The next stop on our tour of the seven deadly sins and their impact on “highly effective people” (a phrase which I am using in the popular sense – that is, “effective” at commercial success) involves the twin evils of avarice and gluttony.
For those who haven’t brushed up on their deadly sins in a while, “avarice” is the strong desire to gain, especially in terms of money or power. Gluttony, on the other hand, involves waste and overindulgence – the consumption of more resources than are necessary, to the exclusion of others. I put them together not only because they are evils that “feed” off of each other, but because gluttony, I think, reflects the ultimate adverse consequence of avarice: those who have end up consuming more and more to the exclusion of those who don’t have.
We live in the ultimate consumer economy, so I suppose there is a sense in which avarice and gluttony define our enture culture. However, I think that effective people are particularly susceptible to being seduced into that culture. Here are a few reasons why:
- Their earning potential is usually much higher than others. The potential for over-indulgence in food, stuff, clothes, shoes, cars, etc. is therefore much higher.
- The addiction/lust for approval from others that can become the driving force in the effective person’s life (see prior post) can very easily end up manifesting itself in this area – after all, the most obvious manifestations of success (if you don’t want to endlessly talk about yourself) are expensive cars, watches, homes, clothes, and country club memberships.
- The business world is full of nice “perks” already: ritzy hotels, expense-account funded lunches at nice restaurants, plush company cars, opulent offices, first class airline upgrades. Its very easy to get to a point where you naturally begin to want the same experiences when you’re away from work as well.
As I mentioned above, the tradgedy of succumbing to avarice and gluttony is not only the fact that they are spiritually poisonous addictions, but that resources that could be shared are suddenly hoarded instead. To the extent we become slaves of these sins, we lose our ability to become the presence of Jesus in the world by sharing what we have with others.
So what is the answer here? Anyone have any ideas? How can people who have “made it” in the commercial world avoid the destructive forces of these twin evils?