My husband and I recently transferred all our banking to a credit union. This cooperative financial institution has a "Prosperity Project." In order to engage its members, each branch has been inviting people to write on a round piece of card stock what prosperity means to them. Some of the definitions I can remember were:
Being rich Being mortgage-free sooner; retire before age 65
Being healthy Enjoying children and grandchildren
This week I picked up the Sharpie and wrote a definition of my own:
Prosperity is being able to pay my bills and having enough to share with those in need.
Please allow me to unpack why, for me, prosperity involves these twin aspects.
1) Being able to pay my bills
When I can pay my bills, I am living within my means. I make purchases not according to what I want or according to what my neighbors have. Instead, I buy things I need at the rate I can afford them. If that means choosing second-hand items rather than brand new ones, that is part of prosperity. Prosperity does not go into consumer debt. Living within my means reduces my stress level because I'm not afraid of bills arriving that I cannot pay. Unless I will be able to pay the full balance of my credit card on the due date, I do not use it.
When my income increases, I have the option of continuing with that original standard of living. Living beneath my means can lead to even greater prosperity as I see it in the second half of my definition.
2) Having enough to share with those in need
How can a person feel prosperous if he or she in only grasping for material things for him or herself? I feel prosperous when I can give some of my income off the top for God's work in the world--that feeds the hungry, shelters the homeless, brings good news to the oppressed, and prevents abuses of many kinds. I feel even more prosperous when, at the end of the month, there is more good that can be accomplished with what has come into my possession. Prosperity is entrusted to us so that it can be shared.