You probably saw the headlines, maybe even read the articles. During her recent book tour, Hillary Clinton made a couple of comments that did not go over well. When she and President Clinton left the White House in 2000, she said they were “dead broke” and had difficulty coming up with money for their “mortgages”—yes, plural—and Chelsea’s Stanford University tuition bills.
Within days of making those comments, she did it again, telling one interviewer her family should not be compared to the “truly well off,” despite her husband making millions from books and speeches and herself now making as much as $200,000 per talk.
Many called her out of touch, and I found myself singing along with the chorus of critics, if only softly to myself.
The article appeared on my radar screen at a bad time. I was in a hurry, scanning lots of articles as I tried to finish off another Friday Roundup. It slowed me down, drew me in, brought tears to my eyes, conviction to my heart.
It made me wonder how out of touch I may have become.
An other-centered, in-touch life
The author, Pastor Doug Banister, coaches an inner city swim team. It’s an experience that breaks his heart, sometimes steers his melancholy nature toward depression, and propels him forward.
After a meet, he drove one of the young swimmers home where a group of adults was partying on the porch. No one paid attention when Pastor Banister told them how well the boy had done at the meet. Instead, one of the women swore at the kid, ordering him inside.
Another team member doesn’t get enough to eat. At least one kid’s father is in prison.
“For the first time,” he writes, “I am truly in relationship with the most vulnerable members of my community.”
Pastor Banister once planted a church that grew to 2,000 people over the course of 15 years. Today he claims to have “a gift for going backwards.”
Last winter we launched a tutoring and dinner program after practice. We began with eight kids. We ended with two. Did we fail? It depends on how you keep score. This summer I'm betting God gives points for just showing up and not going away. This summer I'm redefining fruitful as faithful.
My daily experience is not filled with the types of encounters Pastor Banister describes. That alone left me feeling very out of touch when I read the article.
I was drawn to the work of writing and speaking about biblical money management out of a sense of calling. After all, it was a financial crash and burn that God used to get my attention. Ever since, I’ve had a passion to use the topic of money as a way to share the Gospel, to help believers walk more closely with Christ, to help restore marriages, and more.
Is God calling me to seek out opportunities to help meet other needs? I don’t know. But I’m willing to ask.
In the meantime, Pastor Banister’s article reminded me that whether ministering to inner city poor kids or simply living in the suburbs, my life is filled with encounters, each one an opportunity to be Christlike or not.
This point was brought home exceptionally well in a speech the late writer David Foster Wallace gave at a college commencement ceremony a few years back. More recently, his speech was turned into a powerful nine-minute video that you’ll find well worth your time to watch.
For many of us, wealth can be like water to a fish. It doesn’t take very long to acclimate to it, to not notice it anymore—to even deny that we’re swimming in it—all the while becoming more and more out of touch with those who have so much less.
Is Hillary Clinton out of touch? Maybe. But what is that to me? The huge log in my eye should remind me more often than it does what hypocrisy it is to pay more attention to the speck in someone else’s eye.
What have you found helpful in making sure wealth does not make you out of touch?