Thursday, December 10, 2009

Buyer's remorse

Have you ever heard the term buyer’s remorse? Ever experienced it? I know I have (basically every piece of exercise equipment I've ever bought). Buyer’s remorse is that feeling of regret that often crops up after some major or not so major purchase. These feelings can show up for all sorts of reasons, but usually appear when the credit card bill hits sometime in January. At that point you realize that you got carried away and your purchase of a 60 inch TV doesn’t make that much sense for your apartment where the biggest room is only ten feet wide. Or perhaps by that point, your new car already has a scratch on it. Your new shirt is already stained. Your new computer is already outdated. Your Tiger Woods hat doesn't communicate the same thing that it did when you bought it.

Buyer’s remorse leaves you wondering why you liked this purchase so much in the first place or why you didn’t wait for the after Christmas sales. You’d think past experiences of buyer’s remorse would slow our spending down, but you’d be wrong. We seem to not only have buyer’s regret but buyer’s amnesia. We somehow convince ourselves that we’ll be wiser this year – that we’ll pick out better gifts, gifts that last, gifts that satisfy.

Several years ago, my father-in-law pointed out that while he’d experienced plenty of buyer’s remorse in his life, he’d never experienced giver’s remorse. That is, he’d never given a gift to a ministry or a mission or just a person in need and then later wished he had that money back. His words struck me then as truthful and have proven truthful ever since. I’m a slow learner, so I’ve continued to make purchases that I’ve later regretted. But without fail, every time I’ve stretched myself to give generously to my church, a good cause, or a neighbor in need, I’ve found joy not regret.

My guess is we’re going to continue to buy things for our own families. That’s ok. Giving my kids or my wife a gift is a form of generosity. But how might we find more joy and less regret this Christmas season? Perhaps by figuring out how to buy ourselves less and to give others more.

Here are some of my favorite places to give:
  1. Our church – give to the Christmas Offering. All gifts go to benefit the ministry of Water for All, a ministry of Southland Baptist Church led by Terry and Kathy Waller. With permanent ministries in Bolivia and Ethiopia, their ministry of digging water wells for the world’s poor also takes their team around the world. Your gift this Christmas will go a long way in helping place a cup of cold water in the hands of the least of these of our world. Our goal is $20,000.

  2. The Cooperative Baptist Fellowship Store – Browse the online catalog, pick a gift, send a check. An easy way to give a gift to the least of these. If you can’t get this to work online, we have catalogs in the office.

  3. The World Vision Catalog - Browse the online catalog, pick a gift (they have goats, chickens, you name it), send a check or pay online. Another easy way to give a gift to the least of these.

  4. The Preemptive Love Coalition – Started by a friend from seminary, this ministry in Iraq funds heart surgeries for Kurdish children.

The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me – Matthew 25:40.

1 comment:

Jesus Hold My Hand said...

I read your post on giving and never having giver's remorse. Excellent post! The scripture verse at the end of your post caught my eye. Because Matthew 25 vrs 35 to 40 has for several years been the cornerstone of my Mexico Ministry. Feeding the hungry and healing the sick is my primary focus in Mexico.

It's raining tonight in my town, and I'm enjoying browsing through Christian blogs from around the world. I love the internet. The world is at my finger tips. I can visit remote islands, or big cities, or villages on mountain tops and seaside towns.

If you have time I invite you to visit my blog, and a comment would be nice :) Jesus Hold My Hand