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The Monopoly Mindset


One of my favorite games as a kid was Monopoly. We could sit up for hours playing it. The goal was to buy as much property as you could, and if possible, to buy Boardwalk and Park Place. One of the underlying things that game teaches you is if you buy enough things, you’ll win. That reminds me of a guy who lived in my town. He had a customized truck that I thought was awesome. It had a sticker on the back windshield that read, “He who has the most toys wins!” It’s that same attitude of owning things equals winning.

When our identity and self image is tied to things we own, it’s a pretty hard fall when we lose them. It’s not bad to own things; it’s bad to be owned by things. To discover which type of person we are, we have to ask ourselves about the motivating factor in having them. Is it a want or a deep seated need in us to own them? When we feel we need them in order to feel a certain way or to project a certain image, owning things can be a problem.

In Luke 12:15, Jesus said, “Beware! Guard against every kind of greed. Life is not measured by how much you own” (NLT). That’s the opposite of our Monopoly mindset. We associate winning with owning things and God associates winning with having a relationship with Him. Can you have both? Of course. I know plenty of people who are blessed beyond measure because they give tithes, offerings, and more to meet the needs of others. They’ve recognized that their identity is in God, and all they have is His, so it’s not hard to give away what they have.

We can’t afford to sacrifice our relationship with God in order to own things or to build our wealth. As Jesus said in Luke 12:21, “A person is a fool to store up earthly wealth but not have a rich relationship with God.” Are you spending your quality time building your portfolio or your relationship with God? You can win at life, but lose at eternity. Invest in building a relationship with God. You will find that once you seek Him first, all these other things will be added to you. It’s a matter of priorities and God wants to be first in your life.

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Why following Jesus is like playing Monopoly

I took a 16 hour solo road trip recently. Normally I have a policy against that, but for whatever reason, it just had to be done. So there I was sitting in my car, mile after mile, alone with my thoughts. That’s not quite true, I had Pete Wilson’s book Plan B playing on the stereo. But that was it, just mine and Pete Wilson’s thoughts.

What do you do when where God has you just doesn’t make sense? What do you do when “the plan” just isn’t working out, you get off course, or you lose track of the course altogether? That’s what Pete and I were thinking about on my drive. I remembered some old prayers I had prayed. Not the easy/cheesy ones. I mean prayers to know God better and that He would care enough about me to interfere with my life. What was I thinking? I remembered the first such prayer before my senior year of high school. I had simply invited God to take away anything He felt necessary for my life to belong more to Him. A couple months later the girl I had a crush on all through high school began dating one of my football teammates. Soon after that one of my best friends moved out of his home and our church and in with his girlfriend. Next, my hopes for a national championship in an important (to me) Bible competition were dashed. By the time I graduated, I was gulping for air.

Then last year, a decade later, I had the guts to do it again. Lord, take me to the next level in my relationship with You, I prayed. I don’t have any other explanation for the erratic events of the past year than that God is answering that prayer. That’s when I realized the following Jesus is a lot like playing Monopoly.

In the game of Monopoly, you’ll occasionally land on a spot that invites you to draw one of two cards: a Chance or a Community Chest. That can set a completely new course in motion. You can move drastically ahead in the game. You can win free money. Or you could experience a major setback. You could owe money or be forced to forfeit property. You could even go jail (directly, I might add). The thing is, you don’t know what the result will be until you draw the card.
When we pray for God’s best, it’s like drawing a Chance card in Monopoly. We don’t know if it’ll help or hurt. It may not change the whole trajectory of our lives, but then again, it may. God’s answers may be big or small. They may last a short time or for the rest of our lives. The only way to avoid them is to not play at all. But then what is the point?

I coined a new phrase lately. My circumstances are precarious but my future is secure. And that includes my short-term future as well as my eternal future. I don’t know why God stretches my faith the way He does, but I don’t know any other way than to keep playing the game on His terms. Lord, help me in my unbelief. I won’t let You go until You bless me.

This has been a guest post by a friend of mine who knows what it means to live by faith. Nathan Magnuson is a leadership consultant, coach, and thought leader. Visit him today at NathanMagnuson.com or follow him on Twitter.

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