THE DINOSAUR SYNDROME: COMING TO A BUDGET NEAR YOU?
By Bart Cannon
In an address before Congress, U.S. Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) identified the mindset that he believes saddled the United States with nearly $20 trillion in debt: “The Dinosaur Syndrome: Big hearts, small brains.”1
Sen. Paul’s catchy descriptor left nothing to the imagination. I snickered as I envisioned Capitol Hill swarming with brontosaurus from every state in the nation clad in white dress shirts, business suits, and black patent leather shoes. Then, my blood began to boil as the senator framed his argument. “In Washington, it is argued that you are more compassionate if you give away more of someone else’s money. I would argue that truly rational policy is giving away money that you have.”2 Hmmm, that last line sounds biblical.
Before I could say, “Throw the bums out,” another image flashed across my mind. I remembered a time many years ago when I had succumbed to the dreaded Dinosaur Syndrome—big heart, small brain.
During those years, my children were pre-teens or younger. My wife balanced her duties as a stay-at-home mom with volunteer service as a part-time teacher in our church’s private school. Since my salary as a junior-level banking officer was our sole source of income, I frequently had to pull a proverbial rabbit out of our financial hat to make ends meet. Despite the difficulties, we thanked the Lord that our children benefitted from the gift of time with their mom and attributed our financial survival to following the biblical admonition to “honor the Lord from your wealth and from the first of all your produce.”3
We had tithed to our local church for years, but, after a life-changing mission trip to Honduras, we wanted to give more—especially to help missionaries on foreign fields; but how much should we give? Our friends in the full-faith camp proclaimed, “You can’t out-give God.” Following their advice, I gave away so much of my salary that I couldn’t afford new shoes for my growing children, and I had to wear old suits with wide 1970s-style lapels long after they went out of style—under the auspices of focusing on the spiritual rather than the material.
The Dinosaur Syndrome revealed a sure-fire way to provoke a wife. Just tell her you gave away the money needed to cover our children’s needs. The ensuing marital tussles prompted me to search the Scriptures for ammunition to support my position. Instead, Jesus lumped me with the Pharisees for neglecting the needs of my family: “…but you say, ‘If a man says to his father or his mother, anything of mine you might have been helped by is Corban (that is to say, given to God), you no longer permit him to do anything for his father or his mother; thus. invalidating the word of God by your tradition…”4 My motives were pure, but my actions were symptomatic of The Dinosaur Syndrome—big heart, small brain.
Neither a big heart overpowering clear thinking and common sense, nor the opposite extreme, i.e., a generous heart overpowered by a fearful, tight-fisted Ebenezer Scrooge approach to giving, finds favor with God. The apostle Paul wrote, “For if the readiness [to give] is present, it is acceptable according to what a man has, not according to what he does not have.”5 God doesn’t expect us to meet every need. Rather, the Bible admonishes Christians to be wise stewards of our resources and, as it pertains to giving, to be discerning as to who, when, where, and how much.
Would the Lord expect anything less from the way we manage our school’s resources?