I am not a rich man.
I’ve lost everything, had my heat, hydro, telephones and cable cut off and even been evicted from my home. Twice!
The experience of losing it all on multiple occasions has served to put me in the position I find myself today. Through the grace of God I am slowly rebuilding my life and although my wife would likely beg to differ, I honestly wouldn’t trade any part of my past for a different present.
Last week I got into a debate with a reader of this blog regarding the morality of wealth. This reader took exception to our mission statement;
We help people reconcile their relationship with money through education and empowerment, teaching them to live debt free and build wealth so that they can retire with dignity and leave a legacy.
Pretty clear right – What could anyone have against a statement like that?
Unfortunately this person misunderstood what we mean by “build wealth” and took it mean that we are preaching a form of “health and wealth” gospel that keeps people bound to the principalities and powers of this world when we as Christ-followers are called to a life of freedom through God’s Kingdom instead. I should have noted earlier that these comments came through a Christian forum that I post to occasionally but the gist of what this reader said and the motivation behind it goes beyond just what many Christians think and speaks to a level of suspicion and misunderstand that we all have about the nature and purpose of wealth.
I blame Charles Dickens. When we think of a wealthy individual today one of the images that come to mind is that of Ebenezer Scrooge, or in my case Scrooge McDuck –
Regardless of how you picture him, Scrooge is a selfish, penny pinching miser who has no regard for his fellow man. Somehow, deep down we all think that in order become wealthy we need to be just a little bit selfish.
While true that many wealth people can tend to be misers, as a general rule that couldn’t be further from the truth. More commonly, what I have found is that wealthy people are both smart and generous.
Take another look at the mission statement above.
The first key in that statement is the word “reconcile”. Money is a powerful thing but it is morally ambiguous. Whether you have money or you don’t is not what makes you a moral or immoral person. So the first part of our mission is to educate you on the nature of money and empower you to change or reconcile the way you look at things.
The second key in that statement is the phrase “teaching them to live debt free”. Talk radio host and best-selling author Dave Ramsey says the fasted way to build wealth is to get out of debt. The bible says that “the borrower is slave to the lender.” [Proverbs 22:7] Nothing is a bigger hindrance to our ability to live the life God intended than the constant bondage of debt. The interest rate game, just like playing cards at the casino, is rigged. This was the most profound lesson I learned when I went bankrupt. You will always pay a higher interest rate on money you borrow than you can earn in savings. The math simply doesn’t work in your favor so the first thing you must do is get out of debt. If you do nothing else we teach, just by getting out of debt you will be further ahead and have the ability to do more for the Kingdom of Heaven than over half of the rest of the world. That’s a fact!
Finally the last part of our mission statement gives us the ‘why’ of it all. We are not teaching you to build wealth so that you can get rich. The same verse in proverbs that I quoted above starts out by saying that “the rich lord over the poor.” We don’t want that! I think that is where a lot of Christ-followers get hung up. Many people think that if they get too wealthy they’ll become like Ebenezer Scrooge. But it doesn’t have to be that way. The reason we teach you to build wealth is not just for yourself. Retiring with dignity means not being a drain on the social system, not relying on handouts or being a burden to others and everything culminates in the last phrase of our mission, to “leave a legacy.”
The only reason anyone should build wealth is so that they can prayerfully give it all away for maximum impact in the Kingdom of Heaven. This is not a health and wealth gospel – it’s just good stewardship.
Jesus said two things that are important to remember when framing this discussion for Christ-followers. First at the very beginning of his public ministry he said;
“The Spirit of the Lord is on me,
because he has anointed me
to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners
and recovery of sight for the blind,
to set the oppressed free,
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”[Luke 4:18-19]
Good news to the poor – Set the oppressed free. Free from oppression of all kinds including financial pressures put upon them by a system that is rigged to make them fail. And then at the end of his ministry he said this;
“All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” [Matthew 28:18-20]
Jesus commanded many things, not the least of which was to help the poor and the oppressed, offer them dignity and love them in ways the world thinks are radical and even foolish. We teach people to build wealth, not to line their own pockets and buy expensive toys but for the furtherance of the Kingdom of Heaven. Even if you’re not a Christ-follower you know that you can’t take it with you, so you still need to have a frank discussion about the kind of legacy you want to leave and we’re still here to help with that.
For more information on The Meekonomics Project and how we go about fulfilling our mission, write to: firstname.lastname@example.org and don’t forget to ask for a FREE copy of our e-book “6 Steps to Financial Freedom – The Meekonomist Guide to Getting out Debt, Building Wealth and Leaving a Legacy” – buy it here.