Perhaps that sounds like a two-year-old grabbing at a toy and yelling, “Mine!”

It might seem strange, but sometimes I wish more adults would say, “Mine!”

Of course I’m not talking about the immature grabbing at toys. But I AM talking about a sense of personal ownership for the “stuff” that is in our own sphere of influence.

Think of it from the standpoint of a consumer. You make a purchase, and then have a problem. You go to someone for help, and their response is, “I’m sorry: I can’t help you. That’s not my job.” And you’re mad! Isn’t good customer service nothing more than a representative taking ownership of a problem, and fixing it?

And for an employer, there’s nothing more valuable than an employee who takes ownership of what the job entails. Suddenly there’s no such thing as “not my problem.” The printer gets new paper. The trash gets put in its proper place. And good things happen.

When we don’t take ownership of what’s ours in our personal lives we get surprised when other people don’t care as much as we do about our “stuff.” Nobody but you can be expected to care for your health, your money, your family, your time as you do. Nobody else cares quite as much about your problems. That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be there for a friend in need. But it’s a matter of taking responsibility for what is ours.

What would happen in our personal lives if we took ownership of what belongs to each of us? Here are some things that are MINE!

  • My health belongs to me! It’s therefore my responsibility to care for it, not the government, or the hospital, or the doctor.
  • My money belongs to me! I take care of it, spending it in the way I choose. And I don’t expect anyone else to bail me out! If I need more, I work for it.
  • My family belongs to me! I treasure those relationships, and tend them with care. I recognize that nobody else can meet my spouse’s needs or my children’s needs in the way that I can.
  • My happiness belongs to me! I don’t give anyone or anything else the power to decide how I’m going to feel, or what kind of a day I’m going to have.
  • My time belongs to me! I don’t give my time away lightly. I’m the one who chooses how to spend it.
  • My problems belong to me too. I may need some help to fix them, but because they’re mine, it’s up to me to find that help and use it well.
  • My life belongs to me! It’s nobody’s fault but mine if I don’t make something of it.

For the Christian, this ownership idea can meet with some resistance. Doesn’t everything belong to God? Aren’t I supposed to be generous with what I have, and give it away?

Yes, that’s right. And because my health, my family, my money, my time, and all I have belongs to God, it is even more important that I take responsibility for caring for all of it. God has entrusted them to me. That’s the sense in which it’s mine.

And what about generosity?

When I own what’s mine, I am free to generously give it away. And I can do so joyously. When I sense my soul being full of what God has given me to care for I don’t have to grasp for more from other people because I know God will continually supply me with more.

What do you think about these two concepts – ownership and generosity? Do you think they’re related? What have you taken ownership of in your own life? I’d love to hear from you.