Bob Tamasy: Pitfalls Of Prosperity

Monday, July 14, 2014 - by Bob Tamasy
Bob Tamasy
Bob Tamasy

I’m all for prosperity. Somebody once said, “I’ve tried living with money, and I’ve tried living without money. I like living with money better.” I concur with that perspective, although I’ve never pursued wealth and have never achieved it. And I’ve never been as “dead broke” as Hillary Clinton claims to have been.

But prosperity is a peculiar thing. While it’s certainly preferable to the alternative, there rarely seems a moment when we conclude, “That’s good. It’s all I need.” Many people ascribe to the mantra, “Too much is never enough.” Take the mega-million dollar athletes and entertainers, for example. Despite having achieved riches beyond anything people in many of the world’s societies could even dream of, we hear grumbling and complaining as if they’re paupers, anxious to renegotiate compensation as soon as possible.



But there’s another perplexing aspect of prosperity. It’s the tendency to forget our roots, to lose sight of what got us from where we were to where we are now. This is also true spiritually. In times of need, including financial distress, we cry out to God for His help and intervention. But once the crisis has passed, and prosperity has returned, it’s easy to forget the source of our deliverance.

This was repeatedly the case for ancient Israel. God bailed them out time after time, only to see their gratitude and devotion wane as their prosperity surged. In Deuteronomy 8:11-14 the Israelites were warned, “Beware that you do not forget the Lord your God by not keeping His commandments, His judgments, and His statutes which I command you today, lest – when you have eaten and are full, and have built beautiful houses and dwell in them, and when your herds and your flocks multiply, and you silver and your gold are multiplied, and all that you have is multiplied, when your heart is lifted up, and you forget the Lord your God….”

Curiously, this almost seems like a description of the United States today. Founded on Judeo-Christian principles and values, our post-World War II nation experienced an unprecedented explosion of prosperity. Home ownership, once only a faint hope for the great majority, suddenly became reality. Cars were no longer only for the privileged, and garages were added to houses. Consumerism and materialism began taking hold, and despite economic ups and downs, their grip remains strong and unrelenting.

As a consequence, we as a society seem to have decided we don’t need God. It’s become easy to deny He exists. In a twist from “I think, therefore I am,” we don’t think of God, therefore He isn’t. Supposedly there are no atheists in foxholes, but out of the foxhole we believe – or disbelieve – whatever we want. And if we feel self-sufficient, why bother with God?

Perhaps that’s one reason the apostle Paul wrote, “The love of money is a root of many kinds of evil” (1 Timothy 6:10). It not only contributes to sins such as greed, coveting, overindulgence, pride and hoarding, but also takes our focus from God, whom the Bible tells us is the giver of every good thing, shifting it onto ourselves and our stuff.

This is hardly new to human behavior. As the writer of Proverbs 30:8-9 wisely pleaded, “… Give me neither poverty nor riches; Feed me with the food that is my portion, that I not be full and deny You and say, ‘Who is the LORD?’ Or that I not be in want and steal, and profane the name of my God.…”

So despite hand-wringing over economic uncertainties, we in the United States remain perhaps the most prosperous society in history. While the poor in some countries live in squalor – African huts, Brazilian favelas and Hispanic barrios, all homes consisting of scrap materials – many of our poor possess cars, wide-screen TVs and cell phones. Poverty and prosperity are relative.

The upshot of all of this is we, like the people of ancient Israel, have collectively decided, “Who needs God?”, replicating the pattern the Israelites modeled: “all the people did whatever seemed right in their own eyes” (Judges 17:6).

As we scan the landscape of society, observing the craziness that’s transpiring these days, this doesn’t necessarily seem like a good thing. Maybe prosperity isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.

* * * 

Robert J. Tamasy is a veteran journalist, a former newspaper editor and magazine editor. He is presently vice president of communications for Leaders Legacy, Inc., a non-profit focused on mentoring and coaching business and professional leaders. Bob has written hundreds of magazine articles, and has authored, co-authored and edited more than 15 books. These include “Tufting Legacies,” “The Heart of Mentoring,” “Business at Its Best,” and “Pursuing Life With a Shepherd’s Heart.” He edits a weekly business meditation, “Monday Manna,” which is translated into more than 20 languages and distributed via email around the world by CBMC International. He also posts regularly on two blogs, www.bobtamasy.blogspot.com, and www.bobtamasy.wordpress.com. He can be emailed at btamasy@comcast.net.


Rivermont Presbyterian Hosts Chuck Brodsky In Concert

Rivermont Presbyterian Church, 3319 Hixson Pike, will present Chuck Brodsky in concert on Saturday, Feb. 7 at 6 p.m. Chuck Brodsky hits the heart of folk music: honest, lean, and passionate. His work is laden with narrative, social commentary, humor, and personal experience.  Larry Groce, Mountain Stage (National Public Radio) said he was “one of the finest singer-songwriters ... (click for more)

Bob Tamasy: Living In The Moment

Time’s a funny thing. When we’re having fun, it seems to have wings. But when we’re anxiously waiting for a day or hour to arrive, time seems to adopt the pace of a snail. Either way, time often dominates our thinking. Confession: I’m one of those that have paid too much attention to time, especially focusing on the future. Too frequently I have found myself so caught up in ... (click for more)

State Attorney General Rules Against Erlanger On Closed Meeting Where Management Bonuses Were Discussed

The state attorney general's office has ruled that, under a section of the state Sunshine Law, that the board of a public hospital is not allowed to meet privately to discuss employee bonuses. The Erlanger Health System board recently discussed $1.7 million in management bonuses during a closed-door session. The board then approved the controversial bonuses without discussion ... (click for more)

Chief Fletcher Gives Maximum Punishment To Officer Who Fired At Vehicle That Backed Toward Him; Attorney Vows To Fight To Reverse Decision

Chattanooga Police Chief Fred Fletcher has given a maximum punishment to an officer who fired four shots toward a vehicle after he said the driver backed into his vehicle with him standing behind it. Chief Fletcher sustained a finding of “improper use of force – discharge of firearm.” He suspended Officer Alex Olson for 30 days without pay – the maximum suspension allowed ... (click for more)

Shelley Andrews Will Be Missed - And Response

Shelley Andrews was one of the kindest, most thoughtful and most effective laborers in our community.  Her work with the Friends of Moccasin Bend was exemplary.  She listened, she learned and she led with dignity and class. Her brave battle with ovarian cancer was a testament to her positive spirit and commitment to her work on behalf of the people of this region. ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: The Magic Bank Account

As the month of January is almost out the door, I am opening my email today to share a marvelous story that legend has it was printed on piece of paper found in Bear Bryant’s wallet when he died in 1983. While I don’t know that the famed Alabama football coach had this lesson in his wallet, chances are he might have if he’d read it. * * * THE BANK ACCOUNT & RULES Imagine ... (click for more)