Trading free food for generosity

MONEY | Ricardo Calles | 4 mins

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When I was in college, I used to scour social media, searching for any events that promised a free meal if you just showed up. Since graduating and getting a “real” job, I feel like I now have more money in my pockets than I have ever had during my college years. But there are times in which I feel I have zero control over my finances. I feel the pressure to build some sort of financial security here on earth. I think about my future wife, my future kids (don’t tell my parents I am even thinking about kids yet), my family’s hopes and their dreams, and my ability to financially support them. There are days where all of these dreams seem impossible, and I will never be able to get to my financial goals.

I began my college years with a lot of ambition. I was a chemistry major, and if you asked me why, I would have told you that it was because I liked chemistry a lot. But the truth was that I was a chemistry major because I desired financial stability. I needed to build up a bank of wealth for my future family. During my freshman year of college, I began attending a church called Crossroads. I had been following Jesus for the last three years, and Crossroads was a place where I was being challenged to think about all the areas of my life. I had goals of where I wanted to be professionally and financially when I graduated college. But God had greater plans for me.

One day during my freshman year of college, I was spending time alone just thinking about whether I wanted to continue as a chemistry major. A question popped into my head. “Is there someone in this world whose life is different because of how I manage my finances today?

Today — not in the future. I did not have a response. I had become so focused on myself and building wealth and security for myself. Deep down, I felt like this search for security was a trap, enslaving me to a never-ending quest for more and more money. I was trying to achieve goals of a number in my bank. To be honest, I was obsessed with a number that would never be high enough. I knew I had the option to be obsessed with numbers in my bank account or do what God calls me to do — pour out my life, including my finances, for others.

It became clear to me that I needed to align my heart with the things of God — and that meant my finances. I began giving to my church, Crossroads, and to things that would leave an impact. I worked a small job as a college student that didn’t pay much. I can’t tell you that the $12 dollars that I gave to my church weekly made a huge dent in the world, but my heart began to be molded into what God is passionate about: people. Surprisingly too, I was able to save a little more money than when I was all about acquiring wealth. I no longer found myself searching the university’s social media for free food.

I look back on my college years and I see a God who was at work. I took a big future pay cut and switched my major from chemistry to education and became a teacher. God not only changed my view on money, but my heart was changed to be more like God’s. I get to serve His people. Money is not something that I need to live and die for. I can’t say that I am perfect at the way that I manage my money or that I have it all figured out. I’m still grateful when people bring me free food once in a while, but the thing that has brought me the most joy is knowing that someone’s life is different as a result of my giving. It’s not because of numbers in a bank account, but because of the life-changing work God is doing around me and that He is inviting me to partner in.


Written by

Ricardo Calles

World traveler. Spanish Teacher. Believer. Lover of learning and teaching kids.

Published on Mar 8, 2018