Ask anyone what their training or mentoring was from their family and friends regarding money, finance, or even discussing the issue of wealth and the creation of wealth, and what would they say? Most would probably say, “Very little,” or the Christian’s view of “It’s hard for the rich man to enter heaven,” or even “The prosperity gospel is so wrong.”
This ignorance or apathy and theological wealth glass ceiling and various economic governors about wealth creation within the church have been to the kingdom’s detriment. When it comes to learning about wealth creation, the church has a disconnect. In part because of sermons like discussing the parable of the rich fool (Luke 12:16-23).
There are 10 pronouns in verses 16-21 of “I” and “my” and “your.” All he thought about was himself. So we stop these various rich issues by avoiding or preventing the healthy discussions around wealth creation? Like those that see the plight of the poor because the “rich are hoarding their wealth” and decide to replace free market capitalism with a hybrid anathema with more government interventions moving toward socialism. It’s cutting off your nose despite your face.
Our American history also contributes to the issues of wealth creation avoidance and establishing government interventions. The Gilded Age, the period from the 1870s to about 1900, came from Mark Twain’s 1873 novel The Gilded Age: A Tale of Today. Similar to Charles Dickens’ novels A Christmas Carol and Oliver Twist, Twain wrote as well about severe social problems which he described as masked by a thin gold gilding brought about by the so called Robber Barons. While some, including Christians, want to take action and get the government involved, the church needs to start training, modeling, and showcasing our wealth creation biblical principles and our heroes.
It was the Christian industrialist George Westinghouse (1846-1914) who shown the light toward the plight of the workers in the marketplace during the industrial revolution. Westinghouse’s Biblical view of capitalism, i.e., starting with the protection of the intellectual property of his workers, is often overlooked by historians, biographers, and the church. Typically they focus on economics that is divorced from ethics, i.e., God’s economic plan.
Westinghouse was a Christian leader for the worker’s predicament, but the various secular spinoff solutions are another story. “The solutions took many paths, such has the patriarchal capitalism of Andrew Carnegie, the welfare capitalism from J. P. Morgan, the unionization of Samuel Gompers, and the communal capitalism of Robert Owen [in England]. There were even political solutions, such as Communism and Socialism.” None of these had the same significance in individual and community results which Westinghouse proved with Biblical capitalism: Prosperous productivity.
Prevention costs less than the cure
Greed is not an amount, it is an attitude. James J. Hill, CEO of the Great Northern Railroad, puts the Biblical view of wealth in perspective: “The wealth of the country, its capital, its credit, must be saved from the predatory poor as well as the predatory rich, but above all from the predatory politician.” Notice that wealth is attacked from the motivation of the “love of money is the root of all evil” (1 Tim 6:10). Money itself is not evil, it’s a tool, but it’s Man’s motives that make it evil. The various secular solutions concerning wealth are costly and create a skewed inequality; the rich get richer, and the poor get poorer. The poor get poorer because they’re enabled to remain poor and existing and not prospering. The Biblical view of capitalism creates equity in the marketplace: A rising tide raises all boats, on a rising slope from $25k/year to $100k/year.
READ: First step of God’s economy of prosperity: Get wisdom
Learning the ins and outs of business, i.e., what most would call “getting an education,” means being taught right Godly business and economic principles. When these correct and accurate principles of faith, morality, law, education, and liberty are taught and put into action by individuals and the church in the marketplace, that is when prosperity has the greatest acceleration.
READ: The Second step of God’s economy of prosperity: Perform work
Once wisdom has been taught, now the various call to actions of work begins. Finally: What does one do with the wealth they have created, no matter how small or large?
Learn, earn, now learn to return
Once the foundations of getting wisdom and performing the work have begun, it does not end there. Wealth, whether $25k, $75k, or $250k, means creating Godly habits at the start, not when you have “arrived” and are rich. Godly habits create, maintain, and invest wealth for God’s kingdom.
