Access vs. Ownership
It was just about 8 weeks ago that I was in south Asia working on a project with some friends. The project in itself is really quite phenomenal. I am not able to say much about it on this particular blog post for sake of security. But I know the project will impact 10’s of thousands in the coming years!
While talking with our project leader in this Asian “nation,” we had an interesting conversation about the mindsets or worldview of the “East” and the “West.” Our conversation drifted toward the concept of stewardship and responsibility. As followers of Christ we all have, or should have, a mindset to be good stewards of what God has given to us. Think about the parable of the talents.
Click this link to familiarize yourself if needed. Matthew 25:14-30
Stewardship is Biblical! Mindsets of stewardship are different based on culture and context. In Asia, our leaders understand stewardship a bit differently than Americans. The American Dream is to acquire possessions, wealth, property and so forth. The prerogative of our friends in Asia are different. Instead of owning they value access to the tools, resources, property and so forth. The concept of ownership requires that you also maintain the said possession. However, with the idea of access – there is a shared ownership and shared responsibility of maintaining said possession, property or resource.
Well you may be thinking this sounds like communism or socialism.
Perhaps it does. But does it have to be? Let’s think about the early church in Acts and the words from Jesus. There are many examples where we are told to be good stewards, to look after one another, to share with one another, to love one another as we love ourselves.
I am not promoting the theology of Christian Socialism, but I am promoting a mindset of stewardship! What is the best form of stewardship? Recently my family sold our house so that we can respond to the Lord in a season of transition. While we don’t know yet where we will end up (geographically), we do know that becoming untethered to a mortgage and the corresponding responsibilities has allowed us to consider stewardship in a new light.
In a society that is now consumed with ownership, ask the Lord for direction in what He desires for you. Perhaps it is not necessary to own this, or own that. Perhaps you don’t need another computer, another car, a boat or something else. Maybe just having access to something is enough.
Our friends in Asia do not own a car, they do not own a house, they have intentionally limited the possessions that they acquire. For these friends it is not because of lack of finances. They have chosen this lifestyle to allow them to have freedom for using their resources in other means. They do not have the burden of a car payment, maintenance, insurance etc. Rather than acquiring a depreciating asset, they choose to use public taxi’s, uber, trains and the like.
This is not always feasible in our American culture, but it does certainly challenge us to think differently and perhaps act differently with our resources.