This is the second part in a two-part editorial. Find part one here.
The concept of the ‘American Dream’ began in the early to mid twentieth century when marketing was at a high. Advertising firms worked effortlessly to persuade people into buying things. They created the picture perfect American family, with a Volkswagen in the driveway, dad in a fancy suit and mom in the kitchen with the latest Kitchen Aid product. Even though we have stretched and revamped that American Dream, it is still driven by what we can have or obtain that will make us happy and successful.
So, if our society is aware of the negative connotations of obsession with money and materialistic goods, why does it continue? James 4:1-3 says, “What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you? You desire but do not have, so you kill. You covet but you cannot get what you want, so you quarrel and fight. You do not have because you do not ask God. When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.”
In Mark 8:36 (NLT), Jesus said “And What do you benefit if you gain the whole world but lose your own soul?” This is a very powerful verse, especially in today’s world. In a world that tells us we need this to be happy or to be somebody, we often forget what is really important. If we are living a Christ centered life, our motivator should be the Kingdom of God. We are called to love the ‘least of these,’ those who do not have a high worldly status. Jesus did not spend his time teaching and hanging out with the rich and the leaders (people who would be considered of high status today). He was with the poor and the broken, the drunks and the oppressed.
Success in America is a hard thing not to strive for, and in today’s society it has a lot to do with money. But success is what you make it. As Christians, we do not have to abide by the standards of this world. We can create our own success through Christ and the Kingdom of God by living out His will for our lives.
Did you know that you can measure your slavery footprint? The way you live, the energy you use, the things you buy, the money you spend–it all impacts other people’s lives. Slaveryfootprint.org says, “That smart phone. That t-shirt, computer, cup of coffee…That’s stuff we buy, and that’s stuff that comes from slaves . . . These reputable brands that we know and love, they just don’t know where all the materials come from. What about the cotton in that t-shirt? The tantalum in that smart phone? The beans in that cup of Joe? That’s where you find the slaves. In the fields. In the mines. In the raw materials processing.”
In an article from clickz.com, Christine Bearsell explains, “Most psychologists generally agree on two types of human motivation: intrinsic and extrinsic. We’re either motivated by internal passions, or we’re encouraged by external reward. Generally, theorists suggest that intrinsic motivators should dominate over extrinsic motivators.”
So, what motivates us on a daily basis–If we are going to be honest with ourselves, it is probably not the people in the world who are dying of diseases or dirty water; it does not seem to be the people who are in our city enslaved or broken. If we really reflect on our daily choices (how much we work, how much we spend, etc.), we may discover that we are highly motivated by money . . . even if it is not always what we desire to be motivated by.
The question, ‘is money the biggest motivator in life?’ is one with no right or wrong answer when it comes to the general population. However, there may be an answer in each individual’s life when we look at what each of our daily habits and tendencies are.
Our challenge, as a staff, to you is to consciously let the intrinsic motivators guide you through life. The extrinsic will always exist, and you will always be affected by them more than you would like, but don’t let them overrun your inner passions and beliefs. Have faith that God will take care of you if you live your life for him and constantly aim to make becoming more like him every day your most influential motivator.