Thinking Out Loud

June 12, 2016

Follow Up: Christians and Cars

Filed under: personal — Tags: , , , — paulthinkingoutloud @ 3:42 pm

Once again, we’re late today. Our church did its annual service in the park and this year’s was one of the best in terms of outreach and connection. Sets the bar high for next year, though!


Christian stewardshipMy post two days ago about Christian stewardship and the automotive market got a couple of comments which I felt were worthy of a longer and more visible reply.

The general response I would expect is: Don’t over-think it. In other words, if you live in North America, unless it’s in the heart of a major urban center, you’re going to need some type of motorized vehicle.

Trust me, I get that.

What I wanted to do was simply get people thinking. (Hint: See blog’s title.) In a world of scarce resources where God’s people are called to maintain a distinct identity, are we putting our personal funds to best use to incurring a cost on a depreciating item.

That’s the tension I hope we live in.

So yes, my wife needs a car — and I need her to be happy — but it would also be good to allocate those resources to other things and causes.

By doing the one I can’t do the other.

Our personal finances are extremely limited. So we buy the used car, but it pains me to have  to do it.

I think that tension is a good place. It’s not keeping me up at night, but it’s a better place than simply going through the motions of life without a thought as to the big-picture issues I believe God’s people ought to consider.

One comment said,

a car is not an investment, it’s a consumable good like shoes or a phone”

That’s true. Really each and every expenditure I make, no matter how small, should be done with good stewardship in mind. From buying bananas to garbage bags to socks to dish soap, my goal should be to exercise wisdom with the gifts God has given.

If you have loads of cash available, you might see this differently, but when you are barely scraping by, stewardship and survival go hand-in-hand. And yes, you can strain at a fruit fly and swallow a dromedary. We do all the time. We get a great deal on a $5 commodity and then make a $50 mistake by missing a payment deadline.

I think God wants us to be aware.

I think He wants us to think about our actions.

But I also think He wants us to enjoy the money we work for.

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June 10, 2016

Christian Stewardship and the Used Car Market

I don't have a picture of our 'new' car yet, but this is the one we're trading in, taken on the day we got two flat tires in 30 seconds while driving home from camp.

I don’t have a picture of our ‘new’ car yet, but this is the one we’re trading in, taken on the day we got two flat tires in 30 seconds while driving home from camp.

When a Christian is trying to practice financial stewardship, there’s something counter intuitive about buying a motor vehicle of any type. The key word is depreciation, but I think it also has to do with high cost of owning and maintaining a car, van or truck versus the other uses to which those funds could be applied.

Today we’re picking up a domestic, 2009, 4-door sedan. The 2017s will be out in a few weeks — I think; I don’t tract the automotive market at all — which means we’re already model years behind, so this will be the oldest car we’ve ever purchase, but it is all our present bank account will allow us to buy. Even there, we are buying this with family help, given that my current vocation — i.e. missionary — is not providing any income at present; and by “not providing any” I do indeed mean nothing at all.

So we’re waiting for the call that this vehicle is waiting for us. It’s not my dream vehicle — also used; my dreams are modest — but this car will be primarily driven by Mrs. W. to replace the one she’s currently using which is simply not safe to drive.

Yes, there are hungry people in the third world. (Or two-thirds world, or majority world, or whatever it is we’re supposed to say.) But we live here. It’s hot in summer, cold in winter. Temperatures in Canada can vary between -40°C and +40°C. That’s an 80 degree range. 144 degrees in Fahrenheit. Distances are not near. Public transportation between communities is not as sophisticated in North America as it is in Europe. We don’t live in an urban center.

I’m not sure if my social justice friends would approve of my purchase. They might question whether we need a car at all. They might suggest we keep repairing the present one. Or, I hope, they might commend me for buying used.

Bottom line, with the measure of intelligence God has given us, we feel this is the right decision for today. And yes, the car will continue to depreciate until it is basically scrap, like the one we’re trading in today. And yes, it’s counter-intuitive to do this when things that appreciate or are a valid investment seem like better stewardship.

Mixed feelings. Ambivalence.

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