The love of money is the root of all evil.
From both personal experience and personal observation, I believe that statement to be true. Many a man or woman in love with money has compromised principle in order to obtain wealth. No doubt you have seen it as well.
There is just one problem with this helpful proverb: We’re quite sure the warning doesn’t apply to us. I mean, we’d never lie, cheat, or steal to gain more money. Therefore, the warning must be for someone else—probably the wealthy.
Herein lies the problem. Nobody ever admits to loving money. Everybody just wants more of it. (tweet that)
In America, if you ask a roomful of people who wants to be rich, almost every hand gets raised. The desire for wealth is almost a forgone conclusion in our society. So much so, in fact, anybody who claims they don’t want more is quickly labeled a madman, a liar, or misinformed.
But I don’t think this assumption concerning our relentless pursuit of money should go unchallenged. It might be a helpful exercise to measure our desires and weigh them against the alternative.
So let me pose a question.
What if the desire for money could be entirely removed from our lives? What riches might stand on the other side? What benefits would we discover?
Allow me to offer seven.
1. Happiness can be discovered. The studies always come out the same. Once our most basic physical needs are met, money adds very little happiness to our lives—even though we always assume it will. Zig Ziglar said it like this, “Money won’t make you happy. But everybody wants to find out for themselves.” Once we remove the desire for money, we are freed to discover happiness has been available to us all along.
2. Security can be found elsewhere. Research from Margaret Clark, a professor of Psychology at Yale, tells us that human beings look for security in two places: possessions and relationships. When one is abundant, the other receives less priority. As we shift the focus of our lives away from the accumulation of more and more money, we may just find that genuine relationships with other people provide far more security and fulfillment than possessions ever can.
3. The negative influence of wealth becomes more apparent. Most of us fear poverty. But very few ever consider the negative consequences of wealth: pride, arrogance, isolation, lack of empathy, and the clouding of moral judgment (just to name a few). Again, we are quick to dismiss the notion that money would ever have that type of influence on us. Because we imagine our life would only be better with more money, we never stop to even consider if that’s true.
4. Work would take on a new focus. If the pursuit of wealth was removed from our affections, we may change our career entirely and choose to do something more fulfilling for 40 hours/week… doesn’t that sound nice? But even if we didn’t change our work assignment, our focus would still change. We may care less about the paycheck and care more about doing a good job for the sake of doing a good job—or maybe for the sake of the person we are serving in our occupation. Work would no longer be selfish, it would become selfless.
5. Generosity could begin today. Generosity benefits the receiver, but it also rewards the giver. Those who are generous with their money and their time take hold of the life that is fully life. They make the world better and their lives fuller. Too often we fall into the thinking if we made more money we would become more generous. But the statistics don’t support that presumption. Generosity is more about priorities than it is about income.
6. Contentment would become attainable. Those who have all they need (food, clothing, shelter) but still constantly desire more, prove their discontent. It is displayed in the items they pursue. I realize that removing the desire for wealth does not necessarily result in contentment, passions can still be directed elsewhere. But it is a great start.
7. Regret is more easily avoided. People who want to get rich fall into a trap that often leads to ruin and regret. They make sacrifices with their time and energy to secure more wealth. They are quick to neglect their family, their health, or their soul. They make small sacrifices every day in order to make more money. But in the end, they will discover they traded the most important for the least. Rejecting an unquenchable desire for more opens up our life to regain focus on the things that truly matter.
This post is not a chastisement of those with money—that would include most of us. And this is also not an argument against hard work, compensation, or earning money.
Instead, this is a post designed to open up a conversation on this blog and in our minds—a conversation about the role of money in our lives. And it is a call to reevaluate our seemingly insatiable desire for more of it.