the space between too much, and not enough

A thought occurred to me this morning about what my financial situation has looked like since I began offering an annual pledge to my church: in that time, I have always had enough left for my own needs, but never so much money left over that I didn’t know what to do with it.

I think this is a very healthy space, and has helped me to feel a pretty good sense of balance in my life.  Until today, I’m not sure I realized this was happening.

As for always having enough:  since I began giving proportionally years ago, I have never found myself without enough to get by and indeed have a pretty good life. Sure, I’ve worried about money from time to time just as much as anyone, but after I got over the worry I saw that there really was always enough.

On the other side of the equation, there’s the trickier question of “how much is too much?” We all have to answer what this looks like for ourselves, but I do think that there is a level of means that is far more than we need, and often surfaces through patterns that resemble the “storing up” and over-consumption that our tradition warns us about.

Don’t get me wrong: I would love to have a little bit too much money. Oh, I think I could find some very happy places to spend that.  But giving proportionally, besides doing all the great things like building up the church and strengthening my spirit, keeps me from making over-consumption a habit.

So pledging is extra valuable to me because it keeps me in that healthy, productive space between “not enough” and “too much.”  I have what I need, I continue to cultivate a healthy approach to money, and I help to build up the Kingdom of God. Sure, there are other factors in play here: I have a good job, supportive family systems, and some good habits to start off with. And I don’t mean to suggest that pledging makes financial problems go away.

But I do notice that giving proportionally appears, for me, to be something of a linchpin that keeps my spiritual life and my household budget in healthy conversation with one another.

About bernardowens

I'm an Episcopal priest in Cleveland, Ohio.
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