Recently a survey was released that gave seven surprising tips for saving money when you shop. Honestly, some of them weren’t all that surprising (ie. don't shop when you're hungry). But one tip definitely caught me off guard: don't buy in bulk.
Wasn’t picking up the sixty-four roll toilet paper value pack supposed to save me cash down the road? Wasn’t the jumbo tub of mayonnaise supposed to be cheaper for me in the long run?
Apparently not. When we have more...we use more.
With a gallon of ketchup in the fridge, there’s no reason not to squirt a little extra on your hamburger. With twenty-four identical pairs of white socks in the drawer, there’s no need to hang on to one or two that get a small hole in the bottom. With the life-size box of Cheerios in the pantry, there’s no purpose in not completely filling your bowl – even if you’re not all that hungry.
Conservation, I've found, is born out of need. Until many of us have a bona fide reason to "go easy", we don't. (No one ever thought of recycling before the dumps started filling up and forests started being depleted.)
Cans of soda may be more expensive per ounce than a two-liter, but I guarantee you’ll go through the exact same amount much faster when it’s in the bottle than when it's in the can. There's more to be had...so we do. When the gas light goes on in the car, it’s natural for most people to drive more conservatively. To take fewer trips. To consolidate their errands. Not so with a full tank.
The point for you and me? While it seems like doing or being everything to everybody (I'll call it "living in bulk") is a sign of effectiveness or competence, it's actually the just the opposite. Instead of being everything to everyone, we eventually become nothing to everyone. In fact, three things happen when we try to "live in bulk":
1. We poorly maintain our relationships.
2. We needlessly waste our abilities.
3. We carelessly dilute our calling.
God's plan for your life (and mine) never involves ignoring our families for the sake of our job or our church. It never involves doing everything sort of well and nothing very well. It never involves watering our lives down to the point that we can't possibly make an impact.
Read Romans 12:8 and you'll notice it's full of "ifs" and not "ands."
"IF your gift is to encourage others, be encouraging. IF it is giving, give generously. IF God has given you leadership ability, take the responsibility seriously. And IF you have a gift for showing kindness to others, do it gladly."
You and I are on this planet to be an "if" not an "and." We're charged with making a difference, not to everyone, but to someone. We're called to be a small part of the Body of Christ, rather than have Christ be a small part of our body.
The temptation is to do it all, but "living in bulk" merely meets our own needs...not anyone else's.