10 Reasons Why it is Good to Be Poor

by Mark Votava


I have been thinking about how God is leading us to be poor so that we can identify with our true selves at a deeper level in everyday life.  Over the course of my life I have become afraid to be poor.  I have been told by the church, by my family and by the North American culture that it is bad to be poor.  But I am discovering that Jesus was poor throughout life.  So here are 10 reasons why I think being poor is good for us:

1. It cultivates humility within us.  Humility is a beautiful quality of our spirituality that is more natural to us if we are not distracted with a fast paced life of pride, accomplishment and image.  When we are poor, we become like Jesus who lived a life of humility renouncing possessions, money and power to live as a servant.  Humility is the calling to discover our true selves, who we are created to be in the image of God.  

2. It makes us less arrogant.  Having money a lot of times produces arrogance.  We become disconnected from what is most important in life, our own interior growth.  When we are poor, we become more concerned with connecting with others in compassion, love and vulnerability.

3. We identify with the marginalized more.  When we are poor, we identify with the marginalized of the world.  Those who are imprisoned, addicted, homeless, disabled, mentally ill, rejected, misunderstood and alone are the ones Christ is calling us to.  Jesus was the marginalized and lives in those who experience the same.

4. Frees us from hiding behind money and possessions.  The United States is a culture of success through money and possessions.  When will Christians stop finding their identity in money and possessions and renounce it all so that they can seek God freely?  Money and possessions teach us to pretend to be someone were not and hide away in our greed for more.

5. We become vulnerable.  Vulnerability is so rare today, but vulnerability is the heart of the gospel.  When we are poor, we embody the way of Jesus who lived in vulnerability throughout life.  Vulnerability is the way, truth and life of authenticity.

6. We become honest with ourselves, others and God.  When we are poor, we begin to embrace honesty with more liberation.  We become honest with ourselves.  We begin to live in our questions.  We begin to push back on systems that oppress, fragment and devalue our human experience.

7. We give up on upward mobility.  We stop moving every three or four years to a new neighborhood that makes us look better, makes us feel safer and gives us more economic opportunity.  We root in a place and stop moving when we are poor.  This place we live in becomes a part of us and all the people who live there.

8. We begin to live locally.  We start to see that without living locally there can be no community together.  Community is always local, relational and embodied.

9. We see our need for interdependence.  When we are poor, it puts us in a place of receiving from others friendship, relationship and support in life.  We begin to see that the American idea of independence is in illusion that causes us to live fragmented, lonely lives.

10. We see are only purpose in life is love and compassion.  It is quoted as Jesus saying in the Bible, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 5:3).  When we are poor in spirit, we become more focused on love and compassion.  We leave this life of accumulating possessions behind to follow the poor one who is the teacher of life, freedom, liberation, honesty, vulnerability and humility.

How can we be less afraid to be poor?