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Tom Petersen works at a company in the Midwest, where he processes e-mail, attends meetings and recalibrates management expectations. His book of essays on work and faith is currently lurking outside of publishers’ back doors, trying to meet a naïve editor. Contact him at www.HisWorkInProgress.com.

 
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Wanting What the Other Guy Has

By Tom Petersen
www.HisWorkInProgress.com

CBNMoney.com I have a covetous eye. I want what I don’t have. If someone else has it, I want it twice as badly.

Unfortunately, in this day and age, I believe that qualifies me as “normal.”

But I think I have a particularly bad case of covetousness. I keep a running tally of who has what. I’m particularly interested if what Who has is what I don’t have. (My apologies to Abbot and Costello.)

Not knowing what I’m missing
It’s particularly telling that I usually don’t want something until I see that someone else has it. I didn’t realize I needed an expensive video gaming system until my brother got one. I also never knew I needed a flashy luxury sports car until a friend replaced his old truck with a snazzy roadster. I got so fixated about it that I sat on my doorstep every Saturday waiting for the newspaper carrier to bring the weekend car classifieds. I tried to convince my wife that my 11-year-old Jeep was due for an upgrade. (I backed off when she said her husband, at almost four times older than the Jeep, wasn’t looking too good, either.)

My covetousness struck again when we visited a family from church who owned a cabin on a lake. Suddenly I wanted one, too. Never mind that I can’t swim, faint when I see spiders and can’t pay all the bills for one house, let alone two. After visiting the family on the lake, I felt that failing to have two mortgages for my children to pay off would unfairly disadvantage my family for generations to come.

Wanting at work
My covetousness is on overdrive at work. You might say I always believe the grass is greener in the other cubicle.

For example, I was perfectly happy in my job until a colleague got a promotion. Within moments, I felt that I had fallen behind and needed a promotion – or a completely new job. I was happy parking my (perfectly fine) Jeep in a parking lot six blocks away from the office, until I rode to work with someone who parked inside the building where we work. I thought my annual compensation was just fine (and probably more than I deserved) until I received an e-mail from a job search site. According to the note, someone with my skills and education could be earning twice as much money! (Which probably meant I could have owned at least two sports cars AND a cabin!)

Covetousness equals lack of contentment
My covetousness probably would have continued unabated until I heard a speaker say that covetousness is a kind of ingratitude toward God. When we want what others have, this speaker said, it means we’re not content with the gifts that God has given us. The author of Hebrews says it all in a few words.Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, ‘Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.’”  Hebrews 13:5 (NIV). And if you’re really looking to explore the vanity of covetousness, see what Solomon says in Ecclesiastes. We shouldn’t covet what God has gifted to someone else – either spiritually, physically or materially – if that’s not what He has in mind for us.

My pastor talks about gratitude being the best antidote to the competitive nature that has us always wanting what others have. By counting our blessings, we can amplify our gratitude and stop looking at what other people have.

My wise grandmother had it right when she said, “A true blessing is having what you want, and wanting what you have.”

She could say that, though. She drove a sports car.

What was the possession or gift that you have most coveted? How did you come to terms with that covetousness?

.Send Tom an e-mail and let us know.

Tom Petersen works at a company in the Midwest, where he processes e-mail, attends meetings and recalibrates management expectations. His book of essays on work and faith is currently lurking outside of publishers’ back doors, trying to meet a naïve editor. Contact him at www.HisWorkInProgress.com.

 

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