Author, The Happiest Man in the World: Life Lessons from a Cultural Economist
I have had people in the past come up to me and say, “So, Dr. Jackson, just how did that relinquishment thing work out for you, where you and Anna Marie gave away your accumulated wealth and started over? Did you have to take out bankruptcy, or did God bless you for being a good guy and reward you by giving back to you a trillion dollars of real estate in return for the sixteen million you gave away?”
The simple answer to that is, “neither.” God is way more creative and intelligent than that, and he has way more integrity than that. We didn’t give to get. That is, we didn’t give away our things in order to manipulate God into giving more back to us in some sort of quid pro quo game of economics. We gave those things away because that was what we felt we ought to do, and we never suggest that anyone else should ever necessarily follow suit. We needed to push the restart button of our lives and get our priorities straightened out. I personally needed to break the dangerous addiction of wealth accumulation and simply stop it!
I don’t have anything against wealth or people accumulating wealth. But I certainly wasn’t seeking first the kingdom of God and his righteousness . . . and I needed to do that. Relinquishment was the lesson I needed to learn, and spending my life and energies in helping other people be better off was to be my future involvement.
Now, to the reality of what actually happened: everything that we would have spent the accumulated wealth on to buy, we now have in abundance. I’m still not sure, however, just how a thing like that happens. All I can attest to is that, like the widow from Zerephath when she obeyed Elijah’s challenge to her, all of our needs have likewise been graciously met. And then, on top of all that, we were allowed the indescribable privilege of seeing Project C.U.R.E. start from absolutely nothing and grow like a seed from the ground into an entity that has enriched the lives of hundreds of thousands of people around the world. A handful of relinquished goods has miraculously become a multiplied resource for spreading health and hope in over 130 countries.
Allow me to pose this question: Why is it so difficult to base our lives on the possibility of abundance rather than on the basis of insufficiency, lack, and shortage? Why do we base our entire economic system on the trilogy of scarcity, choice, and cost to the exclusion of the serious possibility of abundance? Is there a chance that we are cheating ourselves and our culture by not pursuing the possible?
I’m not into dreams, or illusions, or strange things. I’m a rather concrete Scotch/Irishman. But sometimes I slightly awaken before the alarm goes off in the morning and I review a reoccurring apparition dancing in my mind. It can’t be more than twenty years in the future. I am in heaven (I like that part!) and God is giving me a tour, much like I would give someone a tour of one of our warehouses.
He is so excited telling me about never ending space, and interplanetary travel, and earth, and growth, and life, and chemicals, and systems, systems, systems. “Do you have any idea what you are going to get to do forever and forever, and how much exciting knowledge there is for me to share with you? I could hardly wait to share it with you. You are going to absolutely love the adventure and the knowledge and wisdom available to you forever . . . and you will know even as you are known.
“There was so very much more I wanted to share with you and other humans on earth. But, you didn’t listen. You didn’t stop to hear. You were so preoccupied with arguing and fighting wars over who was going to control the oil reserves, the fresh water, coal, precious metals, and all the other things you thought were scarce. I designed the earth with sufficiency enough to take care of everything and everyone I ever allowed to live there.
“Some people, however, slowed down, unplugged their ears and listened. I was able to share insights and wisdom with them that began to grow exponentially. That pleased me, because there was so much more I was eager and willing to share that would have solved so very many of your problems and puzzles.”
It’s always about that time the alarm sounds and the music box stops. I’m left with the rest of the day to think about all we have missed and how much is right now available to us to see and hear and learn.Next Week:
(Research ideas from Dr. Jackson's new writing project on Cultural Economics)
© Dr. James W. Jackson
Permissions granted by Winston-Crown Publishing House
Dr. James W. Jackson often describes himself as "The Happiest Man in the World." A successful businessman, award-winning author and humanitarian, Jackson is also a renowned Cultural Economist and international consultant, helping organizations and governments to apply sound economic principals to the transformation of culture so that everyone is "better off."
As the founder of Project C.U.R.E., Dr. Jackson traveled to more than one hundred fifty countries assessing healthcare facilities, meeting with government leaders and "delivering health and hope" in the form of medical supplies and equipment to the world's most needy people. Literally thousands of people are alive today as a direct result of the tireless efforts of Project C.U.R.E.'s staff, volunteers and Dr. Jackson.