Tuesday, February 9, 2010

The Millionaire Next Door

King Solomon was greater in riches and wisdom than all the other kings of the earth.

-- 2 Chronicles 9:22

If a genie could grant you three wishes, what would your wishes be? Maybe you’d ask for a long, healthy life. You might wish for popularity or fame. Or if you’re anything like Miss America, you’d ask the genie for world peace. But chances are, you’d wish for money... and plenty of it.

Getting rich is a centuries-old obsession. And some have actually done it by discovering gold or oil, or inventing something wildly popular like Google or the Post-It Note. Still others found their fortunes by starring in professional sports or Hollywood movies. But if you’re not quite so talented or lucky, just turn on your TV at 3 AM. That's when you’re bound to find an infomercial promoting a get-rich-quick-no-money-down formula to wealth. Soon, you’ll be rolling in riches - and all in your spare time. (They promise!) And if that fails, there’s always the lottery.

It’s good to know that there are more realistic alternatives. For starters, check out The Millionaire Next Door by authors Thomas J. Stanley and William D. Danko. Written in the mid-1990s, this popular book reveals that many of today’s millionaires share a practical fiscal strategy. They live below their financial means, they budget their money, they don’t drive fancy cars and they’re often self-employed. These 21st Century Rockefellers typically have high incomes, frugal mindsets and started planning for their financial futures early in life. What’s more, many of their money-wise principles just so happen to be - get ready for it - BIBLICAL!

Whether it’s by sheer luck or through hard work, the bottom line is that many people really do succeed at GETTING rich. But what does it mean to BE rich? That’s an entirely different proposition.

First, it’s important to define RICH. After all, most people in the United States don’t live in huge mansions, dine at fancy restaurants or drive $80,000 Porsche roadsters. But the fact is that even the poorest Americans are considered “rich” by the standards of most nations. For instance, many American welfare recipients own hi def color televisions, late model automobiles and mobile phones: things often not enjoyed by the poor in India, Zimbabwe or Haiti.

“Rich” is therefore a very relative term.

The Bible - God’s Word to us - is full of guidance about money and riches. And since most of us are actually “rich” by the world’s standards, it means we have some very special responsibilities.

“Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much, and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much,” Jesus taught His followers. “So if you have not been trustworthy in handling worldly wealth, who will trust you with true riches?”

Maybe we don’t feel like Bill Gates, Warren Buffet or even one of those millionaires next door. But being rich isn’t so much about our income but rather what we do with it. We can start by replacing greed with gratitude for the riches we enjoy: of both wealth and spirit. As the Apostle Paul reminds Christ-followers:

“You will be made rich in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God.”

No comments: