This is part two of our discussion on network marketing. To read part one click here.
We have got to talk about money. I know it isn’t polite. But y’all the Bible talks about money A LOT. Like more than almost any other subject. And yet we rarely talk about how we are spending our money besides to say don’t get in debt and give 10% to your church. That is an anemic money conversation at best.
I am not exaggerating when I say that I think God truly cares about whether you buy leggings or face-wash or supplements. And that is where my biggest concern comes in with all of these products we are selling and buying. I am afraid that many of us have been swept up in a cultural consumerism tide without even pausing to reflect. I am afraid that the personal element of network marketing has caused even the most self-aware women to spend money in less than ideal ways.
A budget is a moral document.
I have and live by a budget every single month. A line by line, dollar by dollar list of what I will spend. I have “fun money” set aside each month, so if I want to go out to eat or buy something on clearance at Target or buy a product from a friend I only do that if the budget says I can. Money is not spent flippantly, every purchase is thought about and planned.
By the grace of God (given in my small paycheck) I have to live by my budget. I say this is grace because I know myself and if I had much more income I would buy all the things on Facebook. Having to live by a very strict budget has given me a unique perspective on money that will forever shape these conversations for me. My small income affirms to me that they way I spend my money is a moral choice. My intentionality or lack thereof with my bank account either honors God or it doesn’t.
Let me be clear, I am not jealous that you have $100 to drop on new lipstick and mascara. Partly because I don’t wear lipstick. Nor am I saying you should feel guilty that you make more money than me. If this was true literally almost every person reading this would need to feel guilty. I don’t tell you about my budget and intentional spending so that you will think I am awesome or because I think I am better than you.
I tell you about my budget because the reality is most of you aren’t living on one. Or if you are there is A LOT of wiggle room. And I don’t think it is a sin to live without a budget, but I do think that lack of intentionality and discipline leaves us vulnerable to make sinful choices with our money.
I know sinful is a harsh word. Maybe it wouldn’t be so jarring in this discussion if more Christian leaders were talking about the kajillion scriptures about money. But I don’t think it is an overstatement to say that many of us are spending money in ways that miss God’s mark (sin), in ways that are less than Kingdom-centered and holy (sin).
Here is my thinking, Holy Spirit lives inside of me and everything I have is God’s. Which means that before I spend what is God’s I think I should consult with Him. And I think most of us do this about our giving or big purchases like a house, but when was the last time you talked to God about your leggings or essential oil purchase?
Imagine you gave your kid a debit card linked to your account. Everything that was yours was theirs and you were happy to share. The one thing you asked, “Talk to me before you make a purchase.” How would it feel to look at your bank account and see that your child who you had generously shared everything with had been swiping away without stopping to get your thoughts and wisdom on their purchases.
This is how I see most of us with God. We say pithy little phrases about how “everything we have is God’s” and then we drain His bank account He shared with us without ever talking to Him about our purchases.
This is what having a budget does for me. It doesn’t mean I don’t ever buy something small, nice or “unnecessary”. It just means I talk to God a lot about how I am spending my money.
So that is my big concern with all the products we are selling and buying. Are we just swiping our (God’s) card without a second thought? Are we being intentional with our (God’s) money? Are we prioritizing what God prioritizes?
Are we asking ourselves the not-so-fun, uncomfortable questions?
Do I need another lipstick?
Should I spend this leggings money on someone I just found out is struggling financially?
Why am I buying this weight loss product? What is my heart behind it?
Listen I am a total hippie in that if you are going to buy something and can buy local and small versus big corporation I am going to say “heck yeah!” But how much stuff are we buying that we never would have even considered spending our money on except that a woman we are friends with is selling it?
If you are going to buy face-wash no matter what than definelty buy it from my friend Marcy. If you are really having a health problem and a supplement is something your doctor recommends than yeah buy it from your neighbor versus the big chain.
But listen how many pieces of clothes do you need? Do you really need another essential oil blend? That cream for stretch marks? One more necklace?
My big concern isn’t any one of these individual products, it is the mindless way we are consuming things. And network marketing adds in a tricky catch because it feels good to support each other.
But we need to stop and ask, how can we support each other without becoming bottomless pits of consumerism? How can we cheer each other on without buying things we don’t need? And in general, how can we learn that loving people well doesn’t have to cost money?
If you know a single mom you want to support who sells jewelry, for the love if you don’t need another pair of earrings, just send her an anonymous Visa card in the mail. It is one less thing for you to clean out next garage sale and she keeps 100% of the support you want to throw her way.
If you are proud of your friend for stepping out in her new business but look in your makeup drawer and know you don’t need what she is selling, send her a card of encouragement instead.
If you really believe in a friend selling essential oils but you have already had to buy a rack to house all of the oils you own, buy a blend or two to give to a woman in poverty who would never be able to afford that resource.
Here is what I know, humor is one of our favorite coping mechanisms as American women and it is humor that makes me know we have a consumerism problem. My heart shatters when Christian women I respect post pictures of their overflowing makeup drawers or memes about not telling their husbands how much they spent on LuLaRoe this month.
Excess isn’t funny. Careless spending isn’t funny. Mind and heart-numbing consumerism isn’t funny.
And I think we know that. I think it is exactly why we are cracking jokes and egging each other on. I think deep down our soul is telling us that we have way more than we need. I think the Spirit inside of us is crying out for us to snap out of our cultural hypnosis. I think our hearts know that the emptiness inside of us will never be filled with stuff, even stuff we bought to support our friends.
So let’s keep empowering women. Let’s give women flexibility and financial provision. Let’s believe in each other. Let’s get creative about how we can do what God has called us to do. Whether that is being a stay-at-home mom or volunteering in our communites. Let’s look for and find connection in the most unexpected of places. Let’s buy what we need from local small businesses.
But let’s do this with great intentionality and prayer. Let’s spend our money as if we actually believe that it is God’s. Let’s give away more than we spend on ourselves. Let’s live on budgets not out of nessecity but out of discipline that is aiming for holiness. Let’s spend our money differently than the world that they might come to know the great joy of our simple Savior. A Savior who fulfills, who empowers, who provides and who says we are enough just as we are. Lipstick or no lipstick. Boss babe or no boss babe.