Editor's Note: The following is a report on the practical applications of Phil Callaway's book, Make Your Life Rich without Any Money: Stories of Finding Joy in What Really Matters, (Harvest House Publishers, 2009).
Our culture says that the good life comes from what money can buy: like a new car, a bigger house, an exotic trip, the latest clothes, or restaurant meals. But none of that is really necessary to richly enjoy your life. It turns out that the old adage is true - the best things in life are free. You don't need money to enrich your life.
Here's how you can make your life rich without money:
Know the speed limit. The richness of your life is determined not by the time you're given, but by what you choose to do with it. Slow down enough to listen to God's voice so you can focus on what matters most. Make time to rest physically by getting enough sleep, and rest emotionally by choosing to trust God in every situation rather than worrying. Base your priorities on God's purposes for your life, and base your schedule around your priorities to cut down on unnecessary busyness. But keep your schedule flexible enough to be open and available for the divine interruptions that come your way. Live frugally, avoiding debt whenever possible. Enjoy something without owning it, such as by visiting parks often rather than buying a home with a large yard. Save and give as much as you can. Place your ultimate trust in God rather than in money.
Stop spending lots of time and energy consuming (buying goods and services) so you can focus more on contributing (using your talents and skills to make the world a better place). Simplify your life however you can, such as by celebrating a weekly Sabbath day of rest and learning to say "no" to unimportant requests for your time. Enjoy the simple gifts God gives, such as regular playtimes with children and pets.
Hit curveballs. The richness of your life is determined not by what life brings you, but by what you bring to it, and not by what happens to you, but by how you respond to what happens. So when you encounter unexpected challenges (like losing your job or being diagnosed with a serious illness), trust God to help you overcome them. Remember that, no matter what happens to you in this fallen world, there's always something for which you can be thankful - especially God's promise to never leave or forsake you. When you're struggling with a painful situation, invite God to transform it to accomplish a good purpose.
Be a people person. The richness of your life could depend on one simple question: "If I were to lose everything, what would I have left?" The answer: relationships - with God and other people. Since people are eternal and money is temporary, invest well in your relationships. Work on becoming a good friend by: accepting people, listening well, keeping confidential information private, telling your friends the truth in love and letting them do that same with you, forgiving people, looking to God to meet your needs rather than putting pressure on your friends, and being there for people during their crises and struggles.
Work on developing a good marriage by keeping communication lines open, expressing love and respect often, praying together, forgiving each other, making time for romance regularly, listening to each other well, being kind and gentle toward each other, and remaining committed during tough times.
Know where the buck stops. The richness of your life is determined not by what you have, but by what has you. So build your life around God instead of money. Pursue God's purposes for your life rather than chasing after money. Pray for the ability to be content with any financial state. Rejoice that you can enjoy God's grace anytime, for free. Keep in mind the limits to what money can and can't buy: nice houses, but not a home; a fancy bed, but not a peaceful sleep; companions, but not friends; food, but not satisfaction; sex, but not love; new cars, but not safety; pills, but not health; fun, but not fulfillment; sun-filled vacations, but not peace.
Remember that everything you own has been entrusted to you by God for a purpose. Discover those purposes and use your financial resources to fulfill them. Be willing to give money away however God leads you to use it to express His love by helping others in need.
Leave the right stuff behind. The measure of people's true wealth is not in what they keep, but in what they gave; and not in what they made, but in what they left. There is no legacy as rich and powerful as a godly example. When you die, you can't take any money with you. But while you're still alive, you create a faithful legacy that will remain on Earth after you've gone. Be graceful to people and willing to forgive them when they hurt or offend you. Encourage people whenever you can. Ask God to give you peace and strength to endure challenges faithfully, so people who are watching you can see a good example of how to trust God.
Talk often about how God is at work in your life. Build friendships with non-Christians and share the Gospel's message with them. Develop strong character that will lead to a good reputation.
Have the last laugh. People who are truly rich find no lasting pleasure in that which fades away, but in bringing purpose and hope to others, and setting their sights on eternity. They don't waste time chasing what isn't important and what won't last. Instead, they pursue eternal values and find real hope, peace, and joy in the process.
February 11, 2010
Adapted from Make Your Life Rich without Any Money: Stories of Finding Joy in What Really Matters, copyright 2009 by Phil Callaway. Published by Harvest House Publishers, Eugene, Or., www.harvesthousepublishers.com.
Phil Callaway is an award-winning columnist and a popular speaker at conferences, churches, camps, and Promise Keeper events. He is the author of several books, including Making Life Rich without Any Money and I Used to Have Answers, Now I Have Kids. Phil is married to his high-school sweetheart, Ramona.