It’s been said: If you’re a believer in Christ you need to shy away from the trappings of wealth and affluence. Christian millionaires or “Christian (gasp!) billionaires” are not good role models. And that is completely true.
Or is it?
Well…it turns out you can be a Christian millionaire (or billionaire), love God, and do great things in the world.
According to a study from the nonpartisan wealth research firm New World Wealth, of the 13.1 million millionaires in the world, 7.4 million, or 56.2%, identify themselves as Christian.
This is in contrast to:
- 6.5% who identified themselves as Muslim.
- 3.9% who identified themselves as Hindu.
- 1.7 % who identified themselves as Jewish.
In other words: IT IS possible to love God, do His work, AND be affluent.
In this guide we’re going to outline the methods they used to move from unknown to well known and from impoverished to prosperous. And how you can do the same.
Before we dive in know this is guide is long. Very long. So we created a bookmark table for you:
1. Want to Fast Track your Success? Go to God First
2. Want to See More Increase? Learn to Give Now.
3. Want to Be More Effective? Stay in Your “Sphere.”
4. Don’t Have Enough? That’s Great! Learn to be Industrious.
5. Want to Read Your Success? Become Financially Literate.
This makes it a little easier to navigate. But anyway: let’s dive in!
1. Want to Fast Track Your Success? Go to God First
When Do Won Chang arrived with his wife, Jin Sook, from South Korea he had nothing but opportunity on his mind. Fleeing South Korea after the assassination of military dictator Park Chung-hee he thought he would make it big in the coffee business.
When he landed on Saturday he wasted no time: he looked through the classified section for jobs, landed an interview at a coffee shop, and by Monday he was prepping meals in that coffee shop for $3/hr.
To supplement his income he pumped gas, started an office cleaning business, and he wife worked as an hairdresser.
Still it wasn’t enough.
While pumping gas he noticed all the fashion retailers drove the nice cars.
He immediately got a job at a clothing store.
Around the same time Jin Sook went to a mountain to pray. She wanted answers to their financial situation. On that mountain God told her they should open a store and it would be successful.
She came home and told her husband God said they should start a store.
And the idea for Forever 21 was born.
In their first year they made $700,000 in sales. By 2016 their company had sales of $4.4 billion, employed 43,000 people, and gave the couple a net worth of $3 billion dollars.
But imagine this:
- What if they didn’t seek God?
- What if they said to themselves, “we can figure this out on our own.”
It’s not to say they wouldn’t have seen success but imagine how much time was saved seeking God first.
Even now business decisions are made through intense prayer. Linda Chang, one of the couple’s two daughters who runs the marketing department, had this to say about their prayer life:
“Every decision that they made has been with thoughtful prayer…I think they get a lot of business ideas and insight during early morning prayer time.”
Christian Millionaires seek God first
When the identical twins Jason and David Benham decided to go into the real estate business they didn’t have a niche. Rather than try to “figure it out” they decided to go to God:
“Interestingly enough we decided we would get down on our knees and commit for two solid weeks; that we would pray to God to give us a niche. And so we did that: we prayed for fourteen straight days. And on that fourteenth day we got a phone call from a bank that said, they were flipping through the yellow pages and decided to call our company…And he called in and said, “My name is so-and-so with a particular bank would you like to sell a foreclosed property?”
That was the beginning of 23,000 foreclosed homes sold by them over a decade.
Folorunsho Alakija is one of Africa’s richest women with a $1.7 billion net worth. She is vice chairman of Famfa Oil, a Nigerian oil exploration company. Prior to that she had a fashion company originally called “Supreme Stiches.” But it wasn’t until she changed it to “Rose of Sharon House of Fashion” that her business REALLY began to take off.
But for this Christian Billionaire the change didn’t come without divine intervention:
“I rebranded to Rose of Sharon House of Fashion because God gave me a revelation that I needed to change the name. It was a revelation initially given through a pastor but I decided I was not going to change it until I heard from God myself. I had a dream a year after the prophecy was given and I saw the new name on the body of my van in the dream and I changed it overnight.”
The Bible says,
“Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and He shall direct thy paths.” (Proverbs 3:5-6 KJV)
Let’s say you had to plan a trip: from New York to Georgia.
You have the car, the gas, the money, and the food.
The only thing you don’t have is the directions.
You can follow signs, do things through test and trial, rely on the experience and understanding of those around you.
Or…you can type the destination in the GPS.
True you will make mistakes with the GPS, you may get off track, and may not have a smooth ride.
