- Thursday, November 11, 2010
The best way to build a foundation is with an eye on the eternal. That's the only foundation that is truly secure. The end result is about more than acquiring possessions, accumulating wealth, or gaining approval from the world. Money is a tool that God has given us to achieve His purposes—that's our end result.
Paul addresses this question in his first letter to Timothy. He describes "people corrupted in their minds and deprived of the truth, who suppose that godliness is a way of making a profit. Now," he continues, "godliness combined with contentment brings great profit. For we have brought nothing into this world and so we cannot take a single thing out either. But if we have food and shelter, we will be satisfied with that. Those who long to be rich, however, stumble into temptation and a trap and many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is the root of all evils. Some people in reaching for it have strayed from the faith and stabbed themselves with many pains." (6:5-10, emphasis added).
During all the years I spent in the world of financial consulting, I learned a lot of mainstream financial concepts and strategies for planning, saving, investing, and many other great ideas. Even when I did encounter people who were doing those things wisely, I always sensed that something was missing for them. They weren't truly fulfilled or content. I'm convinced that what most of them were missing was a deeper purpose. Their foundation was not the Solid Rock of Jesus Christ.
First Corinthians 3:11 tells us plainly, "For no one can lay any foundation other than what is being laid, which is Jesus Christ." True life—abundant life—begins with that recognition. Are you living with a strong sense of accountability to God for how you steward His money? Are you seeking to gain approval from Him more than others? If so, that will guide you to be a good money manager and a committed father who teaches your children—and models for them—what it means to have a foundation that cannot be shaken.
Have you submitted your whole life to Jesus? If you haven't and you'd like to learn more, please turn to the appendix at the back of the book entitled, "God's Foundation."
The Richest Man Ever
What if I told you that there's a new Forbes World Billionaires list that has just been published, and a new entrepreneur has broken through to the top of the list? The information we have about his assets and annual income paints a picture that is quite astonishing.
His annual income is estimated to be just over $522 million. Yes, that's annually! His land holdings amount to about 7.7 million acres. At a mere $5,000 per acre, that adds up to $38.4 billion. He also owns significant property on that land—magnificent houses, ranches, and about 12,000 horses and other livestock. There is a rumor that he donated 22,000 head of cattle and over 120,000 sheep and goats several years ago. He also has a fleet of ships and about 1,400 cars.
If you're like me, you want to hear the rest of the story about this guy. Actually, that description is an estimate in today's values of the assets of King Solomon as described in the book of 1 Kings.
When we think of King Solomon, we think of him as one of the wealthiest men ever, but we also remember him for being one of the wisest. Try to put yourself in his shoes in 1 Kings chapter 3, when God came to him and said, "Tell me what I should give you." Even on my most clear-headed and noble-minded days, I have a hard time believing I would respond as Solomon did. He humbled himself, referred to himself as a "young man," and asked God for a discerning mind to govern God's people and distinguish right from wrong.
As you know, God was pleased with that response, and He gave Solomon what he asked for—and then some. He gave him great wisdom and great wealth. God told him he would have "a wise and discerning mind superior to that of anyone who has preceded or will succeed you." Solomon proved that wisdom and wealth can be a great combination if used properly.
For many years of his life, the foundation of Solomon's life was his heavenly Father, and he prospered in every way. But like so many people, he grew complacent, too comfortable or too self-sufficient. Later in life, even with all his wisdom, he allowed himself to be led astray by his foreign wives and their gods. Maybe he grew too comfortable with his wealth and he stopped relying completely on God. He made important compromises and it led to hard times.
In 1 Kings 11:11, God told Solomon, "Because you insist on doing these things and have not kept the covenantal rules I gave you, I will surely tear the kingdom away from you and give it to your servant."
King Solomon is proof that you can be wealthy beyond measure and have great wisdom as well, but if your foundation isn't built on the rock of God's Word—and the Word that later became flesh, Jesus Christ—and if you don't maintain that solid foundation, then you won't be truly satisfied in life. True success is not found in the amount of money you have in the bank, but in pursuing God's vision for your life to the point that you're keeping His commandments.
Are you building your house on the rock or the sand? Since we are going to be focusing on finances, I will ask again, "Are you building your financial house on the rock of God or the sand of worldly wisdom?"
Here's the key question you need to consider: What do you want for your children when it comes to money, how they define "success," and their ability to find true contentment in life?
If your children are young like mine, the answer may be difficult for you to imagine. But right now you're helping them build a foundation for their entire lives. Remember, parenting is about investing ourselves in people who will one day become adults. The goal of your fathering is a responsible 19-to-22-year-old who will one day leave your protective covering. What will his response be when the storms of adversity hit and he faces tough decisions? You and I want godly decisions to come out of our children, especially when money is a part of the storm they are facing.
None of us would ever wish hard times on our children, but I have also seen how wealth can bring its own set of challenges and hard times. Like Jesus said, "It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter into the kingdom of God" (Matt. 19:24). And who's to say what makes a person "rich"? It's a relative term. Am I rich in comparison to Donald Trump? No. What about compared to the average person in a third-world country? Well, that's different. It all depends on your perspective.
In the end, no matter how much my children have in terms of wealth and material possessions, I want them to learn important lessons about money and life by working through some challenges, learning to work hard and get by on what they earn, and most of all, learning to trust in God for everything and keep their foundation built on Christ.
Throughout this book, I will provide you with practical information I am using to teach my girls about money. First and foremost, I will explore some key principles of God's truth about money. That's the most important part of the foundation—maybe the cornerstone, if you will. The real power of what you teach your children will stand or fall based on whether you are firmly grounded in the Word.
I will include some insights that don't come directly from God's Word, but that are consistent with Biblical teachings on money. I will do my best to make it clear how those "worldly" insights can be viewed as expressions of Biblical principles.
Now, let's start building on that foundation.
Excerpted from Dad Cents by Shane Barkley (Timothy Publishing). Copyright (c) Shane Barkley. All rights reserved.
Shane Barkley has a passion for teaching dads how to intigrate Biblical financial values into their children's lives. Shane has a degree in Business Administration from John Brown University and has 10 years experience in the financial consulting industry. He currently serves as the President of Dad the Family Shepherd. Shane and wife, Valerie, live in Topeka, Kansas with their three daughters.
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