Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share. (1 Tim. 6:17-18)

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Stewardship defined

What is stewardship?

Stewardship is an old English term that came out of the feudal system during the Middle Ages. A steward was a caretaker or manager of a castle. The steward was not the owner; the lord of the castle owned everything. The steward knew all the ins and outs of the castle and managed its day-to-day operations. The lord of the castle would be in contact with his steward to assess the state of his property.

The church world has adopted the term "stewardship" to reflect our relationship as a manager of God's property, because He owns everything and we are simply managers of what God has given to us.

Here are a couple of definitions I discovered on the Internet that apply very well to the Christian walk:

  • Stewardship is personal responsibility for taking care of another person's property or financial affairs or in religious orders taking care of finances.

  • The concept of managing the assets of a family business in such a way as to preserve or increase their worth for future generations.

I really like this second definition. As believers in Jesus Christ, we are called to increase the worth of our family business - the Kingdom of God.

So what are you doing to increase the worth of our family business?

Monday, September 29, 2008

Wealth is more than money

Being wealthy is about more than our income, bank accounts, retirement accounts, and so on. There are a number of different things that factor into becoming a Rich Christian, such as:
  1. Strong relationships with God, spouse, family members, friends, etc. (it's a well known statistical fact that intact families are wealthier than broken homes)
  2. Health - sound body and mind (in today's world of expensive health care, it's hard to put a price tag on this!)
  3. Time - those that have more discretionary time to spend with family and pursuing other interests are extremely wealthy!
  4. Owning assets (especially debt-free ones) such as businesses, rental properties, other investments.
  5. Great career or business that brings about the realization of life purpose, joy, and fulfillment.
  6. Location where you live (many years ago, I lived in Florida near the beach. Even though I was dirt poor, I felt like a millionaire living in a tropical paradise!).
  7. Talents and abilities the Lord has given you. These along with a healthy, intelligent mind will be your greatest asset in wealth creation.

If you can balance out these 7 items with a large cash flow, you can consider yourself extremely wealthy!

Prosperity Theology

As we go on this journey, together, I just want to make it clear that I am not teaching prosperity theology. God has a specific plan for all of us, and he uses wealth and also the lack of it to teach us lessons and shape our character.

For example, look at the life of Joseph. He was born into great wealth as a son of Jacob. His brothers sold him into slavery and poverty. Then, he was put in charge of Potipher's household, where he experienced some wealth. After the incident with Potipher's wife, he was thrown into jail, experiencing poverty once again. Then, after Joseph interpreted Pharaoh's dreams, he was elevated to great wealth and power. The Lord used these experiences in Joseph's life to shape and mold him for this ultimate leadership position for the remainder of his life.

Also, look at the life of Job. The majority of his life, he had been one of the wealthiest men of his day. Then, God allowed Satan to test Job, taking him down to almost nothing. After Job passed his "test," the Lord once again elevated Job to even greater wealth than before.

God owns everything, and our test is to prove if we deserve the opportunity to manage more for the Kingdom.

10 (+1) Talents Guy

The Parable of the Talents found in Matthew 25:14-30 has been an inspiration to me as I have journeyed to discover wealth creation from a Christian perspective.

Here's the passage from the KJV:

14For the kingdom of heaven is as a man travelling into a far country, who called his own servants, and delivered unto them his goods.
15And unto one he gave five talents, to another two, and to another one; to every man according to his several ability; and straightway took his journey.
16Then he that had received the five talents went and traded with the same, and made them other five talents.
17And likewise he that had received two, he also gained other two.
18But he that had received one went and digged in the earth, and hid his lord's money.
19After a long time the lord of those servants cometh, and reckoneth with them.
20And so he that had received five talents came and brought other five talents, saying, Lord, thou deliveredst unto me five talents: behold, I have gained beside them five talents more.
21His lord said unto him, Well done, thou good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord.
22He also that had received two talents came and said, Lord, thou deliveredst unto me two talents: behold, I have gained two other talents beside them.
23His lord said unto him, Well done, good and faithful servant; thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord.
24Then he which had received the one talent came and said, Lord, I knew thee that thou art an hard man, reaping where thou hast not sown, and gathering where thou hast not strawed:
25And I was afraid, and went and hid thy talent in the earth: lo, there thou hast that is thine.
26His lord answered and said unto him, Thou wicked and slothful servant, thou knewest that I reap where I sowed not, and gather where I have not strawed:
27Thou oughtest therefore to have put my money to the exchangers, and then at my coming I should have received mine own with usury.
28Take therefore the talent from him, and give it unto him which hath ten talents.
29For unto every one that hath shall be given, and he shall have abundance: but from him that hath not shall be taken away even that which he hath.
30And cast ye the unprofitable servant into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

Here are some key points from this passage of Scripture:
  1. The master (or lord) is God the Father and the servants are believers (vs. 14, 21).
  2. The master gives according to the money-making ability of His servants (v. 15).
  3. There will be an accounting of what the servants do with what has been given to them (vs. 19-30).
  4. Those that are successful will receive more responsibility and money in abundance (vs. 21, 23, 28-29).
  5. Rebuke and punishment for lazy servants (vs. 26-30).

So, are you the 5, 2, or 1 talent servant? What do you need to do to go to the next level in your personal financial stewardship?

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Wealth Creation from a Christian Perspective

My story is not that unique, but I would be considered weird by most Americans.

Ten years ago, I began living the typical American life. I got a steady job, got married, purchased a home (with an almost 100% mortgage loan), and had one car payment. I knew enough about money to not do some really stupid things in life, but I didn't really have a strong foundation of financial knowledge.

Over a five year period, my wife and I had two children, sold our first home at a decent price, moved into a more expensive home, and I started a small business with a lot of debt. To say the least, my business did not go as planned, and I woke up one day having a Dr. Phil moment - "so how's that working for you?"

Around the same time I started my business, I happened to pick up in a local bookstore this obscure book called Financial Peace by some guy named Dave Ramsey. After I read his book, something inside me immediately resonated with Dave's message, and I started rethinking how we were doing our family finances.

A little over three years ago, we encountered some difficult life circumstances which really forced us to get "gazelle intense" as Dave would call it, and we began to focus with laser-like intensity on becoming debt free. We sold our home, used the equity to pay down almost half of our debt, got on a serious written plan. Eighteen months later we became totally debt free and our net worth went from around -$100,000 to +70,000 during that time frame. My wife and I are now focused on spending money on purpose with a wealthy mindset.It's time to do "rich people stuff" when it comes to spending money!

Over the last year, I have been doing intense research and reading on how to create wealth today during the great information age. The Rich Christian, Poor Christian blog is a result of the information I have gleaned in my studies. This is my journey of discovery: wealth creation from a Christian Perspective.