Posted: Mar 8

Spirituality and Money: Seven Questions that Saved My Spiritual Life

By Bruce Rockwell

dollars.jpgIt was a moment of real spiritual awakening for a guy who had gone to church all his life but never really understood what spiritual health and maturity were all about. 

It happened during the Eucharist at a stewardship conference I was attending. The Gospel had been the story of the Rich Fool, the parable Jesus told about the person whose crops were so abundant that his barns were not large enough to store his harvest, and who was obsessed with building larger barns to hoard the crops.  [Luke 12:13-34]  During the homily, I became aware that the preacher, the late Rev. Dr. Thomas H. Carson, who then served as the Executive for Stewardship of the Episcopal Church, was asking several questions of the congregation.

“Do you ever worry about money? … about having enough? … about keeping what you have?”
“Do you sometimes envy what others have earned, have inherited, or have been able to do because of money they have and you don’t?”
“Do you ever get anxious about what inflation has done to depreciate your savings and your preparation for retirement?”
“Do you ever equate your value as a person with what you earn?”
“Is bill-paying stressful for you?”
“Has money ever been the source of an argument or misunderstanding with a loved one?”
“Do you every spend more time thinking about money in any one day than you do in prayer?”

After posing these questions, Dr. Carson said the following:  “If you have answered ‘yes’ to some of these questions, you may be having an affair with money. And this affair is buying your soul, taking away your freedom, paralyzing your creativity, debilitating your peace of mind, destroying friendships, breaking up your marriage, destroying your freedom in Christ, and threatening your very salvation.”

At that moment I felt as if Dr. Carson was preaching only to me.  I was oblivious to everyone else around me.  I felt as I imagine the woman at the well must have felt when Jesus told her everything she had ever done.  [John 4:4-42]

And then I heard Dr. Carson close the homily very quietly with this last simple sentence:  “Your view of money is the chief spiritual issue of your life.”  And suddenly I knew that this was true for me.

The above is an excerpt from a TENS booklet with the same name, Spirituality and Money: Seven Questions that Saved My Spiritual Life, published by and available through TENS.

I offer these questions to you as a Lenten gift.  You may wish to reflect on the questions Dr. Carson posed

In case you feel that your attitudes about money are a barrier to a full rich spiritual life with God, I encourage you to prayerfully ponder each question and discern what God may be saying to you concerning your attitudes.

  • Which question or questions hit closest to home for you?
  • What memory or incident comes to mind as a result of the question?
  • What might be the next step for you if you really want to overcome your “affair with money?”
  • How will your life be different when you implement these changes?

To read my own personal reflections to each of Dr. Carson’s questions, I invite you to obtain a copy of the booklet through the TENS website.   The booklet also contains a study guide designed for individuals and groups who wish to explore their own attitudes about money and how those attitudes may be a barrier to a full, rich life in God’s household here on earth.

I pray that this Lent will be a time in which each of us finds and is found by God in new and life-giving ways.

Bruce Rockwell serves as Assistant to the Bishop for Stewardship in the Diocese of Western Massachusetts.