Tomorrow is pay day. I get paid on a monthly basis so the final few days leading up to the grand event are always full of anticipation as I count down the hours, minutes and seconds until the money finally lands in my bank account. It’s like Christmas Eve for adults. Without the mince pies, tinsel and big fat guy in the red suit. And it happens 12 times a year!
The money is electronically transferred so that it appears in my account at one minute past midnight. I have known colleagues to be strategically positioned at ATM machines at this exact moment, such is their enthusiasm to spend their hard earned wages. In the nearest bar. I, of course, have never sunk to such depths. Ahem.
When Fionnuala and I were younger pay day meant three things: spend, spend and then spend some more. We lived for the moment and well beyond our means. Designer clothes, holidays and nights out were the priorities. Never worry about saving for the future. That could wait. We needed the good stuff now!
Fast forward twenty five years or so and we still look forward to pay day. But for very different reasons. New school uniforms need to be purchased, bills need paid, in fact there always seems to be something or someone draining our resources. Pay day for me used to be a night (or preferably weekend) on the town living the dream. Now I’m content if I have enough to buy a new book on my Kindle.
I still look forward to pay day now but for different reasons. Back in the day it was all about myself. Treating myself and making sure I enjoyed myself. Fast forward to the present and I have responsibilities – three kids, a mortgage and a border terrier to provide for. I now consciously choose to put them first even though ,at times, I still want to look after numero uno.
This is partly due to greater maturity on my part but also out of necessity. Our kids rely on us to provide for their needs. Much as I would like to splash the cash on myself I realise that there are others who need it more than me. The word ‘need’ itself has a varied etymology but one translation traces it back to the old German word ‘nud’ meaning ‘hardship, distress or danger.’
Danger? I need a new laptop. I need a new car. I need a new house. Hardly life or death situations. More want than need. But contextualise it differently and the word makes perfect sense with regards its Germanic roots. I need a drink of water. I need food for my family. I need this vaccination for my child or he will die. Those needs encapsulate the true meaning of the word. Need is desperate. Need is now. Need is the difference between life and death.
I am sure none of you reading this are millionaires. And if you are a millionaire then surely you have better things to be doing than reading this blog! I am equally sure that you all have pressing financial demands that need to be covered. We all have bills to pay; equally we are all entitled to the occasional treat. I am not suggesting for a moment you adopt the ‘sackcloth and ashes’ approach. God put us on this planet to enjoy our time here and the last thing the world needs is another sanctimonious party pooper.
But it is true that the best things in life come free. Health, Family & Friends. The rest is mere detail. Like chasing the wind. It will never truly satisfy you. So when you contemplate your next payday purchase because you really need it, stop a second and think about the meaning of the word. Will I be placing myself in danger or distress if I don’t buy that new pair of jeans or video game? And when you have answered that question perhaps consider giving the money you would have spent to those whose needs, if not taken care of, can place them in real danger.
Africa. Aleppo. It doesn’t really matter. It can be a headline cause on the other side of the world. Or it can be the family living on the breadline in your neighbourhood. Their needs are greater than yours. Remove them from distress and danger.
You need to….
Ecclesiastes 5:10 – ‘Whoever loves money never has enough; whoever loves wealth is never satisfied with their income. This too is meaningless.’
What has been your craziest payday purchase?
What need can you meet in your community today?