But it’s safe to say you’re typing in the destination–and not just gonna try to figure it out for yourself! 🙂
What made these Christian millionaires (and billionaires) so special was that they paid attention to the “still small voice” of God.
Yes they had counsel and had to learn on the job.
But through prayer and praying in the spirit they listened to His voice, His wisdom, and His plan.
Why don’t you do the same?
He wants to see you succeed more than you realize:
“If you will only let me help you, if you will only obey, then I will make you rich!” (Isaiah 1:19 TLB)
2. Want to See More Increase? Learn to Give Now
Before John D. Rockefeller became the the richest American ever…
…before his wealth was 1.5% to 2% of the U.S’s GDP (his personal wealth $1.4 billion; the US GDP $92 billion)…
…before his philanthropy equated to hundreds of millions of dollars (billion adjusted for inflation)…
…he learned how to give at an early age.
His giving began with his first job as a clerk at age 16, when he gave 6% of his earnings to charity. By the time he was twenty, his giving exceeded 10% percent of his income. (Titan: The Life of John D. Rockefeller)
Much of it going to church related activities.
Rockefeller, a devout Christian, was always under the belief his success was divinely inspired. He said, quite emphatically (God’s Gold , pg.395)
“God gave me my money.”
Why did God single him out for stupendous wealth? He believed it was because he was a good steward. In his seventies he said:
“It has seemed as if I was favored and got increase because the Lord knew I was going to turn it around and give it back.”
Even as teenager the young Rockefeller took joy in giving. He believed he God-given talent to make money, was obligated to develop it, and was rewarded in doing so. But he believed it was all for the purpose of wise stewardship:
“I remember clearly when the financial plan–if I may call it so–of my life was formed. It was out in Ohio, under the ministration of a dear old minister, who preached, ‘Get money; get it honestly and then give it wisely.’ I wrote that down in a little book.’”
There was no crisis of faith, no double-mindedness, and no wondering whether he was in God’s will or not.
He believed he was given wealth so he could wisely give it away.
But that belief didn’t begin when he was an industrialist. It started when he had low pay, no name, and big dreams.
Christian Millionaires give to God first
In this culture tithing is considered a hoax, a con, and a joke. There is a never ending argument about the merits of tithing: one group for, and another group against.
In Jewish culture though it’s a little different.
In Jewish culture tithing is considered an ancient formula for becoming wealthy. In the Talmud it says:
“Aser bedevil shetisasher” or “Tithe so that you will become rich” (Taanit 9a)
In other words, tithing is a partnership between the giver and God. The giver partners with God in helping the world, God partners with the giver in business affairs.
In fact, when the Bible speaks about the tithe it uses the Hebrew word “maaser”(pronounced mah-as-ayr‘). It’s used 32 times in the Old Testament.
English is read left to right, Hebrew is read right to left.
The Hebrew language is a language of root words. Prefixes and suffixes are added to build on the meaning of the root word.
So in this word the first letter mem (מ) conveys this meaning:
Changing a verb into the noun of that word
For example: adding mem “to preach” (verb) turns it into “preacher” (noun).
Now taking away mem (מ) from “maaser” we’re left with “aser” which means rich.
So another way of interpreting
“The rich is in the tithe.”
Or with “maaser”:
“The one tithing becomes rich.”
But check this out:
There is enough statistical data that proves the correlation between tithing and greater wealth.
Enter Chantel Ray.
Before Chantel was a multi-million dollar real estate entrepreneur, she was a youth pastor making $9/hr.
She was also using credit cards to survive.
After several years of this she was $10,000 in debt and her cards were maxed out.
One day she heard about tithing. Like many of us she said, “Yeah right! I can’t do this right now. Maybe when I start making some money.” But after months of fighting things continued to get worse and she took the leap of faith. Her first tithe check was $30.
The next day she received a refund check of $300.
She continued to tithe…a close family member felt led to pay off her debt.
She continued to tithe…within a few months she got a better paying job.
She continued to tithe, in fact, she increased the amount. She began a new career in real estate, was the best salesperson, and eventually started her own firm.
Now to be clear–I’m not suggesting that if you tithe someone is:
- going to pay off your debt
- a check is coming in the mail
- or you’ll be a millionaire overnight
Not at all.
I AM saying that there is story after story of affluent people who loved God, who testify to the power of tithing and giving. So whether you are a Christian millionaire or just starting out…learn to give now.
3. Want to Be More Effective? Stay in Your “Sphere.”
In 2009, Simon Sinek gave a Ted Talk. It went on to become the third most watched with over 37 million views in 46 languages.
