I had an interesting conversation a few months back that has me thinking. I was traveling and had opportunity to rub shoulders with people I hold in a very high esteem. People who have “the aroma”. They are the kind of people you are more like Jesus because of time spent with them. In the course of the conversation, they were asked me how our family was doing with my transition to a leadership role which required me to be to regularly be away from home. I was transparent with them and said it hadn’t been easy. The conversation took a turn as they spoke into my life about an idea I’d never spent too much time camping out in. They referred to it as “Kingdom Economy”.
My encouragement in those moments was the idea that I have a “bank account” in heaven. An inheritance there. And maybe the sacrifices I make here sometimes create deposits I won’t see this side of heaven. A different kind of currency. As I thought about this, I was reminded that Scripture talks about the idea of an upside-down Kingdom. All throughout the Gospels, Jesus is telling stories that don’t seem to make sense. He uses phrases like, “The greatest is the least”, “the last shall be first”, “blessed are the poor in spirit”, and the list goes on and on. You’re strong when you’re weak. The poor are rich. He said some pretty crazy things we’re still digesting.
From a leadership perspective, I’m learning that the great leaders aren’t the loud, up-front, me-first personalities. Great leaders of great organizations are servant-leaders. Blanchard and Hodges wrote a great little book on this titled, “Lead Like Jesus: Lessons from the Greatest Leadership Role Model of All Time” | Amazon Link. Jesus said if you want to be great, you have to be a servant. He modeled this to his death. The Kingdom is upside down.
Last week I helped out in my wife Micki’s classroom. She teaches first grade in one of our local elementary schools. One of the students in her class is unforgettable. Her name is Rosie. Rosie is autistic. She’s not like the others. She has a special teacher that spends time just with her. Sometimes Rosie is disruptive. Some people would look at Rosie and not see much. Someone to complicate life. Someone who needs too much. Someone who is limited. Maybe even someone not worth an investment of time. But Rosie had us all holding back tears of joy last week as each of the first graders invited their moms for a Mother’s Day dessert. Each child read to the class and all of the moms a personal letter about what makes their mom special. Rose was no exception. The kids in her class love her. I’d hazard a guess that she may be a favorite of Micki’s. There’s something about Rosie that is beautiful. There is an upside down Kingdom in that little girl.
If you make it to heaven, I’ll wager a guess you’ll be in the econo-apartments and Rosie will be in a penthouse.
Both of my parents have spent their lives taking care of people. My father as a pastor and later in life as a worker in homes for mentally challenged adults. He’s now retired, but my mom still works in these environments. As I was talking to her last night, she was serving the residents dessert, and getting them tucked in and ready for bed. There were lots of hugs, “I love You’s”, and affection. I reminded my mother that she’s really Jesus with skin on. She’s making deposits in a different bank account – Kingdom Bank and Trust. She’s serving what we’d call, “the least of these”.
Henri Nouwen was a giant. He is the author of many books, most notably “The Wounded Healer”| Amazon Link. Henri did something crazy at the peak of his fame as a Christian author and speaker. He checked out. He said God was calling him to serve the neediest. Headed to a place called, Le ‘Arche to love “the least of these”. He went from wealth, popularity and prestige to virtual obscurity. Many questioned this decision. I don’t think Henri did much. He wrote about what he learned about God from this experiences in a book titled “Adam, God’s Beloved” | Amazon Link. Henri understood Kingdom economy.
Synthesis & Questions
My family and I have been through a pretty major transformation with regard to my work, travel, and how that effects the makeup of our family. Along this journey, I’ve had several conversations with people regarding this idea of “Kingdom Economy”. Does the time I spend on behalf Kingdom bank somewhere? Do the sacrifices we make on behalf of the Kingdom go unnoticed?
My sacrifices pale in comparison to the rural pastor who gives up his life for the sake of a small flock of people who may not appreciate he or his family. Or the family sensing a call to overseas missions and give up the “American Dream” for serving people not like themselves. These types of callings not only set families back in the world’s eyes, they also take a toll on the family because of the work they do. Finally, my sacrifices pale in comparison to the sacrifice Jesus made for us.
Don’t mistake this for a prosperity Gospel. I’m merely looking at the Gospels and comparing it to the lens of life we live through and wondering if our vision may be blurry. Rosie may look limited and weak here, but what will Rosie look like in heaven? Are the residents at Le ‘Arche the greatest? How about the folks my parents minister to? What about that pastor who’s gutting it out week after week? The isolated missionary who’s hearts desire is to serve? And my sacrifices? Will my title, position, power, and accolades matter much? These are obviously loaded questions. But they are good questions. Questions we should be asking and talking about. There’s a different currency we don’t necessarily have access to. I want to be investing in that.
Thought much about Kingdom economy? Have you thought of heaven like socialism? Everyone is equal? Or do we have a bank account in heaven that is managed on this side based on our choices?