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6 steps to help your family stop fighting over money

Jose Canseco earned $75,000 as a baseball player with the Oakland A’s in 1986. That year, Rickey Henderson’s salary with the Yankees was $1.57 million! In the 1990s, Henderson joined Oakland, content with his salary. But when Canseco signed a contract that was more lucrative than his own, Rickey Henderson showed up late for training. His pride was hurt. It wasn’t the fact that earning $3 million a year was going to be a financial hardship. It was the comparison with another, and the corresponding feeling of deprivation. As my grandma said, “It’s all relative!”

Bent down and poor: `aányâ.
The Aramaic word used in the first beatitude can refer to financial affliction, but `aányâ also captures a sense of spiritual poverty. It leads us beyond the habit of making comparisons. We are called to reevaluate what we perceive as deprivation.

“The Lord’s way is not fair!” (Ezekiel 18:25) When time and money are divided up, it isn’t always fair. Family resources aren’t distributed equally like the pieces of a pie. We fight against getting the “short end of the stick”: “His cookie has more chocolate chips!” “I’m chauffeuring kids all over town while you kick back and relax!” “Retirement should mean travel, but if you had your way we’d never leave this house!” The beatitudes call us to evaluate our choices through God’s perspective, not through our own sense of fairness.

Lead me in the path of your commands, for that is my delight. (Psalm 119:35) Bending down before God doesn’t feel comfortable in a “pull yourself up by the bootstrap” culture. Yet the Spirit prompts us to live in the kingdom of heaven, even as we struggle here on earth. Just as those living in economic poverty must depend on others for sustenance, those who are poor in spirit depend on God.

6 Steps to stop the battle of money in your family
The Adaptation Level Principle: We adapt to the changes of life, and soon these changes become “the norm.” Even babies do this! Kicking to make a crib mobile dance is fun! Attach a more complex mobile and infants are enthralled. But bring back the simple mobile and babies fuss, they’ve adapted! How do we avoid this?

1 Have family members assess individual desires.
2 Plan a time to review priorities.
3 Take notes in a Family Desires notebook. Work as a team so that your decisions reflect your true values; try to discern God’s will for your family.
4 Gather and review past entries. The long-term perspective aids recognition that needs have been met in the past.
5 Write “Thank you” beside older entries when they’re granted.
6 Make a footnote when the desire wasn’t granted but something better happened. Become poor in spirit and delight in the kingdom of God.

by Dr. Cathleen McGreal

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