Hold on to your wallet
Black Friday never seems to disappoint. Every year, consumers walk away happy but overcooked as they burn a hole through their wallets as the bills come rolling in January.
This year, it is estimated that over 69% of Americans (164 million people) will be shopping over the weekend and into Monday following Thanksgiving, according to the National Retail Federation. According to a survey done by Prosper Insight & Analytics, all consumers will spend an average of $967.13.
These numbers are staggering. It’s consumerism at it’s finest, for sure. So, what’s the problem with all of our Black Friday shopping? Well, nothing, inherently. But let me ask you a question before you go out and crack open your wallet this holiday season.
How do you feel when it’s all over?
When the tree is out on the curb, the lights have been put away and a new year has begun, how do you feel? Think about it. If you’re like most people I interact with after the holidays are over, they use words or phrases like “empty”, “without purpose”, “unfulfilled”, “lacking” and much more just like it. Why?
Because money, gifts and everything nice has never given us the lasting joy we are looking for each holiday season as we head out to empty our wallets. It never can. It was never meant to.
What would it look like for you to approach Christmas differently this year?
Instead of meeting the average of almost a grand by each person and overcommitting yourself to gifts people don’t even want, what would it look like for you to invest your energy, money, life, and self into something that can change the world? That’s a Christmas I want to be a part of.
Several years ago I was introduced to a movement called Advent Conspiracy. AC doesn’t exist to exalt itself or grow in capital. They exist to help our over-consumed culture re-claim the true meaning of Christmas.
Advent Conspiracy is built around 4 practical tenants which help you re-shape your idea on how you and your loved ones can approach Christmas differently.
1. Worship Fully
It’s easy to forget, but Christmas was never about consumerism and those Black Friday deals. It was meant for us to return our hearts one more time to the Indescribable Gift that was offered to us so many years ago in Jesus Christ.
Christmas begins and ends with Jesus.
If we can allow our hearts to return to this simple idea, it can radically change the way we approach this holiday season.
What would it look like for you to allow yourself to focus on the person of Jesus as we come crashing into Christmas? It could change you forever.
2. Spend Less
Let’s be honest — your great uncle Max doesn’t need that extra sweater and your child doesn’t need the 15 gifts you planned on giving them.
What would it look like for you to spend less this Christmas? Instead of 15 gifts, your child receives 10. This will look different for everyone, but the principle is the same. Spend less on unwanted gifts, feel less stress and free resources for things that make a greater impact. More on that in a minute.
Spending less gets back in principle to the holiday let down people feel every January. All the joy we anticipated feeling never came in the gifts. It’s because an object of any cost was never meant to give us the lasting joy our hearts long for.
3. Give More
Instead, give more. Wait — didn’t you just tell me to spend less? You’re right I did. This isn’t about giving more presents. It’s about giving more presence. What might it look like for you to offer more of yourself this holiday season?
In my years working with people who are passionate about Advent Conspiracy, I have seen this play out in a number of creative ways. Give presence is found in a son who purchases a bag of fair trade coffee for his dad for Christmas but stipulates that they can only drink this coffee together over a conversation. Give presence is an uncle who gives his nieces and nephews each a book but they can only read it when they are together, learning with one another.
Relationships, presence and people are what make the holiday season something to remember. When you and I can learn to invest in one another, memories are branded into our hearts and minds that will last for years.
Give less presents. Give more presence.
4. Love All
Remember all of that money you saved on those unwanted gifts? It’s time to give it away. This is where the rubber meets the road and lives can be changed forever.
You and I are called to love the forgotten, poor, marginalized and sick. Jesus calls them “the least of these.” Hear me, this isn’t JUST about giving to your favorite charity. This is about making an investment into something that will carry on past your lifetime. It’s about striving to take a focus off of yourself this Christmas and placing it upon others who are in need.
For years, my church & family make that contribution to an organization called Living Water, which helps to provide fresh water wells in impoverished countries all over the world. It only takes $10 to give someone clean water for life. That is $10 to save someone’s life.
It is believed that it takes $20 billion dollars to provide the world with clean drinking water. Americans will spend over $600 billion dollars on Christmas this year. Do you see a problem with this? I hope so — loud and clear.
Do Christmas Differently
What would it look like for you to approach Black Friday and the Holiday season differently? To take the focus off of yourself and place it onto others — into relationships that matter and into people across the world that you may never meet this side of eternity?
Conspire to live differently this holiday season. Conspire to do Christmas differently. Let’s let Christmas change the world one more time.
To learn more about Advent Conspiracy, be sure to visit their website at www.adventconspiracy.org.
Visit Ben at BenWeaver.org.