“There are people who have money and people who are rich.”
“A wise man should have money in his head, but not in his heart.”
“I've got all the money I'll ever need, if I die by four o'clock.”
Money. What a concept! What a reality! Most of us need it. Most of us want it. Most of us want more of it, no matter how much we have. It causes problems, the lack of it causes even more problems, and the fear of the lack of it causes even more problems. The apostle James was right when he said, “The love of money is the root of all evil.” The second root is the fear of the lack of money.
In the movie Any Given Sunday, one football player, played by Dennis Quaid, an older man by pro football standards, tells his wife he doesn’t want to play anymore. Her response is to slap his face. This is what the fear of the lack of money can do to people. It can twist relationships and twist people. I have often had improper orientations around money, based in the past, the present and the future. When I change those orientations, I can be happier and perhaps even make more money.
A more important orientation, however, is the beliefs we have about money. Perhaps we’ve heard the following:
· Money is evil.
· Money will make me happy.
· Money will solve all my problems.
Even King Solomon said, “Money is the answer to everything.”
So what are the healthiest beliefs? First I need to know (or admit) my beliefs and desires. I also have to admit my own conflicts about it.
The truth is I’m always happier and more relieved when I have money. I like earning it, having it, spending it and saving it. I also like giving it away. Here are my desires with regard to money:
· I want a lot of it, so that I don’t have to think about it.
· I want wealth, but I don’t want extravagance.
· I want to be able to provide for my kids and my grandkids.
· I want a nice house near the beach, but I don’t want a mansion.
· I want cars that run and clothes that look nice.
· I want books and room for my books.
· I want things that work and if they don’t, I want to be able to afford to fix them.
· I want to be able to make my own career choices.
· I want to travel and take vacations.
· And if I see someone with a problem that can be solved with money, I want to be able to help.
First, if money is evil, it’s a necessary one. But I don’t believe it’s evil, any more than the chair I’m sitting in or the computer I’m using. Money is a tool. It can be used for good or evil. That’s all.
Can money make me happy? Yes, but it can’t make me content. Interestingly, I’ve been content during times of no money more often than I’ve been happy while having money. Despite what some say, contentment is wealth. Peace is wealth. Freedom from fear is wealth. These beliefs do not conflict with my financial desires; they complement them.
What is contentment? It’s the feeling of gratitude, of needing nothing more than what one has at the moment. Money can buy happiness, but by definition, that happiness is circumstantial. Contentment disregards circumstances and rises above them. Happiness cannot do this. Happiness is good and it’s relatively easier to find than we realize. Contentment is better and it takes work to have it.
Will money solve all my problems? It will only solve problems that can be solved by money, but it cannot solve matters of the heart. It cannot solve lack of character, bad judgment or poor habits. It cannot fix a bad marriage or a ruined friendship. It cannot restore trust or intimacy. It cannot make a bad person good. In fact, it might make him or her worse.
Money, like pressure, is often like the magnifying glass of our souls. It enables us, and others, to see far more clearly who we are. If I am generous when I have little money, I will be more generous with a lot of money. If I am stingy with money when I have little, I will be stingy when I have a lot. If I am careful with a little money, I will be careful with a lot. All my virtues and vices will be far more exposed and obvious.
Do I need money to be in Purpose? It helps, but usually it comes after I’ve been in Purpose for a while. As Earl Nightingale said in The Strangest Secret, the idea to “Give me heat first and then I’ll provide the wood,” doesn’t work. Diligence and persistence are required. They are also required to make money… and to save it. They are also required to Get Started and Keep Going.