Enough: Discovering Joy, Simplicity, Generosity

In an intriguing article from Luther Seminary’s e-newsletter, Stewardship for the 21st Century, Linda Rozumalski writes about “the theology of enough.” Practicing this theology counteracts the attitude of acquisition, she says, and breaks the illusion that we own and control our lives and the things that we have.

One way to develop this “theology of enough” is to move closer to simple living, working to break our dependence upon acquiring possessions. Such a statement is easy to say, I know, but hard to do. Yet Adam Hamilton’s little book, Enough: Discovering Joy Through Simplicity and Generosity, can take us as far as we might dare to go.

Hamilton offers some big-impact specifics, beginning with six financial-planning principles and including a simple budget worksheet, a three-point credit card pay-off strategy, fifteen financial management tips, and five steps for simplifying your life. But describing the book this way makes it sound like just another self-help tool. It isn’t. Really. Each of his principles connects to a biblical teaching, but more than that: He bases it all on a theological foundation in God’s generosity and the generosity to which God calls us. He also gives plenty of Bible passages and related personal-experience questions in each chapter for us to work through our own best strategies on our own terms, whether it is in the context of a family study book or as a catalyst for group exploration.

Thanks in part to affluenza and “credit-it is,” he says, our lifelong dreams can twist themselves into financial and spiritual nightmares. But it is possible to turn ourselves around, to move to a sense of “enough,” then toward cultivating contentment, and on to honest-to-God joy through the practice of simplicity and generosity.

Such words of hope bring us back to Rozumalski’s “theology of enough.” Instead of competitively counting our physical possessions, we can recognize the blessing of enough in a different way: enough people in our lives who love and care for us, enough material goods to share and to keep, enough time to spend some of it on others, and enough to do to contribute and to be content.

Your partner in ministry,
Betsy Schwarzentraub
Written 11/29/2010 for the General Board of Discipleship
of the United Methodist Church