Paying bills as a spiritual exercise; day 12 of Ramadan

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They say that the only certainties in this life are death and taxes, yesterday was a case of the latter. June’s wrapping up and with that I need to be financially responsible to several companies as well as to my landlord by way of paying bills.

I can’t complain about my bills, for they help to put a roof over my head and allow me to keep in contact with other people and to also help keep me in shape. As I was paying my bills I remembered a bible verse found in James 1:17, and it says this; “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above.” Now I don’t know why I found myself thinking about this verse except perhaps because I have a job that pays me money, not a lot but I am able to stay afloat and from a global perspective I am doing quite well.
The money I receive helps to keep my car running, puts food on my table, allows me to go to events, and it also allows me to pay my bills. I don’t mind paying my bills because it is a spiritual exercise, and if you don’t believe me I urge you to give some thought about what paying bills accomplishes in your own life, perhaps they’re the same or similar to my own.

It’s good to pay bills even if they appear to be daunting and I know full well what it’s like to barely make ends meet. It really can be a trying time in one’s life when money is hard to come by and when bills seem to keep coming in or they are in fact coming in.  And yet if you think about it, when bills are paid you can breathe a little easier and you can also thank God! You can also be mindful of where you’re at in life; that you’re alive, that you’re still breathing, that you’re still going, you’re still making it even if not by much.

So with all that being said, paying bills were my keywords on the 12th day of Ramadan. Thanks be to God, The Great Provider, who helps us and takes care of us and provides for us. May we in turn offer up what we have to those who are in need, so that we too can help others and take care of others and provide for others.

Salaam alaikum be yours now and always,
Nathanael

Living wages; a bit of a rant

I am more than slightly fed up with the cut-throat rat race of pursuing jobs in my field. It seems at times that there’s adequate work, a lot of people vying for those positions, but when it comes down to what the demands of the job it certainly doesn’t reflect “competitive wages” but rather the same or slightly above the minimum wage.
I was thinking about this the other day, that a lot of companies seem hard-pressed in making a lot of money, but unfortunately the people who help companies get there financially hardly see a payout for what they’ve done. Living wages can benefit everyone in the company, not solely the top people in a business, and I got to thinking about the business model I would cultivate if I had my own business.

If I had my own business, I would provide everyone with living wages! Everyone benefits from it, but granted ego and pride make some people think they’re worth more.
Yet if this were the case I would give them room to demonstrate their worth, but on the condition that their pay would go up if they could deliver, if not they’d have to pay back the difference to whatever their wages was prior. I’m not a business man, I don’t know how to quantify someone’s worth but if it improved the business, and subsequently the business of that individual’s
coworkers…why not pay them more, why not pay them what they’re worth.

***

Yet I don’t see that happening, I see greed in the profit sector as well as the non-for-profit. It gets frustrating at times because I know that my education background, my experience, what I am capable of, my worth (money-wise) should be evidence to support why I should be paid at a higher level. Then there’s the factor of how someday I want to have a wife and kids; I want to provide for them and give them a bit more than a roof over their heads and food on the table. But I’m realizing how many companies aim to keep me semi-financially afloat as a single man, but at the same time don’t weigh in my I should be paid for what I am capable of, actual living wages.
Yes I might strike a chord of entitlement and arrogance, or that I might just be money hungry, but I assure it’s not like that at all. I just want to be paid what I am worth, is that too much ask?

So I guess I leave this up to you the reader; what are your thoughts about living wages? Are there any downsides I am not factoring in?

~Nathanael~

Money ≠ Time – insights from doing youth ministry with the upper middle class

Disclaimer: I don’t know all the ins and outs with youth ministry completely , and I don’t aim to use my 9 years of helping out in various ministries as a reason to be heard, but what I have learned over the years I feel it doesn’t do much good to keep to myself and so I’ll write what I know and leave it up to you to receive or reject.

***

When I first started helping out with youth ministry 9 years ago I didn’t know much except for the location and to some degree the socioeconomic climate of the church I was involved with. I started off working with junior highers who came primarily from family of means, if they wanted something they could probably receive it, but the way that they were able to receive such lavish came from parents who worked a lot. A. Lot.

So when I had time apart from our usual Sunday mornings and nights I got to invest time in some guys who were similar to me (in hindsight, I think I was right to do this, but I should have been more inclusive). Not all the guys I invested in came from intact families, the rift divorce causes sure is a painful one, and I “got it” as I got to know them on a deeper level and they got to know me.

With the rift of divorce in some of these guy’s lives, time spent with one and/or both parents was stretched even more so, and in these times some of the guys were given material goods…but I gathered that these guys would much rather have the time invested in them rather the time spent to afford them such material goods.

I find it sad and even tragic into the limiting view of Time = Money; certainly when it comes to jobs that pay financially we are able to afford most of what we need, but money shouldn’t be our drive so as to work long hours, because that can only last for so long and it becomes an unhealthy exercise wheel, a pattern that isn’t healthy. But it doesn’t stop there, working with intention to make as much money as possible has the risk of affecting others; our significant others, our children, our parents, et al.

***

I don’t think money is the root of all evil, but the way your time is spent, and even more to the point, “where your heart is treasure/wealth is, there your heart will be also” – Matthew 6:21. Matthew “got it”, that where we put our first (and sometimes all) our treasure, whether that’s in the time spent in the office working long hours with the premeditated intention to buy into the hype of “you need _________” or whether it is time invested in what truly matters… Yes, work is important, but one needs to weigh the consequences of working, and some of the things I think about in regards to work are as follows:

1) Am I making a difference?
2) Am I doing something that honors God?
3) Am I doing something that honors others?
4) Am I enjoying what I do?
5) Am I being a good steward of my time spent working?
6) Am I being a good steward of the money I from working?

These are questions that constantly buzz my mind when I am working, and to be honest, I am not there yet with all of them, the puzzle pieces are laid out and it’s time to put it together.

***

“Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart as working for the Lord, and not for men, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.” – Colossians 3:23-24 (I underlined for emphasis)

With that in mind, work as if you were working for God. Take time to talk to him about the tasks set before you and honor him with your wealth.

Time as you know is quickly ticking away, but I believe that time invested in what truly matters is definitely the way to approach things, to question what matters and seek out ways to pursue those things, but remember this; time invested trumps time spent.

In conclusion, the time you’ve been given is all you have, make the most of it and remember that while in someways time =’s money, that time cannot ever be bought back, therefore money ≠ time.

~Nathanael~