Doctor of Leadership in Global Perspectives: Crafting Ministry in an Interconnected World

Learning what it means to be human, but not from the market

Written by: on March 2, 2023

Five years ago, my wife, Laura, and I moved from Southern California to Oregon. This was a dream come true. For years I had the vision of pastoring in the Pacific Northwest. An opportunity presented itself, we packed, and drove north. Dream come true.


It wasn’t long after we arrived that the dream became a nightmare. Laura and I were offered jobs at a church. But Laura received a full-time job offer. Mine was a part-time, entry-level youth ministry position. Though it was a pay raise for Laura, my massive pay cut caused our newly-married monthly budget to become even tighter.


The next few months provided a crisis of identity, feelings of failure, and insecurity. How would I explain our financial situation to my parents or my new wife’s parents? Was this the husband my father and mother-in-law expected for their daughter?


Unbeknownst to me, I had fallen victim to the entanglement of my identity with the market reality. This is due to the change brought upon society through the self-regulating market (SRM). Karl Polanyi’s book, The Great Transformation[1], highlights the immense impact the transition from pre-industrial to industrial had upon society at every level – sociologically, politically, and economically. A fundamental transition Polanyi focuses on is the disorganization and re-organization of societal norms due to the emergence of SRM.[2]


The market was originally at the mercy of social-institution regulation, such as the church or state. Dr. Jason Clark utilizes Polanyi’s work in understanding the entanglement of Evangelicalism and capitalism. Clark points out the move of separation from entity-regulation to self-regulation in the market and what that caused: “Indeed, it was religion which held capitalism at bay, being able to ‘discipline’ behaviours away from motives for gain. For Polanyi, the defining feature of capitalism is the emergence of the self-regulating market (SRM), where, for the first time in history, the market was disembedded from social relationships, such as those of religion.”[3]


The market was separated from the social fabric of society, which opened the door for learning who we are in relation to the market. Clark continues, “Polanyi provides us with two pathogenic mechanisms of the market: the problem of the separation of state and market, and the ethical impoverishment of society, in which humans are reduced to a Homo oeconomicus understanding of humanity.”[4]


People who, generally speaking, used to find their worth, status, and identity through social institutions such as family, locality, and religion, now found their self-understanding through the market. This opened the door to a new understanding of ethics based on the market.


Because of this entanglement, there is a Gospel opportunity to help people learn their self-understanding in light of Jesus as well as learn what it means to be human, not from the market, but through the teachings of Rabbi Jesus.


Five years ago, the message I continually repeated to myself was “My worth is not in my net worth. My identity is not in how much money I make.” In partnership with God’s Spirit, this refrain aided me in dislodging the anxious tie money has to my heart. This is an ongoing internal dialogue, for I am continually in process. Through pay raises and job losses, promotions and unexpected car repairs, my worth is not found in my net worth. I am daily fighting the heart battle of trusting God, and not money.


“No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.”[5]


[1] Karl Polanyi, The Great Transformation: The Political and Economic Origins of Our Time, 2nd Beacon Paperback ed (Boston, MA: Beacon Press, 2001).

[2] Ibid. 3-4.

[3] Jason Paul Clark, “Evangelicalism and Capitalism: A Reparative Account and Diagnosis of Pathogeneses in the Relationship” (2018). Faculty Publications – Portland Seminary. https://digitalcommons.georgefox.edu/gfes/132, 124.

[4] Ibid. 133.

[5] The New International Version (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2011), Mt 6:24.

About the Author


David Beavis

David is Australian by birth, was raised in Southern California, and is the Youth and Young Adults Pastor at B4 Church in Beaverton, Oregon. David and his wife, Laura, live in Hillsboro with their dog, Coava (named after their favorite coffee shop). M.A. Theology - Talbot School of Theology B.A. Psychology - Vanguard University of Southern California

8 responses to “Learning what it means to be human, but not from the market”

  1. David – Thank you for sharing your personal story along with the summary of Polanyi’s work. Jesus spoke about money so often for a reason. In your work as a pastor, how do you help people recognize and deal with the tension of putting finances above God in their lives?

    • mm David Beavis says:

      Hi Laura,

      Honestly, I don’t have a good answer for that. I have no standard way of helping folks recognize and repent of the money idol in their hearts. Maybe because it is a daily fight with my own heart to detangle money from my worship.

      There is a young man who is a part of our young adults ministry who tithes with his time through volunteering. But he does not with his finances. The reason being is because he grew up in a household where money was tight. This shaped him significantly. I guess he and I will both learn through the pastoral conversations we have.

  2. mm Becca Hald says:

    David, as usual, superb summary of the reading. Thank you for sharing so vulnerably your insecurities. I can relate to a degree. I know there are different expectations of men in society. I have had to learn that my worth is not in a paycheck. I stopped working just before my son was born and have not been paid anything more than an occasional stipend since that time. For so long, I devalued my contribution to my marriage. I saw my husband’s paycheck as “his money” and felt like I had to ask permission to spend anything. We have been blessed in that I did not need to work and was able to stay home with our children. Even as I type that, I can seen the implicit bias in my writing. I worked, I just did not get paid. It is so hard to reframe our thinking and remember that our worth is not based on finances. I love how you put it. “My worth is not in my net worth. My identity is not in how much money I make.” I have gotten much better, but clearly have a long way to go in remembering this. Thank you for the reminder.

    • mm David Beavis says:

      Thank you Becca. Yes, this is very similar experience of feeling like you didn’t have the right to spend money and had to ask “permission”, though, I’m sure, your husband didn’t hold that have over you. For the first five years of our marriage, my wife has made more money than me. That has shifted recently. She has launch a new interior design business. I’m helping her track the business finances as her “volunteer CFO.” We’re in the days of small beginnings right now. But I look forward to and I’m confident that her business will take off and she will be making much more money than me again. But I’m not feeling insecure about that. Aside from that insecurity stemming from out-dated patriarchal culture, this is what marriage is all about. And I’m here for it.

  3. David,

    Great post, I enjoyed learning about you. I appreciate how you closed this out with the mammon spirit. It is one of the biggest principalities in the Northwest.

    Bless you, way to overcome.

  4. mm Chad McSwain says:

    Thanks for sharing this and great summary of the ideas at hand. It certainly is a challenging thing to navigate identify and salary. What was your wife’s perspective? Do you parents read your blog posts?
    As a church leader, what have you noticed is helpful to lead our church members into seeing their identity differently than through the market place?

    • mm David Beavis says:

      Thank you Chad. As far as my wife’s perspective, she thinks far less about money than I do. She doesn’t have a 5, 10, and 50 year vision for our finances. She just wants to know we are stable financially. And to my knowledge, my parents do not read my blog posts. In regards to that final question, I think developing a theology of suffering that involves our identity and hope being secure no matter what comes our way is a good starting place. Jesus’ journey in the wilderness for 40 days is the model. His identity was stated clearly by the Father as the Spirit descended on him. He journeyed in the desert and was tempted with sustenance, celebration, and power. All things that our identity can be caught up in.

  5. Alana Hayes says:


    What a great and personal post! I appreciate you showing us a spot in your life!

    I think it’s so easy for us to get caught up in finances because it does not matter what you do… it does take money to live. Whether you are very frugal and make a lot of money or very frugal and living paycheck to paycheck… money is work.

    What do you do when your dialogue needs an adjustment? Do you have a specific prayer?

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