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April 2009 - INSIDE THIS ISSUE. . .
1. Recessions are Both Financial and Psychological Click
2. 5 Things Your Church Can Do to Fight the Recession Click
3. About VanderWyden Consultants, Inc. Click
4. Subscribe / Unsubscribe Instructions Click
Easter Greetings! We are about to celebrate the culmination of the Christian year. In Easter we celebrate the triumph of life over death, of love over hate, of hope over gloom, of faith over fear.
Especially in these very trying times we need the message of Easter. In the midst of the global economic crisis sometimes we get lost on our way. Easter reminds us that we are not the people of the empty tomb, of the stock market, of the Dow Jones, of the S&P 500, of NASDAQ, or of the GNP. We are the people of a risen Savior, who sacrificed his life to show us the lengths God will go to let us know that we are loved and to give us the promise of life eternal. We are people called to live a different way of life than those who choose money over God, hate over love, greed over generosity, and fear over faith.
Sometimes in the midst of uncertain economic times, when the future is unclear, we may succumb to worry and fear. But Jesus calls us to a different view, to put faith in front of our fear: "Do not worry about your life, what you will eat, or what you will wear. Life is more than food and the body is more than clothing... do not store up treasure where moth and rust can destroy and where thieves can break in and steal, but seek the realm of God, and all these things will be provided for you." In the stampede toward accumulating more possessions that led up to the present economic meltdown many forgot these often too familiar words.
Sometimes in the midst of this crisis, we are tempted to focus on our own problems and to forget that others are suffering too. Yet our faith reminds us to share our struggles, to be thankful in all circumstances, and to always be hopeful and faithful. The Bible is a compendium of stories of people who lived through tough times and who got through those times because they kept their hope and faith in God. In this week leading up to Easter, we are reminded that Jesus' followers had much reason to lose hope and to get lost on their way. When they felt all was lost, along came Easter to remind them and us, that God loves us, that God knows our needs, and that hope will prevail over fear, worry, and doom and gloom. We hope all of our loyal readers will have a most hopeful, and Happy Easter!
In this Easter edition of Wyden Your Horizons, we provide insight into
how Recessions are both Financial and Psychological and that the
ultimate solution to such situations must be psychological. We also provide
suggestions for "5 Things Your Church Can Do to Fight the Recession."
Our world is struggling to do with less. Much of the financial dimension of this recession has to do with the fact that investments are worth less than they were when the recession started. Many look at their stock market balances and note that they have less money on paper than they had a few months ago. For some who live off the income from their investments, living with less means a different way of life and a different lifestyle. Those who had done well in their investments up until this point, having less may mean giving up that second home, buying less expensive cars, or taking less expensive vacations. For others having less has more dire results in that it means loss of a job, of a house, or money that they hoped to spend for college educations.
A lot of the cause of the present global financial readjustment was the worldwide stampede to accumulate more stuff.
A house is just a pile of stuff with a cover on it. You can see that when you're taking off in an airplane. You look down, you see everybody's got a little pile of stuff. All the little piles of stuff…And when you leave your house, you gotta lock it up. Wouldn't want somebody to come by and take some of your stuff. …Sometimes you gotta move, gotta get a bigger house. Why? No room for your stuff anymore… George Carlin
As millions around the world collected more “stuff” they had to build bigger and bigger homes, and banks developed leveraging and other tactics to enable more individuals to own homes and other possessions that they really couldn’t afford, and individuals took on huge amounts of unsupportable debt, and when that debt was unable to be serviced, the world economy melted down.
In Thomas Friedman's recent bestseller, "Hot, Flat and Crowded" he coins the term "Americums", to identify the millions around the world who have gotten caught up in striving to obtain the American lifestyle. In developing countries around the world, millions now dream that with capitalism, if they work hard they might obtain the possessions that make for the American lifestyle.
Many of the economies of the world's developed countries and emerging national economies have been built on rampant consumerism, where media entices individuals to covet material possessions, and to strive to own more and more. This focus on materialism fans the flames of the mistaken belief that possessions can provide happiness. This misunderstanding of the source of happiness has caused millions around the world to succumb to the disease of “Affluenza.” The epidemic of Affluenza has now spread world-wide where millions have succumbed to temptation to believe that if they can only become Americums and have all the stuff that Americans have, that this “stuff” will bring them happiness. The world has now been infected with the horrific disease.
The term "Affluenza" was coined in 1998, in a PBS television show of the same name. In the television show, Affluenza was defined as: “1. The bloated, sluggish and unfulfilled feeling that results from efforts to keep up with the Joneses. 2. An epidemic of stress, overwork, waste and indebtedness caused by dogged pursuit of the American Dream. 3. An unsustainable addiction to economic growth.”
This unsustainable addiction to economic growth hit the wall in 2008. But many just hope that when things "return to normal" they can go back to spending, buying, and hoarding as they did before this recession. Unfortunately the earth cannot support millions of people living the American lifestyle. Americans comprise about 5% of the world's population, but they consume about 25% of the world's resources. With millions more around the world striving to become Americums the world's natural resources will be depleted very quickly.
