you’re not the boss of me

I was walking at the mall with Nancy the other day. I thought about counting messages. I decided that was silly. Malls are about messages: signs and labels and images inviting and demanding my attention.

It’s easy to critque the consumerism of a mall, an environment created to provide climate control at the mere cost of our attention. But as I sit writing this essay, feet on my desk, every surface of my office has words: a Moxie can, a certificate from my dad, shelves of books, magazines and mugs.

So which ones do I listen to? How do I filter through all the masters commanding my servitude?

“Wait,” you say. “That’s pretty strong language, isn’t it? To say that those books are commanding me?”

Each one says, “use this understanding, buy this solution, try this alternative.” Each one offers choices, ways to live, ways to spend time and money and attention. Each one offers a choice for it and against everything else that could have been done with that time or money or attention.

Jesus says the way to pare  masters isn’t to reduce, it’s to pick. In fact, to pick one.

No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other.

It’s good advice. We all know the conflict that comes from trying to please several people. Or even two. It’s draining and confusing. And he does have a suggestion about the options:

You cannot serve both God and Money.

Jesus isn’t saying that money is bad, that wealth is to be avoided at all costs. He’s saying that we make choices of who to serve, where to place our energy. And that being divided doesn’t work. To pare, pick.

My friend Chris talked about paring this weekend, asking “Are there things you could (should?) pare back?” It made me think. This week, I’ll be looking at some of the trimming that Jesus talks about.

5 thoughts on “you’re not the boss of me

  1. Frank Reed

    Jesus really never wasted a single word did he? Black and white, plain and simple.

    When looking at my life, it is amazing how many choices I make that don’t honor Him. That needs to change.

    Thanks for the reminder.


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  3. AJ Leon

    This is an interesting post for me, Jon. It elucidates a constant conversation that has been going on in my head for a few months. Maybe Jesus is saying wealth should be avoided at all costs. And if that’s the case, then what does that say about me, an entrepreneur. Sometimes it’s difficult for me to reconcile what we do here in America, what I do here to who Jesus was, a homeless, itinerant preacher. As always, Jon, thanks for keeping my wheels turning. 🙂


    1. Jon Swanson

      I think the risk, AJ, is *pursuing* wealth at all costs. I understand the challenge of reconciling our culture and Jesus. But, I don’t have to do that.

      I find no biblical constraints on being an entrepreneur. (There is a sense that Paul was). And it’s not a chicken/egg thing (which comes first wealth or Jesus. Wait! Maybe we can get both!) It’s more a potter/clay thing.

      And thanks for helping me think, too.


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