Though primarily speaking to organizations and companies the main focus was:
People don’t care what you do, they care WHY you do it.
His premise was that regular leaders start like this:
- What we do.
- How we do it.
- Why we do it.
While more effective leaders–the kind that change the world–start like this:
- Why we do what we do.
- How we’re going to do what we do.
- What we’re going to do.
The latter speak from a more deeper meaning. They are purpose driven and as a result accomplish more.
What is YOUR Purpose?
Purpose is defined as:
“The object toward which one strives or for which something exists.”
We’re all guided by our perceived purpose. The Bible says,
“The noble hearted man has noble purposes and by these he will be guided.” (Isaiah 32:8 BBE)
What made these Christian millionaires (and billionaires) so powerful was their commitment to their purpose. They understood who they were and who they were not.
Like the Apostle Paul
What made Paul so effective was that he understood his purpose, embraced it, and never strayed from it. He understood his “sphere.” For instance he said:
“We, however, will not boast beyond measure, but within the limits of the sphere which God appointed us—a sphere which especially includes you. For we are not overextending ourselves (as though our authority did not extend to you), for it was to you that we came with the gospel of Christ; not boasting of things beyond measure, that is, in other men’s labors, but having hope, that as your faith is increased, we shall be greatly enlarged by you in our sphere, to preach the gospel in the regions beyond you, and not to boast in another man’s sphere of accomplishment.” (2 Corinthians 10:13-16 NKJV)
That word “sphere” comes from the Greek word “kanon” which means “a boundary or place of activity.”
When we truly understand our purpose we understand our place of activity.
How do we discover our purpose?
In Christ, silly rabbit!
The Bible says:
“It’s in Christ that we find out who we are and what we are living for. Long before we first heard of Christ and got our hopes up, He had His Eye on us, had designs on us for glorious living, part of the overall purpose He is working out in everything and everyone.” (Ephesians 1:11-12 MSG)
Again: we find our greatest fruitfulness, accomplishment, and success in our sphere-in those things that relate to our purpose. It’s when we stray from our “sphere” that trouble begins.
David Green learned that the hard way.
David Green is the founder of Hobby Lobby–a retail company with revenues of $4.6 billion in 2016. Green, himself a billionaire ($6.4 billion net worth), is known for his generosity and stewardship. He did this by sticking to his “why” and glorifying God in business.
But in the 1980’s he got off track.
During the 80’s there was a prolonged oil boom with free flowing cash. With the free-flowing cash people could sell almost anything and make a profit.
According to Green:
“We had become successful through the years as a crafts store. It was what we knew and what people wanted us to be. We should have stayed in our sweet spot. Instead, we got off track. The attraction of bigger profits in a strong economy made us veer into realms we should not have attempted to be in. For example, we started selling expensive luggage, grandfather clocks, ceiling fans, and even signed and numbered lithographs for high prices. We didn’t stop there. We sold gourmet food for a while and even offered a whole line of miniature brass oil rigs.” (Giving it All Away…and Getting it Back Again, loc 925 on Kindle)
He strayed out of his “sphere,” he just didn’t know it yet. The incoming cash was covering mistakes.
Then came the oil bust of 1985. Money dried up. By the the end of the year, he had lost nearly a million dollars.
Things got even worse:
- Their bank threatened to call their note.
- Suppliers started cutting them off.
- And he didn’t know what to do.
Every day he crawled under his desk crying out to God for help–day after day, week after week, month after month. According to him, God was humbling him and his pride. In time he did get direction. What was the answer?
Go back to your “sphere:”
“I went for lunchtime walks in the park across the street from our offices, pleading with the Lord to give me direction. In time, He did. He helped me see that we had to get to our core business and we had to tighten our belts in every way. We got busy. We found a different lender, worked out deals with our suppliers, and got back to the business we knew best. By the end of 1986, we were out of the red and earning a profit.” (Giving it all Away…location 950)
The Lesson: Stay in Your Lane
There is a “sweet spot” you have..whether you know it not. If you know what it is: stay there.
Be fruitful there.
Maximize potential there.
But if you don’t know your lane: Go to God. He knows your strengths better than You do. He created you.
He’ll show you where to go and what to do. Ignore the voices and distractions telling you to go elsewhere. Your success is in your sphere, not someone else’s.
4. Don’t have enough? That’s great! Learn to be INDUSTRIOUS
So you’ve prayed…
…you’ve found your niche…
…but you don’t have enough help, money, time, or etc. Do you just chalk it up?
It’s here where we “grit” it out and make something happen.