One root cause of the psychological dimension of a recession is the inability to understand what enough is. Some subscribe compulsively to the wisdom of saving for a rainy day. So they put money aside year after year, saving for a rainy day, and some have accumulated enough for Noah's time and they still don't think they have enough! When the value of their investments drops dramatically, they are filled with fear, anxiety, and worry. They have placed their trust in the false God of money, and like all false Gods, money will always disappoint you. Others have so bought into this false God that now, in these times, they are so worried that they will not have enough for themselves that they are consumed with hoarding, not spending, and in many cases postponing living. For many fear is now feeding on fear, as they hoard what they have, and gauge their future by each new dip or rise in the stock market.
The problem of this recession is not a lack of money. It's a lack of understanding of what is enough to provide for happy lives.. Many Americans now have garages that are as big as middle-class homes were in the 1950s, and we own more extravagances, and take more expensive vacations now. Yet in the Affluenza television show when they did a study of years when Americans were most happy, they found that the year was 1957.
In every problem there is an opportunity. This time of learning to live with less money may be a time to re-identify that God is the source of all that we have. As we learn to live with less, we may find that we can still be happy with far less of the stuff that we had thought we needed. As we adapt to living with less, we have the opportunity to simplify our lives and to realize that God provides plenty of the things that make for happy lives. Living with less expensive activities and distractions gives us time to reflect on what is truly important, to re-evaluate our priorities, to re-focus our lives, to simplify our lives, and to devote our time and energies to the things that are meaningful and lasting -- spending time with loved ones and dear friends, spending time with God reflecting on the calls that God puts before us to use our skills to make the world better, and to giving generously to causes that help others and that improve the world.
Some advocate spending to bring us out of this recession. But that attitude just resorts to curing the recession by reverting to aiming to have more money and to possess more things, which perpetuates the disease of Affluenza. That misguided strategy suggests that the recession will be over when the Gross National Product of America, the world's largest economy, begins to grow again, and when Americans return to spending as they did before. But the Psychological cure for dealing with a recession must correspond to the cause of the disease.
I suggest that the cure for Affluenza and for this recession is giving more generously, rather than spending more vigorously. Generosity is the cure for Affluenza and for the disparity of the distribution of the world's resources. Generosity of giving of our time to help others and to performing spontaneous acts of generosity to bring a smile to a stranger's face. Or, if you have more money than most, the cure may be found in contributing generously to social service agencies or to churches, or it may mean spending some of that wealth to help others by buying a car, and giving that car to someone who needs a car to look for a job. Or if you are among the very wealthy, it may mean buying a home that is about to be foreclosed on, and giving the home back to the those who have lived there. This may sound like a very radical idea, and may seem totally impractical to many. But it is no more radical than the idea of freedom and pursuit of happiness on which America was founded.
The present financial recession is a manifestation of the fact that millions around the world got lost as they pursued happiness. To get past the fear feeding on fear, and the compulsion to possess more and more, we have to change our course. We have to find our way back to fruitful and meaningful lives, and away from money focused lives. We have to reject the notion that the measure of a life is not how money-full it is, but rather how meaningful it is. We have to realize that the quality of our lives is not a function of the quantity of stuff that we have.
This period in history is truly a watershed moment, when the world has to decide which way it will go, whether the future will lead to exhausting the world's resources, which will lead to some having a lot and millions going without. Or whether we will create a new paradigm where the health of a society is not measured by its GNP, but by its GJQ: the Generosity Joy Quotient. When individuals and nations realize that true happiness and meaningful lives are obtained through generosity, then the GJQ increases exponentially. This psychological adjustment will also cure the financial dimension of this recession and offers the opportunity to head off recessions yet to come.
"We are happy in proportion to the things we can do without... Most of the
luxuries, and many of the so-called comforts of life, are not only not
indispensable, but positive hindrances to the elevation of humankind." Henry
I believe that a simple and unassuming manner of life is best for everyone,
best both for the body and the mind. Albert Einstein
1. Ask people to give -
2. Be a Beacon of Hope
3. Minister to Those in Need in Your Community
4, Study Scripture on Faith and Hope
5. Conduct a Capital Fund Campaign
All wealth does not disappear in recessions. In fact, we find that when churches make a convincing case for the need to renovate their facilities to meet the needs of their communities, that even in the midst of recessions, the funds are provided. Invariably faith-raising Capital Fund Campaigns are inspiring unifying events for Congregations. Growing churches realize that they need to conduct Capital Fund Campaigns at least every 10 years to keep their facilities up to date to meet the changing needs of their members and their communities.
Not only can a Capital Fund Campaign campaign raise funds to enable a church
to renovate its facilities, it can also provide the opportunity for
employment for construction workers and many others, and can serve as an
inspiration to the community of the generosity of Christians in tough
financial times. Top
Or if you would like to explore how our services may help you to meet your needs, don't hesitate to call us through our toll-free number (888 -245-5826) for a no obligation free consultation.
Our staff has conducted over 350 successful campaigns throughout the United States. Our "Joy of Generosity" Capital Fund Campaign program enables churches to raise as much as 13 times existing giving levels, and our "Wyden Your Horizons" Operating Budget Stewardship program results in increases of 15 - 45%.
All ideas and commentaries in Wyden Your Horizons are copyrighted.
Quotations may be freely used when the source is cited. Top
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Rev. P. William VanderWyden, CFRE
President VanderWyden Consultants, Inc.
Headquarters -118 Westchester Drive, Amherst, Ohio 44001
Toll-Free Phone: 888-245-5826 (888-Bill-Van)
E-mail: Bill@WydenYourHorizons. com
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