking a moment to create some boundaries between competing priorities. Just like I could have spent some time raising my chicken’s fence (did you know chickens can fly?), clipping their wings or fencing my garden. We need to spend time deciding how far we’re willing to take one goal before it destroys another.
But You Can Have Some of Everything
The decision of how to allocate our money and time isn’t binary. The question isn’t “can you have it all” it’s “how much should we put in our life?”
We don’t have to decide between being a meat head and a couch potato. But we do need to decide how far we’re willing to pursue each goal. I’m a fairly intense person. I like to be all-in, so I struggle with decisions of degrees as opposed to flips of the switch.
I’ve watched people pursue the “business God gave them”, only to stop going to church. Or people who want to care for a sick parent or child only to lose their own identity and mental health. Some people are so focused on “stewarding” money that they aren’t generous and others are so sacrificial they become martyrs.
God calls us into a mission on a narrow road, but our “well done good and faithful servant” isn’t dependent on the accomplishment of a task. We need to approach our call with balance understanding that knowing and being known by Jesus is the call. We can’t sacrifice life’s call for a temporary mission.
We have to get clear on what’s important and realize that having “it all” means not having something else entirely. I will probably never be a triathlon runner because that takes hours of training each week that I’d rather spend being a good dad or writing for you, my readers. But I can go on a 20-minute run each day. I’ll probably never have a billion-dollar business because I simply can’t take the anxiety or politics of a business that size but I can plink away at a small business that supports my family and maybe eventually a few other people.
Sometimes we look at what other people have and shame ourselves. “Man, why can’t I do that?” “Why am I not there?” more times than not, the reason is because you had boundaries. And often those trade-offs were worth it.
Creating Boundaries with Our Money
God doesn’t call us to a myopic focus. He isn’t asking “Can you have it all” He’s asking “do you have room for me?”. He calls us to wholeness in Him. If anyone could be considered a focused follower of Jesus it was Paul. Yet Paul asks, “What good is it if I gain the whole world but lose my soul?” You can replace ‘whole world’ with your mission and the verse rings true.
“What good is it if I build a huge church but lose my soul?”
“What good is it if I give all my wealth to the poor but lose my soul?”
“What good is it if I raise godly children but lose my soul?”
“What good is it if I live like no one else but lose my soul?”
Answer: No good at all.
We don’t need to accomplish the mission at the expense of our soul. And we shouldn’t build our wealth at the expense of it either. God’s given us the mission to help us find our soul. God asks us to first receive His provision, then to do the good works He prepared in advance for us, and lastly to receive the abundance of His Kingdom. Doing those good works is what helps us be the person God created us to be. It’s the person we are in heaven living on earth. Hallelujah!
Not all good things in our life are “hindrances” that you must “cast-off”. Distractions do exist, but we have to create boundaries in our life so that we don’t accomplish the mission at the expense of our fruit.
Here’s a few ways to create boundaries in your financial life:
- Pretend I’m giving you $10,000. What would you do with that money? Brain storm ideas and write each down, then order them according to priority. What matters most? Second most? Etc.
- Create a Statement of Financial Purpose so you know what you want your money to do for you.
- Set minimums and maximums of work time, giving and spending. For instance, you might say “no matter how much we make we’re only going to spend X each year.” This creates less incentive to over-work or take jobs simply for the money.
- Create Finish Lines. These help you realize when you’re over-saving and potentially under-giving.
I’ve spent a lot of my life worried about making the “right” decision. What does God want me to do? The Bible talks a lot more about who we know and what we become than it does about what I do. Jesus was never worried about man’s actions. He was curious if they would draw near to Him.
I don’t want the pursuit of a mission or “holiness” with my money to get in the way of knowing and being known by Jesus. The mission is a means to experience the person God created us as, not a pass/fail assignment. Create some boundaries in your life so that your
chickens money decisions don’t steal your fruit.
What do you think? Can you have it all? Drop me a line and let me know.