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

Holy Hoarders

Written by: on February 27, 2015

As I spent time this week with The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism I found several things to be of interest.  In psychology there is a terminology known as “the fundamental attribution error” which describes our tendency to more positively view our own motives than those of others when the outcomes are virally identical.  An example would be, when I’m late for my lunch appointment with Phil and Brian, it’s because my life is so busy with all of the really important things that I am doing for Jesus that I was unavoidably detained.  Now, when Phil is late for the same appointment it’s because he doesn’t value my time and needs to get his act together and do a better job of time management… SLACKER!  The same outcome but the reasons behind the outcome are radically different…  Fundamental Attribution Error.


I found strands of this in the book where the author describes how the accumulation of wealth and personal gain was acceptable for those who would make use of it for the greater good but not when the person would simply use it for selfish gain.  This seems to be an example of a pharisaical type of fundamental attribution error…  “I can have stuff because I will steward it for the good of the little people!  You, on the other hand (Phil) shouldn’t be allowed to accumulate stuff because you’re driven by the desire for filthy lucre…”  Hmmm…


Sorry for the sub-standard work on my post this week everyone, it has been a very strange 7 days…



About the Author

Jon Spellman

Jon is a husband, father, coach, author, missional-thinker, and most of all, a follower of Jesus.

14 responses to “Holy Hoarders”

  1. Phillip Struckmeyer says:

    Jon, Hey some day my ponzu scheme is going to pay great dividends for the Kingdom. Right now it is a little tied up in my boat, plane, and two other properties I have just purchased. But some day . . .

  2. Jon spellman says:

    Ha! Funny… But on a serious note, I have seen no less than 2 major churches torn to shreds because of some scheme designed to bring “blessings” to the people of God so that the church can be “equipped”… It’s interesting to me that in most of those cases, the helpful facilitators of “blessing” are the ones in the really big houses with the shiny cars. It’s crazy how we have come to use material wealth as a measure of spirituality. If a person is not pursuing more stuff, we assume they must be flawed in Some way. Somehow, the one driving the big car, MUST be an authority, somehow his opinion on just about everything seems to carry more weight…

    Didn’t mean to rant. I suppose I’m making up for the brevity of my post!

    • Dawnel Volzke says:


      I hate to think of the number of churches or church groups that have been impacted by material pursuits…

      I’ll add one more to your list, and that is working harder and longer. I’ve known many churches who stack their boards with those who volunteer the most hours despite their expertise. I’ve seen people working more and more hours at the church in efforts to “gain more power”.

  3. Dave Young says:

    Jon, When my family moved from Thailand back to the US we went from a fairly prestigious ministry position, that came with compensation that allowed us to care for our family and even save some. For the sake of brevity we left under a dark cloud, we returned to America while it was slowly coming out of a recession. No job, family of 4, job prospects were thin and we frankly needed a season out of ministry. During this season we lived with my sister-in-law, in her basement – for which I’ll always be grateful. Tremendous costs were involved in: repatriation of us and our household, we’d still spent thousands every month while we waited for work, then when God called us to Texas we need to reestablish a household, vehicles, etc. It was very wealthy people that God used to provide for all our needs during that time. That’s all set up (rambling too) for this thought–material wealth can be an obstacle to our spiritual formation or it can be a gift used for the sake of the kingdom. It depends on how you invest it, I’m not sure if Webner’s seemingly duplicitous take is the same, but that’s where I’m at.

    • Brian Yost says:

      “material wealth can be an obstacle to our spiritual formation or it can be a gift used for the sake of the kingdom. It depends on how you invest it”
      That is such a good point. Wealth really comes down to a stewardship issue, just like any other gifts, skills, or commodities we may have.

    • Jon spellman says:

      Dave, I agree. I would say that when our goal becomes the acquisition of material wealth, a distraction is formed. When a person accumulates possessions and wealth as a matter of course while living out his/her callings (capitalist!) he/she has a responsibility to steward those things for the greater good.

      I’m a capitalist! I’m just becoming a bit tempered…

    • Mary says:

      David – you remind me of a journey I’ve had to walk when my husband joined the country club in the area. I found myself more judgmental of the folks that belonged there than I did of folks in the non-profit organization downtown where I worked. Partly because of Jon’s reminder of fundamental attrition error – all “those” people were snobbish, while my lower to middle income friends were normal because I knew them. But I realized that I misjudged – many of Bill’s (my husband) friends at the country club are wealthy and generous. In fact, I’ve come to love many of Bill’s friends. It’s easy to judge from afar, but when we were in need, many of those friends helped. I will say, however, that I’m still embarrassed at times to say we belong to a country club.

  4. Brian Yost says:

    Phil is late for the same appointment it’s because he doesn’t value my time and needs to get his act together and do a better job of time management… SLACKER!
    Jon, thanks for pointing that out, Phil gets away with too much as it is. By the way, I was late for lunch because I spent too much time in Latin America and thought it would be rude to show up at the time you stated. You are just too good of a friend for me to offend you in that way.
    Dios lo bendiga hermano.

  5. Mary says:

    Care to explain the last seven days? Something we can pray about for you?

  6. Russ Pierson says:

    Short but sweet, Jon, and you’ve generated a great conversation with your cohort. I like it!

    I’ve done just a little research into some of the great “barons” whose names and legacies carry on today in some of our most prestigious foundations – Carnegie, Rockefeller, etc. Most of them made their incredible fortunes and used much of their wealth to do good work–Andrew Carnegie, for example, built public libraries throughout much of the United States–but they didn’t always treat their employees, the agents of much of their wealth, with respect or adequate pay. This was THEIR “fundamental attribution error.” And of course, MY error is thinking I would have done things differently. 😉



  7. Travis Biglow says:

    No problem Jon my week has been a life changing one too. Got to reload for this coming week.

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