Luk 16:10-11 He who is faithful in a very little thing is faithful also in much; and he who is unrighteous in a very little thing is unrighteous also in much. Therefore if you have not been faithful in the use of unrighteous wealth, who will entrust the true riches to you?
First Fruits to God. From your created wealth, you’re to give back to God from your “first fruits,” for the “laborer is worth of his wages” (1 Tim 5:18). You give as God has prospered you so that “you may have an abundance for every good deed” (2 Cor 9:7-8). Give to the church which feeds your faith with quality content. This also includes understanding marketplace issues and the need for “equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ” (Eph 4:11-12). If your church is missing or failing to fulfill these essential components, then find others through other means which do feed you and you’re to feed them.
Too often the church sees businesses as ATMs to fund competitive “cathedral” building instead of kingdom building. Church buildings sit mostly idle Monday through Saturday, not to mention a constant requests for spending money for church programs: should a church ask for more money?
The first roots, getting wisdom, to first shoots, doing the work, results in first fruits, creating wealth.
First fruits should go to those who teach good Biblical business content. Ensure that you’re “fed well,” not just Biblical business milk but meat content, too. Just like eating healthy, you need to have a good, steady diet of correct biblical content from God’s word. The “laborer is worth of his wages” (1 Tim 5:18), i.e., give, to those that feed you well. The heart of wealth creation is for the church to teach accurate Biblical wealth creation content and it starts with God. I’ve personally had to flush the secular mental wealth weeds and replace them with Godly mental wealth seeds which produce His good fruit. This weeding has not been easy, but it has been necessary. An increase in wisdom increases your productivity then your wealth creation, which is this important step.
Invest first. This is a place where “faith without works is inoperative” (Jas 2:26). While the church always talks about giving to the church and non-profits from what you have earned, giving as an idea can be a poorly focused mindset. It needs to change so we can discuss the real wealth creation mindset: investing. Most of us think of investments from a Venture Capitalist or an Angel Investor who is looking to get an ROI (Return On Investment) of four to ten times their investment. But Christians need to reconsider what a Christian ROI would look like and how this investing differs from straight giving or charity.
At its simplest, a Christian ROI would expect any investment would enhance the receiver’s job, work, or business development. For instance, purchasing tools or materials for others to create products or services for business with the emphasis of them finding more work then creating multiple streams of incomes by providing value in the marketplace.
It starts with changing the constant church discussions of “helping the poor, the voiceless, and the marginalized” to investing in everyone. The minute one segments the population (poor) their focus enters into a mindset of “seeing my new, red Mustang everywhere on the road” and they miss opportunities helping the rest. Ask everyone in a morning church service to raise their hands if anyone wanted to improve or grow their economic situation, where the upper, middle, and lower class all mingle. I’d venture to say nearly every hand would be raised. It’s not the number of zeros to the left of a decimal place, it’s about learning God’s good wealth creation habits at all economic levels.
Share second. When it comes to sharing, the idea is to share what property is yours. Most of us don’t think twice when a neighbor asks to borrow our mower or a cup of sugar but consider how to create an Uber or Grubhub business with your property to your neighbors. How about renting your mower that sits idle six out of seven days to a young boy to mow your neighbor’s lawns during the summer?
Give third. As per Corbett and Fikkert’s book When Helping Hurts, giving is helpful or it is hurtful and can enable others to remain in their plight. Their model of giving covers relief, the stopping of the one’s economic bleeding, which then moves into rehabilitation, seeking to restore individuals and communities toward their pre-crisis conditions, which leads to development (or regeneration), where appropriate investments can provide incentives for them to take control over their economic development through work and business. It’s about having more investments, fewer subsidies.
Veronika Scott, CEO of The Empowerment Plan, came face to face with a homeless woman who stated that she did not need her custom designed coat/sleeping bag coat—she needed a job. This turning point shows most of the poor want the dignity of work and to be productive.
The sequence of wisdom, work, and wealth, in other words, is this: Your mindset changes your skill sets which increases your assets.