Consumer Depression Cycle
Many community groups (& churches) suffer from a vicious-cycle of Consumer Depression.
– By trying to provide services for people to “come and consume,”
– they cast attendees into the role of needy. “You need these products, you need what we’ve got.” So
– people’s contributions are not needed (except for their consumption). And
– when people are not needed, they get depressed. So
– they don’t want to go out. Which causes them to stop attending. So
– then these groups to try to produce ever better products & services for people to consume.
The people’s contribution is even less needed, and so the vicious cycle grinds.
Psychologists know that the pursuit of happiness is self-defeating. The more you try to make yourself happy, the less happy you are. You become grasping, and needy. We also know the strong link between community volunteering and mental health.
There is a better way. It’s exactly as Jesus said, “when you give your life away, you’ll find it.”
Contributer Health Cycle
Find out what you have to give. You still have problems? – we all do! But contribute what you do have to help make the world a better place. Whether it be time, money, talents… Even your brokenness you can give to someone so they can make their contribution. And as you give your contribution, your head will lift, and you’ll come out to join in the community with dignity.
Yesterday I spoke with a heart-broken parent of a 16 year old drug addict undergoing treatment. A seismic shift in the paradigm occurred when I simply asked, “What does she have to give?” Suddenly the conversation lifted. The daughter was no longer a problem but a person. Perhaps if she was treated that way more, and her gift asked for, she might give it. Her addiction might be lessened as she finds a new ‘high.’ Her dignity lifted as people looked to her for her contribution, for her self, in spite of her drug problems. That’s the way I want to be received.
All churches, community groups, schools, businesses, media, etc, must consider which cycle they are operating from. The Western default is Consumerism: we call people to “join us because the products are great!” Yet ultimately we herd people home, co-dependant & depressed.
As counter-cultural as it seems, when we call people to give their Contribution to others, they can discover their true Life.