Investment portfolios are down… way down. Depending on the percentage of dollars allocated to stock investments, brokerage accounts, 401k accounts, IRAs, and the lot are down anywhere from 20% to 50% in the last 12 months. Jobs are disappearing as well. In January, the unemployment rate was 7.6 % and it may hit a peak of 10% in 2009.
The wealth affect that drove excessive consumer spending has been replaced with a fear of spending on anything, even on those things that represent our stated higher values. Hoarding has grabbed hold; people are hunkered down to ride out the recession. We feel less wealthy and thereby, less secure. It does not feel like a time to be generous.
If we have less money, are we less wealthy?
That may depend on how we define wealth. Is our definition part of the problem or part of the solution? Wealth is normally defined as having a plentiful supply of material goods and money. This is an economic definition focused on money and things.
We can give wealth another definition that includes those things that could be more valuable to us than money and material stuff. We can see our wealth and our lives as larger than the economy. What wealth do we have that is still with us and that may even grow during a recession?
Do we have our health?
To be physically, emotionally and mentally well is a treasure. Would any of us exchange a healthy blood pressure reading for a designer dress? Or low cholesterol for membership in a golf club? Some people lose their health in gaining a lot of money and things only to spend that money later trying to restore their health.
Do we enjoy loving relationships?
Are we blessed with a marriage that has thrived and is surviving the stress of recession, with children who give us delight, with friends who stay in touch, with church members who reach out and care, with co-workers who appreciate us, or with neighbors who watch out for us? Relational wealth is very valuable in times like these. We can share wealth like this.
Do we have skills, talents or abilities that are uniquely ours?
Would we give up part of our self for just money? Or would we rather enjoy playing music, speaking another language, listening insightfully, painting a landscape, designing a website, decorating a home, running a 10K, playing tennis, writing articles, or building a labyrinth?
Do we have time?
After we eliminate the urgent from our life, we can focus on the important. We can downsize our “screen time” (time in front of a television or computer or cell phone) and go “biggie” size on face time with others. We can increase our wealth of time by resetting our priorities and giving hours in service to others.
Do we have a relationship with God?
In times of recession or other troubles, our faith, our hope, and our love can grow. We make great progress in our spiritual journeys by trusting God daily for what we need. Our true wealth is in knowing God, loving God, and serving others in Jesus’ name.
With God’s wealth affect, we give rather than spend. Now is not the time to spend or to hoard in excess. We have great wealth in our health, relationships, talents, time and faith. Now is the time for God’s wealth affect. Now is the time to give and live generously.