[management by God] greed and desire

Written by Dan King

Christ-follower. husband. father. author of the unlikely missionary: from pew-warmer to poverty-fighter. co-author of activist faith: from him and for him. director of family ministry at st. edward's episcopal church. president of fistbump media, llc.

October 28, 2010

It’s a question the average Christian has been asking since the “American Dream” was first dreamed. American consumerism tells us that we need more, and if we don’t want more, then there must be something wrong with us.

Even the church is split on this issue of “how much money is enough”. On one side, you have the poverty-minded groups that think that money is evil, and that financial poverty is the way to Godliness. Then you have the health-and-wealth gospel folks that believe that if you are not filthy rich, then you must have some sort of sin in your life that’s holding back God’s blessing. I don’t believe that either of these is the truth, and both sides could use a little lesson in proper hermeneutics of the scriptures.

As we look at the fourth qualification for the manager-leader, we come across a requirement to be “not greedy for dishonest gain.” While much can be said about money itself, the point that I will make is that “money” itself isn’t evil, but the “love of money” (or strong desire for) is the root (or start, or feeding point) of evil.

Money is a blessing, and a great tool. We just can’t let it take a position in our life where it controls us. But this qualification isn’t so much about money. Let’s take a look at this qualification in parts…

not greedy
Greed is defined as “excessive or rapacious desire, esp. for wealth or possessions” (view source). Based on this definition, there would be a normal level of desire, and an excessive desire. When it comes to money in general, I believe that there’s a “normal” level of desire that’s okay. It’s okay for me to want to earn more so that I can provide better for my family, and even give more to the church and its causes. But I should not have an “excessive” desire. It should never consume me. When desire for something becomes excessive, it also becomes dangerous. Decisions are made based on what helps us get to the thing that we desire, and not necessarily on what is best for the team, organization, project, or customer. Avoiding “excessive” desire is important for us when making clear decisions.

…what? The point here is that the excessive desire (greed) is actually directed at something. This indicates that the “greed” itself is not even the major issue. It’s what the greed is focused on that is more relevant. I find this interesting, because the executive-leader seems to be held to a higher standard here. There’s much more here that holds the leader more in a position against the greed (or selfish thinking) itself. Maybe the manager-leader isn’t held to as high a standard because of the smaller realm of influence. Maybe the manager-leader is considered more of an executive-leader “in training”. These skills must be mastered before one is expected to master the more demanding skills. So, back to the real question here. What exactly is the focus on here? We are expected to be not greedy for…

dishonest gain
What? You’d imagine that the manager-leader would be held to a high standard here, but “dishonest gain”? Wow…   The standard of the world must be pretty low if the “higher standard” is that we must “rise above” dishonest gain! I guess that the point is that in a leadership role, opportunities will occasionally present themselves where some sort of gain or advantage can be taken because of the position. Practically speaking, a manager gets more keys to the office than the entry-level guy that just started with the company, right? Well greater access must lead to greater temptation, and we must remain honest in whatever gain we get.

So watch yourself.

Don’t take advantage of newfound “advantages”. If I were to add anything to this concept, then I’d say that if you’re to gain or get ahead somehow, then let it be on your own merits rather than the dishonest advantages that you may have access to. Work as if unto the Lord, and let Him shine through your example. Work hard and represent your faith well.

Questions to consider:

  • What do you need to do today to work as unto the Lord?
  • Are you taking advantage of any situations unfairly?
  • Are you justifying things right now in your head as you answer that last question?
  • What other approaches can you take to succeeding that are a better display of your skills?

See more from the management by God series!


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[management by God] greed and desire

by Dan King time to read: 4 min