It was early in the morning, and I had been praying, studying, and reading. My study topic that week was what God says about money. Suddenly, in the stillness the Lord whispered into my spirit: “Find five Christian billionaires to learn from.”
My spirit leaped at the thought, because …
You will become like the people you learn from.
It’s a principle that works every time:
- Study Jesus and learn from Him, and you will become like Jesus.
- Study a demonized rocker and learn from him/her, and you will become demonized.
- Study from an excellent professor of history, and you will become an excellent student of history. (Notice I said “study from,” not “sleep in class from.”) 🙂
Studies also show that you even become like your friends. If you hang out with negative friends, you will become negative. Hang out with positive friends, and you will become positive. Hang out with rich friends, and you will become wealthier.
So when God told me to find 5 Christian billionaires to learn from, I knew He had something in mind that would bless me.
Obviously, billionaires must know something about money, business, and work that the rest of us don’t know. So I knew I was supposed to examine these people’s lives and find out what they know.
- Which of God’s financial principles are they practicing that I’m not? Whatever it is, I should start.
- What does good stewardship look like for a billionaire? Whatever it is, I should practice the same thing in miniature.
- What does a billionaire know about Biblical success principles–e.g. writing goals, reading, and exercise? I should make a point of doing those things.
I also knew that I would need to study these people’s habits through a very cautious, Scriptural lens.
Just because someone gets one thing right doesn’t mean everything they do is a model of virtue. We need to learn from people who are better at something than we are. However, that doesn’t release us from the obligation to pass everything we see through the tests of Scripture, in order to determine right from wrong.
Therefore, I will carefully examine the principles to which these billionaires adhere(d). Then, I will eat the “meat”–but spit out the “bones.”
So here are the Christian billionaires whose habits I am studying:
- David Green, founder of the Hobby Lobby chain of retail craft stores;
- Truett Cathy, the late founder of Chick-Fil-A restaurants;
- Mary Kay Ash, the late founder of the Mary Kay cosmetics company;
- Pat Robertson, founder of the CBN Christian television network; and
- Sir John Templeton, founder of the Templeton family of mutual funds (and definitely an opportunity to eat the meat and spit out the bones, for he had some really bad theology mixed in with his Christian beliefs).
I may add additional people to this list, and may also study the habits of some Christian millionaires. Christian millionaires whose lives I am interested in include:
- Dave Ramsey, of DaveRamsey.com;
- Dr. Michael Chitwood, motivational speaker and founder of Chitwood & Chitwood, the nation’s largest financial management firm for ministries;
- evangelist Jesse Duplantis; and
- Colonel Sanders, founder of Kentucky Fried Chicken.
Again, I may add others over time.
So the first Billionaire By-Law I have learned is from David Green, founder of the Hobby Lobby chain of retail stores.
I watched some videos by Mr. Green recently (found on RightNow Media), and I was incredibly impressed with what this man and his family members said. The prevailing message they were discussing was this:
They are acutely aware that God owns it all.
They really pay attention to the fact that God owns everything in the world. I mean, they really pay attention to that.
The Green family has a very hands-off approach to their fortune. They believe they are only managing it for God, based on His instructions, and for His glory.
In fact …
They believe that God owns their business SO strongly that they actually had legal papers drawn up to give ownership of their entire Hobby Lobby business to God. Legally and formally.
In these videos, Mr. Green said that they actually had to have 3 generations of family members sign legal papers renouncing all claim to the Hobby Lobby business and fortune. That was the only way their attorneys would draw up the papers to transfer ownership of the company to God!
Can you imagine being SO aware of the fact that God owns your business, that you actually have legal papers enacted so there would never be any doubt? I was floored by that.
What does this Billionaire By-Law mean to you and to me?
God entrusted the Green family with a really big amount of money to steward. God did not call you and me to help steward it, so we must have something to learn from what they do! And what I see for myself, right away, is:
I have not been nearly as acutely aware of God’s ownership as the Greens are.
As I wrote about recently in Do You Need to Plea Bargain with God?, if I were constantly aware of that fact, I’d never leave a Taco Bell bag in the car. I would make sure the floors in my house were vacuumed and swept at all times. And I wouldn’t leave things sitting around.
If I really were aware of how God owns all the stuff around me, I would take much better care of it.
Since the Lord began dealing with me about this, I’ve started taking little steps to improve in this area. I want to do all things as to the Lord, not unto men! I want to clean my house as to the Lord, clean up the car as to the Lord, and take care of everything around me as to the Lord.
It’s not that I didn’t know God owns everything. I did. But it’s the acute awareness of this fact that changes our behavior.
So I’m trying to meditate on this truth–that God owns everything around me–as I walk through my day.
Those dirty dishes in the kitchen? God owns them. I’d better put them in the dishwasher.
Those dirty clothes in a pile on the floor? I need to hurry up and get those in the washer, rather than letting them wait for days. They’re God’s!
That drink bottle in the car? It’s empty. I need to dispose of it properly, not leave it sitting in the car. That car is God’s, and I ought not to junk it up.
Staying acutely aware of God’s ownership is a different way to think.
It requires us to take our minds off ourselves during the day and think about God instead. It requires us to meditate constantly on Jesus.
But, after all, isn’t that what we’re supposed to do? Isn’t that the point–to take every thought captive to the obedience of Christ?
Yes. It is.
So I’m going to keep trying. After all, the commandments God has given us–even the ones about meditating on Him constantly–are not too hard.
What about you? Are you acutely aware that God owns everything around you?
I don’t just mean “Do you know it?”; I mean, “Are you urgently and acutely aware of it, every moment of every day?”
If not, are you willing to start taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ with me?
It’s God’s Word. These Christian billionaires obey it. Maybe that’s one reason God has entrusted more to them to manage than He has me.
I think I have something to learn. Don’t you?
What is God saying to you about managing His stuff? Are you constantly aware that you’re working unto the Lord? Leave your thoughts in the comments below!