Even in an economic recession, a massive amount of money is spent within the United States. And Christmastime is always a time of vast expenditures. A recent Gallup poll showed that the average American family planned on spending $764 on gifts this 2011 holiday season, slightly higher than what they planned at the same time for the 2010 holiday season.
That equals a lot of money.
Personal financial stewardship means Christians recognize that everything they have comes from God. We are not the owners of anything. Commonly, this is recognized as an impetus to tithing or giving from our earnings.
We should definitely be givers, no doubt. But as we pass through the holiday season, it is a time we can reflect on our spending. Are we spending too much? Should we be more generous and donate more to our churches or Christian ministries or charities?
These are worthwhile questions, but I’d like to say there is another question we should be asking as well. Is there a way that we can spend better? We intuitively understand we can (and sometimes should) spend less, but when we need to spend, can we spend better?
If there is anything that drives the way the world works, it’s money. Money talks and people listen. If the Christians of the world would regularly spend their money on products and at retailers that are consistently socially responsible, then the world would be radically different.
The good news is that there are several ways you can do this in 2012.
- Do you like chocolate? Who doesn’t? What about coffee and tea? If you buy these products, consider Full Circle Exchange. They verify that everyone in the supply chain of their products is compensated fairly and treated well. Their products are also produced in an environmentally responsible manner. In addition, they give a percentage of their profits to charity.
- Are you looking for fair-trade, handmade jewelry, accessories, stationery, Christmas decorations, and more? Then order from WorldCrafts, a ministry partner of New Hope Digital. Your purchase will support hardworking entrepreneurs in impoverished places around the world. Artisan groups noted as Set1Free are working with women leaving or at risk of sexual exploitation/trafficking.
- Most of us wear shoes. If you buy from TOMS Shoes your purchase will lead to the donation of a pair of shoes to a child in need. Your pair of shoes will help protect the feet of one of the millions of children around the world who are at risk of injury, infection, and soil-transmitted diseases.
- Wear glasses? If you purchase a pair of glasses from Warby Parker then they will give away a pair to one of the millions of people in the world who do not have access to affordable eyeglasses. Furthermore, they use some of their profits to partner with groups that train low-income entrepreneurs on how to sell eyeglasses affordably and profitably.
If you buy from these companies you will receive something for your purchase. It is not like giving to charity. Giving to charity is exactly that, it’s giving. But we also have to spend money. We need things like eyeglasses, shoes, home décor, and we can even enjoy a cup of java with some good chocolate from time to time.
Instead of simply going to the mall and reflexively buying whatever from whomever, let’s think more about our spending and how it can also help to create a more just world.
Mark L. Russell, author of The Missional Entrepreneur, is a widely respected voice in the missional community. He has lived in Russia, Chile, and Germany, and has traveled to more than 70 countries to carry out a variety of business, educational, humanitarian, and religious projects. Contact Mark through www.russell-media.com; www.facebook.com/marklrussell; www.twitter.com/marklrussell.
Editor’s note: In regard to Full Circle Exchange, TOMS Shoes, and Warby Parker, this article does not constitute an endorsement by New Hope Publishers. Nor is it an exhaustive list of socially responsible companies. The opinions expressed are solely those of the author. New Hope does not make any claim regarding the specific work of these 3 companies and cannot vet the charities they may support.