“Mike that doesn’t sound very Godly! Aren’t we supposed to ‘wait on the Lord'”?
Yes and no.
There is a time to wait and be spiritual AND there’s another time to be gritty and practical.
Wisdom knows the difference.
Even God knows sometime hard work is more necessary than having a prayer meeting:
“Then the Lord said to Moses, “Quit praying and get the people moving! Forward, march!'” (Exodus 14:15 TLB)
And one characteristic shared between these Christian millionaires (and billionaires) is industriousness.
Paul spoke about it:
“Let the thief steal no more, but rather let him be industrious, making an honest living with his own hands, so that he may be able to give to those in need.” (Ephesians 4:28 AMP)
To be industrious is to be “diligent, hardworking, and to make a way where there is no way.” It’s the ability to take less and do more with it. These Christian millionaires (and billionaires) found a way to make things happen whether they had much or little.
Case in point: Philip Anschutz
Anschutz is a businessman, who according to Forbes, is worth $13.2 billion. But before he operated a myriad of different companies across different industries and before he sought to redeem Hollywood movies to make them more family friendly…he was a struggling businessman trying to make ends meet.
In his mid 20’s he had taken over his father’s–once lucrative–oil drilling business. But by the age of 27 he was basically broke.
Then one morning in 1967 he finally struck gold: a rig supervisor called to tell Anschutz that there had been a big blowout at an exploratory well he was drilling near Gillette, Wyo. By the time he arrived at the site it was ankle dip in crude oil and the air was thick with natural gas. He got the wells capped, then had the idea to buy up the oil leases before anyone discovered that oil was discovered.
He bought them on credit figuring the banks would lend him what he needed.
By the time he got home he got the news: a huge oil fire in Gillete, Wyo!
He was convinced he was ruined.
Red Adair, the famed oil firefighter, was even reluctant to help:
“Kid, I checked you out, and you don’t check out.”
Anschutz begged…pleaded for help. The firefighter relented. He agreed to put out the fire.
So what now?
His company was on the brink of insolvency…
…he bought an oil field on credit right before it was nearly destroyed…
…and now he didn’t have the money to pay the firefighter who was putting it out.
What would you do?
Most people would have quit, thrown in the towel, and said to themselves: “It must not have been God’s will.”
What do you think Anschutz did?
He got industrious.
Anschutz learned that Universal Studios was doing a movie about Adair. He quickly negotiated a deal with Universal to film the crews fighting his fire for a fee of $100,000–enough to keep him afloat until the banks lent him money to pay for the leases he had bought on credit.
The footage became part of 1968’s Hellfighters, starring John Wayne.
The cash got Anschutz through to the next gusher, and in 1982 he sold his half of the Anschutz Ranch East Field to Mobil for $500 million.
A lot of great things happen to industrious people !
Be industrious or be poverty stricken: you choose.
Jesus, in the Message translation, said:
“Now here’s a surprise: The master praised the crooked manager! And why? Because he knew how to look after himself. Streetwise people are smarter in this regard than law-abiding citizens. They are on constant alert, looking for angles, surviving by their wits. I want you to be smart in the same way—but for what is right—using every adversity to stimulate you to creative survival, to concentrate your attention on the bare essentials, so you’ll live, really live, and not complacently just get by on good behavior.” (Luke 16:8-9 MSG)
It’s not enough to pray, or be a good person; we all have to to use adversity to stimulate us to “creative survival.” We have to learn to think outside the box…and if necessary throw away the box!
To be industrious is to be productive. To be productive is to: produce something useful for the outside world–something that people will pay for.
There is a gift that you have…
…a skill you possess…
…expertise that you’ve acquired…
…that if it was properly marketed would change your life. It could be even as small as a cookie (check out video below):
The late Pastor Myles Munroe when speaking about poverty and unproductivity said this:
His answer was, ‘The poor you always have with you.’ Now when I look at the ‘poor’ there it shocked me. It doesn’t mean ‘those who lacked.’ It means “non-productive ones.’ The first command of God is ‘produce.’ Poverty is when you stop producing…Poverty is a lack of creativity not a lack of resources. There is no crisis except a crisis of creativity. No money has left the planet. No matter what they say around the world. No money went to the moon, no money to mars, its all still here. And it will be attracted to creativity. Because crisis creates creativity and innovation. It is those who are productive who will attract resources.”
But look here:
The Bible says,
“Much food is in the tillage of the poor, but there is that is destroyed for want of judgement.” (Proverbs 13:23 KJV)
On the surface that Scripture doesn’t make any sense.
