I sincerely hope that one of the good things that we can learn from our recent economic distress is a recommitment to stewardship and charity. There are an increasing number of articles that deal with doing more with less (and gasp!), even self-denial. Self-denial sounds heretical in the Wall Street Journal of all places, doesn’t it? I remain convinced that one of the very best “essential questions” we can plant in our students’ minds for their lifetime is: What is the difference between needs and wants?
One of the joys of Thanksgiving and Christmas is the opportunity for reflection and thoughtful gift giving. I recently was struck by the contrasts presented in two different articles on giving. In a preview blurb about Christian Smith’s new book, Passing the Plate, I read these words: “Far from the 10 percent of one’s income that tithing requires, American Christians’ financial giving typically amounts, by some measures, to less than one percent of annual earnings. And a startling one out of five self-identified Christians gives nothing at all.”
On the other hand I heard myself saying “Oh, cool” when I opened the newspaper (Grand Rapids Press, 12.3.08) to an article about Manny Pacquaio, a boxer and leading light heavyweight contender from the Phillipines, who gives away his prize winnings by distributing food and cash all hours of the day and night outside of his home. After growing up in poverty, Pacquaio, a devout Catholic, states: “The best thing in life is what you can do for other people in this world” and goes on to say: “What I want to teach them is how to pray, to believe in God, to be with God.”
What a privilege to be in jobs where we can teach children the true difference between needs and wants, and train their hearts and minds to respond to a world in need!