Summary: We are called to be a blessing with our finances.
Introduction: How do I keep wealth from ruining my family?
A weird thing happened to me. I did very well starting from nothing. I graduated from college with nothing, got married with nothing, and got rich-at least by a kid from Antioch, Tennessee, standards. I had about $4 million worth of real estate by the time I was 26 years old.
But I borrowed too much money, did some stupid things, and lost everything. In the process of losing everything and having to start over, I discovered God's ways of handling money. I read the Bible and things that people like Larry Burkett and Ron Blue were writing in those days. That was 25 or 30 years ago.
And as a person with a finance degree, the academic underpinning, and all the letters and licenses after my name, learning what God's Word said about money was really interesting to me. It was a natural gravitational pull for me in my spiritual walk. I was a baby Christian at that time.
And so I went from having nothing to having a lot to having nothing to starting to apply these principles. And they worked! And that started to create a problem for me. Because when I started to build wealth the second time, I was a Christian. I started having worries and thoughts that I didn't want to be that guy. You know the one I'm talking about.
Have you ever worried that if you've got enough wealth that it would ruin your life because you've seen other people have that happen? You've watched people who became wealthy all of the sudden or through an inheritance. They were okay before the money, but then they got money, and they weren't. It was not a blessing. It ruined their life.
I didn't want to be that guy. I'd already been through one ride up and down because I was stupid-not because I was arrogant, I was just stupid. And I just didn't want to be that guy. Worse than that, when you do God's ways of doing things, did you know they work? And so I'm doing God's ways of handling money, and it's working. So I'm starting to have some money.
I'm out of debt, I've got an emergency fund, I'm investing for the future, the mutual funds are building up. I'm starting to have some money. And so the thought Am I going to mess me up? is a real concern. Worse than that, I started thinking, Is this going to screw up my kids?
Do you want to see some screwed-up kids? Let me tell you, there are two types of rich kids: screwed up and not. There is no middle ground. They're freaks, or they're the best on the planet. And I've met them.
I've met generationally wealthy families all over this country. I know a bunch of them. I know a bunch of them that are Christians, and there are some incredible third-, fourth- and fifth-generation young people out there walking in wealth-and there's some fruit loops. Y'all see them. It's called reality TV, isn't it?
I didn't want that to happen to me, so I started studying Scripture.
And now we've been doing financial coaching in our organization, nationwide on radio, in classes and in one-on-one sessions for 25 years. I mean, we've got our hands on it. We know what's going on.
And so I started seeing these people progress through the process from broke to not, and I started wondering what the Bible had to say about this natural progression-this wealth evolution, if you will-that I was observing.
And I think I figured it out. I'm going to share it with you. Then you can decide if I figured it out. But I'm pretty sure I've discovered a biblical pattern for wealth and how it's supposed to work in your life if it's going to be a blessing.
A Biblical Framework: Now, Then, Us, Them
The first thing you start with is what we call Now.
Now is, "I kind of got my head down and I'm paying my bills. I have to pay the light bill; I have to put food on the table. Thank God it's Friday. Oh, God, it's Monday." Y'all know what I'm talking about? All the money comes in, and all the money goes out. I'm just paying payments and working-and it's not working.
I just feel like a rat in a wheel, and that's where a whole lot of people are. They're stuck in the Now. They just run, run, run, and run but get nowhere.
But then when you insert biblical principles into their lives, they start to win. And it's okay, by the way, that you started with Now because the Bible says to take care of your own household first or you're worse than an unbeliever. You're supposed to take care of your kids before you have some grandiose ministry thing over here.