We Are All Economists
With Black Friday and Cyber Monday setting all kinds of sales records this year, it is hard to escape just how monetized the Christmas season has become. Whether or not you participated in these shopping extravaganzas, this time of year we are well aware of our personal economies as we make our lists and check them twice. The same is true for our businesses as we assess our year-end sales figures and project what our tax bills will be. Regardless of one's focus, personal or professional, as Christians our understanding of economics is important and extends into all areas of our lives.
The article below by Joseph Russell helps to deepen our understanding of economics and the significant role it plays in how we live our individual lives, how we live in community, and how we live so that we might participate in advancing God's Kingdom.
We Are All Economists
(by Joseph Russell)
We all think economically, Christians included, whether or not we know it. We all make choices about how to obtain and spend scarce resources. Most of us also care deeply about how to deal with scarcity, distribute wealth, and maximize prosperity throughout our society. The only difference is how clearly we think through these choices and valuations.
One of my economics professors in college used to make the point that even Mother Teresa was “greedy” in the sense that she constantly chased after the next convert, the next opportunity to serve, or the next prospect for expanding her ministry. She always wanted more.
We all want different things and we each pursue them with zeal. That makes us inherently economically-minded creatures.
Economist Paul Heyne expressed this sentiment beautifully in his landmark book, The Economic Way of Thinking:
I like to summarize the economic way of thinking in a short sentence that states its basic assumption: All social phenomena emerge from the choices of individuals in response to expected benefits and costs to themselves.
Christians possess a special calling to understand economics more deeply. Understanding economics provides important benefits for Christians as they minister within the Church and to society at large.