Sunday, March 9, 2014

We're all consumers here.

If working retail has taught me one thing, it has taught me that we are, without a doubt, hardcore consumers.  The most common phrases I hear, at both jobs:

Give me
Can I have
Can I get
I'm looking for
I need
I want

Plus, of course, all the complaints, the "no I don't like this, give me something different," and the relentless asking for discounts.  Being a retail employee is all about catering to the customer's every need and desire -- feeding their consumerism?! -- while at the same time meeting the employer's high demands for excellency and lots of sales.

Maybe it's my personality, my desire to work hard and give it all I've got, but for me, it's super easy to get sucked down into this endless whirlwind of people-pleasing.  Please the bosses.  Please the customers.  Give them what they want.  Keep that happy face on.  Sell sell sell.  It gets exhausting, and then suddenly I find myself in that I-hate-people-and-don't-want-to-talk-to-any-of-them-for-a-long-time mindset.  Oops.  Not a good mindset for a Christian to have, I guess.  Good thing I have tomorrow off to "renew my mind" (Romans 12:2), right?!

Anyway, this got me thinking a little this afternoon about consumerism and the self-centered nature of humanity.  Really, it's draining.  It's all about I want this and I need that, and we're all prone to it.  This fall I read Jen Hatmaker's book Seven: an experimental mutiny against excess, and it pretty much blew my mind.  It's all about how we can strive to be less consumers of and more contributors to the world we live in.  Jen put this into practice by committing to spend money at only seven different stores for a month, to give away seven things every day for a month, etc.  It's about intentional practices like this, but it's also about an attitude.  Jen writes:

“As Jesus explained, the right things have to die so the right things can live--we die to selfishness, greed, power, accumulation, prestige, and self-preservation, giving life to community, generosity, compassion, mercy, brotherhood, kindness, and love. The gospel will die in the toxic soil of self.” 

That last line gets me every time.  I don't want that to happen in my life.  May my selfish consumerism -- the natural side of me and of all of us -- never squelch the potential of the gospel in any way!  I want to consider, and maybe you will, too... how can I practice being a selfless contributor this week?  How can I let the gospel shine through not only my interactions with people, but through the way I partake of the world around me? 

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