There are times I hate the effect I see money having on me. We all want to be seen as people who are not overly money minded and to give the impression that we have a healthy view of money. We hardly want it to seem like the only motivator in our lives but we also do not want to seem street foolish, greedy, gullible and perpetually money-minded. This is a balance I struggle with almost on a daily basis. In my work, I want to pursue excellence and to feel that I am not taking advantage of my clients while also ensuring that bills get paid and that I am also not taken undue advantage of. Yet whether I like it or not not, money really seems to be what makes the world go round. Many of us find ourselves in a continuous rat race, chasing money and running away from those who seem to want ours.
The media seems to be to blame in all this. Actually the media gets blamed for everything. In fact of late I have really been wondering what it is that we as a society want the media to do. We seem to blame them every time. We accuse them of driving our agenda the wrong way by focusing on non-issues and ignoring really important items regarding them as not ‘news-worthy’. Of late it is becoming clear to me, that in the same way people say we get the leaders we deserve, we also get the media we deserve. All the smut in what we call the ‘gutter-press’ many of us want to read. The tabloids have buyers and though we don’t want to admit it, we love gossip, we want to know all the stuff there, we but it and devour it. If there were no customers for it, it would not be in the market.
I have always been wary of the perception our society has of what has come to be known as the Kenyan celeb. A lot of it revolves around money. Money makes you a celeb. The story about Samuel Wanjiru for example is staying in the news because of the money aspect. Seeing men and women somehow want to include themselves in the equation and pretending it’s not about the money is rather fascinating. This story and others like it, like that of the Kirima family fascinates us and we will read anything we see in the papers about it. A couple of weeks ago I watched a K24 interview of Dr. Frank Njenga talking to Jeff Koinange about the whole Wanjiru saga. He said that money has a very strong effect on us. If major changes occur in the amount of money we have, whether a big sudden increase or decrease, we will struggle to cope with it. A lot of us seem to think that we can handle a lot of money but really, few of us can. It does not seem to be an easy thing.
I think many of us seem to know how to handle being broke more than being quite ‘chummed’. It seems easier to explain having no money than having more than you have ever imagined. Many really ‘chummed’ Christians harbour a subtle sense of guilt when they purchase some things that would make then stand out as wealthy. In fact many do not want to be referred to as rich. So we find ourselves in a very interesting scenario. We work hard, pray hard to make a lot of money, then feel either guilty when we have a lot of it. There are times in our minds that being rich is associated with being a crook. I admit that sometimes I pray not because I believe that God will answer my prayer but because I feel it is what is required of me as a believer. I pray to fulfil my duty and also to ensure that I am referred once in a while as a prayerful person. But deep in my heart of hearts, I really do not believe that God will do or provide some of the things I pray for. Which is rather sad, not to mention, truth be told, actually stupid.
I have sometimes also wondered about my attitude to ‘chummed’ folk. Whenever I am around someone I perceive as being extremely wealthy, I usually am quite confused about how to behave. I struggle between keeping the money issue aside completely and assuming that I am talking to a mere mortal like me on one extreme, and downright begging for some on the other.
I have a small car. Once on Kenyatta Avenue in traffic, I was next to this huge Range Rover waiting for the lights to turn green. It seemed to be taking forever for them to change. I looked at the driver and felt awkward as our eyes met. In my mind I felt him looking down on me and seemed to be asking if that is all I could manage as a means of transport. He stroked his hair, not because it needed stroking, but it seemed the only way he could let me see his rolex. I felt him ask what hurry I was in yet even if the lights were to change I could not keep up with him. He just looked so important and I was a nobody. By the time the lights changed, I hated him and all people like him. Idiots who don’t seem to know that a man’s life does not consist of the abundance of his possessions. Then God spoke.
Has God ever spoken to you? My goodness. I call it a Job 38 moment. Do yourself a favour on day and read Job 38 – 41. If you have the audio version the better. Verse 3 of Job 38 begins thus,
Brace yourself like a man;
I will question you,
and you shall answer me.
When God starts a conversation like that, you better listen.
God invited me to look at the life of the ‘stupid Range Rover guy’. Many people who own Range Rovers you will find, have more than one car. It is not their only car. They most likely will have a house as well if not several. They will have a career or business that can sustain the lifestyle they have chosen. I am not talking about wanna-be’s here. I am talking about people whose net worth is not fake and/or in doubt. Anyway, God went on and on about what percentage of that guy’s wealth that Range Rover is and that it probably is far far less than my small car (which I am still paying for) is of mine. I was reminded of the story of the poor widow who gave coins compared to the rich guys who gave a lot of money showing off during the time of offering. God does not look at what you give, he looks at what you hold back and truly sees where your heart is.
In closing He asked, “Who is the idiot now?”
Let’s just say, I had a quiet drive home that evening.
What is your attitude toward the rich? Do you want to be rich? Has God ever spoken to you in a way you couldn’t doubt it was Him?
PS: Today I would like to remember my good friend Arthur Karobia and mourn with him the passing of his wife Wangui on Friday. May he and his three young boys find true comfort in the Lord.