Posted On March 14, 2019

Lifestyle Creep: STTA!

by | Mar 14, 2019 | Theology

Richard and Pat Nixon drink tea together at La Casa Pacifica, their private home nicknamed the "Western White House," in 1971.

Photo: Oliver F. Atkins / George Mason University archive. Public domain.

A few threads on the Bogleheads forum, especially this one, got me thinking lately about “lifestyle creep.” Maybe “lifestyle inflation” is a clearer term that requires less explanation, but then I couldn’t have put Richard Nixon in the featured image, and that wouldn’t have been as fun.

Obviously, Bogleheads is a secular forum (so much so actually that it bans religious posts), so let’s bring this into a Christian worldview for a moment. Where have we been spending more than we ought without really knowing it? More specifically to our walk with Christ, what idols in our lives keep us from stewarding our God-given resources well? We have practical and spiritual consequences here.

Perhaps my best initial example is coffee. 

Coffee Creep

If you’re thinking that I’m about to confess to having spent four dollars a day on a Starbucks latte, don’t. Your presumption of my lack of taste buds offends me.

My coffee creep began while still on active duty in the Navy while stationed on shore duty in Japan. After having seen a suggestion to buy coffee beans online from a roaster, I started ordering my coffee online. Given our disposable income (my wife was also active duty), we had plenty of disposable income, enough so that I could randomly walk into a Japanese department store and pick up brewing devices without putting too much thought into it. The beans themselves felt a little pricey, though, and they definitely weren’t as fresh by the time they got to Japan. How does one maintain such a sharp focus upon good coffee while having the feeling of saving money? Why of course, roast the beans yourself.

I started buying green coffee beans online. Indeed, they are cheaper green (unroasted) than they are roasted. While I didn’t go so far as to splurge on a drum coffee roaster (stingy, I know), roasting with a stovetop popcorn popper preoccupied much of my time and thought. We even traveled with brewing devices so that I wouldn’t have to deal with substandard coffee (oh the horror).

As I entered seminary full-time and we began to raise our first child, the available time for these things diminished. The old green coffee beans are still sitting around and probably too dehydrated at this point to be usable. Freshly roasted beans are still locally available, but I felt the sting recently when a new coffee shop opened up in town, and the price for a 12 oz. bag was about $17. Ouch, and it wasn’t $17 worth of quality by my somewhat refined standard.

It’s not just the cost, though, when it comes to freshly roasted beans. The time practically requires a separate trip, as it’s difficult to combine with a common grocery trip. The two roasters I really enjoy (1 2) are still a bit of driving distance away. Nowadays as a truck driver, time spent not behind a wheel is precious to me.

Shockingly to me, I’ve lately been buying beans at grocery stores. Somebody help me.

A jar of Creap ("creamy powder"), a coffee creamer product from Japan.

What Else Creep?

Use of finances and time spent on hobbies are just a couple of potential areas of creep. What other areas could use some scrutiny?

  • Prayer and devotion creep. We’re sometimes on a strong roll, and we reap the spiritual benefits. Life happens. The going gets rough. We let things slip and they feel normal.
  • Bible reading creep. See above.
  • Marriage creep. Do we intentionally invest in our marriages in tougher times?
  • Parenting creep. I’ve been feeling this one lately in terms of Bible reading with the toddlers.

Let us be encouraged in Scripture to persevere!

Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.

Consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted. In your struggle against sin you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood.

(Hebrews 12.1–4 ESV)


See all posts in the Something to Think About! series:

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