If asked to name the fastest-growing industries in America, how would you respond? Something in the construction realm, or the technology world.? Maybe some business related to transportation? But would your guesses include…the self-storage industry?
This industry – constructing and then leasing or renting self-storage units – has become big business. Wikipedia, that online fount of knowledge, reports it’s a distinctively United States-based industry. Of the estimated 58,000 storage facilities worldwide in 2009, 46,000 would be found in the good ole U.S. of A. Many of them have been added since then. Whether a business enterprise, family, or single person, it seems if you’re an American, you’ve got stuff. Some apartment complexes now offer adjacent storage facilities, so tenants can keep their stuff on-site.
Maybe that’s why so many celebrities that vowed to leave the country if Donald Trump was elected President are still here. They can’t find anywhere else to stash their stuff!
If you think I’m pointing at others, remember – whenever we point a finger at someone, several fingers are pointing back at us. Oh, I know about stuff, especially the book variety. “Hi, I’m Bob, and I’m a bookaholic.” I’ve accumulated enough books over the years to fill a small library, even though I’ve somehow managed (reluctantly) to get rid of hundreds. There are lots more where those came from.
My books aren’t in a storage unit, although my better half probably wishes they were. Also, as a diehard, bleeding Scarlet and Gray, fan of the Buckeyes, I have enough attire bearing Ohio State logos to go more than a month without wearing the same one twice. My wife has stuff, too, but we won’t go into that.
Suffice it to say, we’re bonafide, card-carrying, stuff-possessing Americans, like many of the folks reading this post. It’s fitting that next month many of us will gather with friends and family to enjoy turkey and “stuffing.” There might be good cause for renaming our nation the United Stuff of America. (Especially considering the current states we’re in.)
This fascination with accumulating stuff isn’t new. Jesus told the story of a rich man whose harvest was so abundant, he ran out of space for storing the crops. He might have considered giving some of it away, but instead, decided, “This is what I’ll do. I will tear down my barns and build bigger ones, and there I will store my surplus grain. And I’ll say to myself, ‘You have plenty of grain laid up for many years. Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry.’ But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?’ This is how it will be with whoever stores up things for themselves but is not rich toward God” (Luke 12:13-21).
Jesus stated the reason for this parable at the start: “Watch out! Be on your guard against greed; life does not consist in an abundance of possessions.”
During His “sermon on the mount,” Jesus addressed this topic again, perhaps anticipating the self-storage boom. He warned His hearers, “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Matthew 6:19-21).
This raises the question, “What are these ‘treasures in heaven’?” I must admit too often I get things confused, but long ago a friend expressed it this way: “The only things that will last for eternity are the Word of God, and people.” Maybe the secret is instead of buying, responding to the latest sales and commending ourselves for the bargains we’ve found, we could be investing in people, using some of our financial resources to help them in achieving better lives for themselves, and in the process pointing them to Jesus – “the author and perfecter of our faith” (Hebrews 12:2).
When we’re on the other side of eternity, I doubt God will announce a contest by saying, “Okay. Let’s see who brought the most stuff!” But I think He will delight in showing us the treasures we stored up in heaven in terms of the eternal impact we had on people’s lives. And we’ll be able to join in His delight.
Robert J. Tamasy is a veteran journalist, former newspaper editor and magazine editor. Bob has written hundreds of magazine articles, and authored, co-authored and edited more than 15 books. These include the newly re-published, “Business At Its Best,” “Tufting Legacies,” “The Heart of Mentoring,” 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. To read more of Bob Tamasy’s writings, you can visit his blog, www.bobtamasy.blogspot.com, or his website (now being completed), www.bobtamasy-readywriterink.com. He can be emailed at firstname.lastname@example.org.