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My wallet feels lighter these days. It’s not because I’ve decided to go green and get one of those ultra-stupid paper wallets (my definition of “going green” is getting a huge suv in hunter green). I guess it’s more of …...

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Filed Under on March 17th, 2011

Family Maxims #13

By Seth Kabala

My wallet feels lighter these days. It’s not because I’ve decided to go green and get one of those ultra-stupid paper wallets (my definition of “going green” is getting a huge suv in hunter green). I guess it’s more of a figurative lightness than anything else, seeing how I stopped paying with cash where I can help it a long time ago (wife: Where’s that $20 you just had, Hon? Me: Uhhhhhh). I dare say you’d be hard-pressed to find someone who wasn’t affected by the financial meltdown, inflation, gas prices–you name it.

The church is no exception to this. Sad that this organization that says its missions statement is to meet people where they are and help them become better instruments for God has to be constrained from achieving this stated objective by something as crass as money. No humor here. Just a fact.

What’s even more sad is that the senior pastor has to send out a church-wide email reporting congregational back-stabbing, biting comments, and all manner of negativity directed toward him and his staff after they made the difficult decision to lay off several staff members and curtail the hours of others. The purpose of the email was to not to judge, but rather to remind the congregation that no good can come from spreading discord. A dissonant chord does not magically resolve into consonance.

Prior to this email, I watched the weekly numbers reported in the bulletin turn an ever more arterial shade of red, until the “received to date” and “needed to date” figures for the current fiscal year were nearing a $100,000 discrepancy. Rather than getting out the give-or-else cattle-prods and tasers, the church took the fiscally-responsible measure of cutting expenses to balance the budget–the one financial tool they could control.

And what did they receive in return for this act of reasonableness? This attempt to keep the majority of operations that will help people running with the least amount of hiccup? This unpalatable act brought on by forces out of anyone’s control? They received criticism.

I ask you, is it better for the church to fold and sever the umbilical between all dependents, or is it better to hurt a few in service of the whole? The answer depends on your point of view, and no matter where you’re coming from, the decision they were forced to make really f—ing sucked.

But they did it with an eye on long-term vision, and as much as we might disagree, we need to remember that free coffee and donuts aren’t free, and maybe we should be reaching for those wallets–paper or otherwise–more often, and not claim sainthood status and declare distasteful church leadership decisions, WHICH WE DIDN’T HAVE TO MAKE (oh, those wonderful hypotheticals; those “if I were you …”s; they really save our ass, don’t they?), to be deplorable.

Under penalty of a bolt from the blue (an electrical charge that will kill us, for you non-literary types), the Kabala family shall not spread hatred through the use of negative speech or any other form of communication–emphasis, facebook–when the church decides to lay people off because giving is down and they wish to remain solvent.

We might like the view from on top of the mountain, but we should remember that we’re still on the ground.

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Seth Kabala

About: Seth Kabala
Seth is an entrepreneur, writer, musician, family man, and juggler of balls--big ones. He lives with his wife and three children in Portland, OR.

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