At Work & Theology 101

Big Discoveries from Little Money

LinkedIn Email Print

Life and labor for Jesus’ faithful workers includes little big things. Little habits, both good and bad, can make or break us. A little faith like a mustard seed can move mountains. And we dare not miss the potential influence a little money can have in our personal formation. 

In Work: The Meaning of Your Life, Lester DeKoster observed: “Whatever work we do puts ourselves into the service of others and at the same time sculpts the kind of self each is becoming. No matter what our work is.” Whether our work yields a lot or a little, economic circumstances provide prime ground for personal growth, the vital sculpting of self.

Economic Discontent

Both U.S. and global news outlets regularly spotlight economic trends. High interest rates create angst about credit cards, mortgages, and all manner of debt. As prices rise, consumers feel anxious about not making enough and get caught in the endless tug of “never enough.” There is always that neighbor with a much nicer car or the coworker who takes several extra-exotic vacations. We can easily grow green with envy or discontent over our own current economic condition.

As leaders who grow more devoted in following Jesus, we are moved by the high calling of deeper heart tugs. We sense the impetus to be more generous, willing to share, and ready to give graciously. Such motivation is wholly good and vital for sculpting lives of holy stewardship. But even these noble stirrings can catalyze inordinate angst and serious tension in our souls.

Richer Discoveries About Little Money

Consider wisdom in Psalm 37. This engaging psalm is known as a didactic psalm. Such psalms were crafted to help faithful people skillfully navigate a variety of life challenges and gain acumen for winsomely choosing God’s paths. Psalm 37:16-17 says: Better the little that the righteous have than the wealth of many wicked; for the power of the wicked will be broken, but the Lord upholds the righteous.

Financial turmoil can arise if we fixate on evil people who appear very powerful and successful. We might see wealthy, rascally people, and easily get allured by what they’ve accomplished, their apparent success and what they possess. It’s the tricksy razzle-dazzle of arrogant, self-centered over-achievers. We are tempted to think, “Ah, that’s real success; that’s blessed living!”

God’s wisdom in Psalm 37 paints a truer picture. We get the bigger story and God’s long-range view. Self-consumed, evil people will have their day when it all comes crashing in. Such demise might not happen on your watch. But someday, they will break.

Notice the personal encouragement: “The LORD upholds the righteous.” When you are grace-based and faithful—loving and serving God, loving and serving others—the LORD upholds you. This means he sustains you and will never forsake you!

Such wisdom correlates with this admonition in Hebrews 13:5: “Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, ‘Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.'”

Every hard-working, make-more-happen leader knows the frustration of falling on lean times. Our tough seasons when facing limited resources can marvelously deliver a hidden blessing. R. Paul Stevens and Alvin Ung urge us: “Experience deep contentment. We know that we are nothing without God; we acknowledge that everything we have belongs to God, including the struggles of life.” 

During such thin, hungry, needy circumstances, we can develop more confident contentment and holy expectation. In fact, it’s right here where our trust can grow.

Scarcity Mentality

Beware. There’s another side to the “little money” coin. It’s tempting to have a never-ending scarcity mentality, the kind that hampers healthy risk-taking. We delay working with what we’ve got, those good gifts God has already given us. Or we delay giving generously the little bit we could faithfully give. 

Our faulty line of reasoning runs like this: “Someday, once I . . .” Once I land the better job; once I’ve got a better emergency fund; once I’ve paid off all my debt; once I’ve squirreled away a million . . . then I’ll be ready to really leverage my resources, use money wisely, take bold risks, and give generously. I need just a little more.

You might not say any of this aloud, but many people think and operate with a “someday, once I” scarcity mentality. 

Ponder the Penny & Trust Your Father More

With proper perspective, a little money makes room for our trust to grow. When is the last time you pondered that penny in your pocket or the grimy, sticky one in your workplace parking lot? I readily see them lying around, and I’ve learned to chuckle. Look again to see what it says in tiny print. “In God we trust.” How funny, really, that our smallest coin in circulation reminds us of such a big truth. 

The Lord grows our confidence, contentment, and capacity as we faithfully steward the little things he entrusts to our care.

Proverbs 15:16-17 says, “Better a little with the fear of the Lord than great wealth with turmoil. Better a small serving of vegetables with love than a fattened calf with hatred.”

Ever known someone who took a job that promised to pay an enormous sum of money? Initially, she or he was giddy but soon discovered the true work culture. Riddled with conflict, dysfunction, or ugly toxicity, the person suddenly said, “They couldn’t pay me enough to keep working there.”

Proverbs 16:8 (NLT) supplies similar insight. It says, “Better to have little, with godliness, than to be rich and dishonest.”

Marinate your heart, mind, and soul in such wisdom. Truly buy this insight, and it starts to reshape your values and habits. Let it shape the kind of career you pursue, how you serve coworkers and employees, and how you aim to bless business clients. 

God’s wisdom sculpts how you view and pursue your overall work and generosity, even with just a little money.

Further readings on At Work & Theology 101

  • At Work
  • Theology 101
Truth, Love & the Golden Rule

By: Russell Gehrlein

4 minute read

Editor’s note: Russell Gehrlein was a special guest on the syndicated radio program The Plumb Line, hosted by Jay Rudolph, on…

  • At Work
  • Theology 101
Understanding Truth at Work Through Scripture

By: Russell Gehrlein

4 minute read

Editor’s note: Russell Gehrlein was a special guest on the syndicated radio program The Plumb Line, hosted by Jay Rudolph, on…