If it said, “Much food is in the tillage of the rich…” then that’s more understandable. But how could much food be in the tillage of the poor?!
Could it be that the difference between the rich and the poor is that the rich KNOW what they have? Maybe the poor are not as great utilizing natural resources? Or maybe be the rich are just greater at using and multiplying their natural resources?
There is another possible conclusion.
In Ancient Palestine it was a land of small peasant proprietors (or small owners of business), and the institution of the Jubilee was intended to prevent the acquisition of large estates by any Israelite. The result, as intended, was a level of modest prosperity held by everyone.
The word “tillage” is ground worked for the first time. All the abundance the poor man needed was in his ground–not his neighbors. And it was only when he cultivated his ground, his resources, talents, and etc did he find his prosperity.
And so it is today.
Your abundance will not be found in someone else’s field but only in the field God has given you.
Want to be a Christian millionaire (or billionaire)? Good.
Don’t have enough to work with? Even better.
Learn to be industrious now!
5. Want to Read Your Success? Become Financially Literate
Pete Leonard’s love for coffee started when he was 12 years old. It continued till he went to Brazil on a mission trip and had the best coffee he ever tasted. When he ran out of coffee he built a homemade roster and spent Saturday after Saturday practicing the art of making coffee.
Soon he had many unsolicited orders from neighbors wanting his coffee.
And that’s how Second Chance Coffee was born. Later he renamed to I Have a Bean Coffee shop.
But Leonard also saw a social problem: people released from prison are unable to find work and many end of going right back to prison. So Leonard decided that his business would do something about that.
Now I Have a Bean hires ex-offenders to make their coffee. Its a for profit business that is also on a social mission. As great as his mission is and as great as the publicity he shares a pivotal reason for his success: financial literacy.
“Know everything about where your company stands financially at all times. Being great with something you do with passion, and having enough money to get started, is not enough to be sustainable. If you don’t have the skills or knowledge to manage your finances, partner with someone who does. You can’t let an accountant run your business. You need to have a perfect understanding of where your business stands at any time.”
The Bible says,
“Be thou diligent to know the state of thy flocks, and look well to thy herds.” (Proverbs 27:23 KJV)
In an ancient agricultural society flocks and herds constituted wealth. To know the state of your flocks was to know income and expenses constituted from such assets.
The Scripture is basically saying: be aware of all assets, income, and expenses. In other words: be financially knowledgeable and literate.
Financial literacy can be defined as,
“Having the knowledge, skills, and confidence to make responsible financial decisions that suit individual financial situations.”
It is the ability to handle, manage, and multiply money.
These Christian millionaires (and Billionaires) learned the ability to properly handle money. And as a result were given more money to manage. There’s no way around it: if you want more you have to know how to handle less.
Rockefeller: financial fluency personified
When John D. Rockefeller started his career he started as an assistant bookkeeper. This was the foundation for his financial literacy. He saw everything through accounting and was adept managing the numbers and increasing cashflow.
In fact, when he was still a teenager he paid a dime for a small red book, called it Ledger A, and recorded all receipts and expenditures. He tracked everything and was careful not to waste a dime.
The habit of tracking every penny aided him well in his career.
One particular instance is when he inspected a Standard plant in NY that filled and sealed five-gallon tin cans of kerosene for export. After watching a machine solder caps to the cans, he asked the resident expert how many drops of solder was used.
The expert replied, “Forty.”
Rockefeller replied, “Would you mind having some sealed with thirty-eight and let me know?”
When they used thirty-eight drops there was a leak, but not at thirty-nine. So thirty-nine became the standard. It had a tremendous impact. According to Rockefeller,
“That one drop of solder saved $2,500 the first year, but the export business kept on increasing after that and doubled, quadrupled–became immensely greater than it was then; and the saving has gone steadily along, one drop on each can, and has amounted since to many hundreds of thousands of dollars.”
Learning the language of money
The language of money and commerce is simply that: a language.
The good thing about a language is that it can be learned.
No one speaking English instinctively knows Russian, and vice versa. And no one who is instinctively financially illiterate understands terms like these:
- Cash flow
- Free cash flow
Just doesn’t happen.
But to learn the language…
…immerse yourself in the language…
…speak the language…
…make mistakes in the language…
…and so on. That is the path of all Christian millionaires (and Billionaires).
And it is a very profitable path to be on.
But what say ye?
- What else can you learn from these Christian millionaires?
- What other lessons did we not touch on that can be added?
- What action are you going to implement this week?