My mom’s dad eventually became a multimillionaire, and my dad’s dad lived in relatively humble circumstances all his life. Growing up, I went on a lot of road trips to visit family. We would often visit both my mom’s and my dad’s parents on the same trip. These repeated experiences instilled in me an understanding that I could be a great man regardless of whether I were rich or poor. And unlike the characters in Kiyosaki’s book (which is a good read), the ones in this story are not fictional.
I had been exposed to the contrast in my grandpas’ lifestyles throughout my childhood but had never thought about it much until my dad pointed it out. He shared something with a group of teenage scouts that has stuck with me all my life.
My Las Vegas scout troop went on an out of state high adventure trip, and my dad was one of our youth leaders. Since we were passing through (and on a budget), he had arranged for us to have dinner on separate occasions at both of my grandpas’ houses.
Each night of the trip, before we went to bed, someone would share an inspirational or spiritual thought. When it was my dad’s turn, he told us that he had intentionally taken us to both places. He wanted us to see that while my grandfathers had a significant disparity of wealth between them, they were both great men who had lived honorable lives.
A Formula for Wealth
He went on to share a scripture with us. No, it’s not in the Bible, but its message is just as powerful. It’s along the lines of Matt 6:33 but with more of a spin on material wealth.
But before ye seek for riches, seek ye for the kingdom of God. And after ye have obtained a hope in Christ ye shall obtain riches, if ye seek them; and ye will seek them for the intent to do good—to clothe the naked, and to feed the hungry, and to liberate the captive, and administer relief to the sick and the afflicted.
He broke it down like this:
1. Put important things first. In this case, the kingdom of God.
2. After you do number 1, you will attain real material wealth. He emphasized “will” because the scripture doesn’t say “might” or “can.” It says “shall.” The scriptures are full of promises. We can either discard them, which many do, or we can have faith in and work toward them. But wait – there is a big IF.
2.1 IF you seek them (riches) AND
2.2 IF you seek them with good intentions.
So then why are there so many bad rich people?
I’m not saying this is THE formula for wealth. It’s just one formula for wealth…God’s formula, that is. Some may disagree with this interpretation, but whether right or wrong, it’s the approach I’m trying to take.
My dad shared with us how his dad was a faithful church goer who sought for the kingdom of God, but he didn’t necessarily seek wealth. He worked hard to support his family of 10, but he didn’t ever expect earning a living to be anything other than a struggle, which it was.
My dad contrasted that with the life of my mom’s dad, a chemical engineer and businessman with just as much faith in God and also a passion for learning. He likewise grew up in the great depression without anything handed to him. He similarly put God first in his life. But he also relentlessly sought to build his business to make a positive difference in the world, which he did.
I had been exposed to these principles of faithfulness and wealth for all of my life and found myself nodding in agreement as my dad articulated them.
Breaking Free from Limiting Money Mentality
There is a lot of buzz about getting out of debt, and rightly so. It’s an essential and actionable goal, financially speaking, but I think we should focus just as much if not more so on increasing income.
If we grow up in a middle-class lifestyle, we will likely have a “middle class” mentality. If we’re not exposed to the possibilities of wealth generation, we often won’t attempt to seek them out. In reality, the opportunities to increase income are endless. But it might mean breaking out of our current money mentalities.
My dad was the youngest of 8, with his oldest brother being 21 years older than him. With so many years of life between him and his siblings, he was able to clearly see the patterning and results of the career and life choices they made. For the most part, they did what my grandpa did. They had large families and did what was necessary to support them. Some followed their passion for music by becoming teachers and piano tuners, and another became a truck driver.
I think one of the noblest things you can do is support your family, which my dad saw all of his siblings do, but he wanted more than that. Though musically talented like the rest of his family, he decided to deviate from some of the career patterns he saw in his family. He didn’t want to struggle financially. He wanted to give his kids opportunities that he never had, and he did.
He did it by following his own future advice. He put God first and had faith in His promises while at the same time working smart to build wealth. He always seemed to have time for his kids and for his faith. Next year to celebrate his 60th birthday and his retirement, he’s taking the whole family (no kids!) to Hawaii! In reality, he just wants to take a break and spend time with family, but I see it as a testament and celebration of his hard work.
The Wealthiest Player Wins!
I grew up playing the Game of Life with my family, and I recently bought it for my own family. I laughed when I read the objective in the instructions: “Once everyone’s retired, the wealthiest player wins!” It is so easy to get caught up in the race and to fall into that mindset.
Making money should not be our main purpose in life. Ezra T. Benson said that “When we put God first, all other things fall into their proper place or drop out of our lives.” As long as our priorities are in the correct order, I think pursuing further income is a noble effort. Perhaps there will be times when pursing extra income will drop out of our lives as the quote says, but there will also be times when we can dream, pursue, and work towards something more.
Religious or not, as long as you are prioritizing and staying true to what is truly important, it doesn’t really matter if you’re “rich” or “poor.”
But let’s be honest, having a few million dollars of hard earned money in the bank would be nice.