Gary Keesee was in a financial mess:
- He was unable to provide the basic necessities for your family.
- He was hounded by creditors, bill collectors, and even friends and family.
- He used credit cards to pay for gas, small meals, and etc.
Now…imagine this going on for years!!
Oh…I forgot…he was saved the entire time!
Fast forward to today…PASTOR Gary Keessee is the senior pastor of a mega church and is a multi-millionaire.
According to him,
“I couldn’t even afford to buy a stamp.”
So what did he learn that took him crippling debt to being a multi-millionaire? Namely this:
1. Learn to Seek God FIRST
Over and over this principle is seen with Christian millionaires and billionaires. One of the great strengths of Christian entrepreneurs, millionaires, AND billionaires is their ability to hear and obey the Voice of God. They work hard, are dilligent, are strategists, and team builders. But their ability to obey the voice of God, the promptings of God, and the desires of God have aided them well in their success.
While in their financial distress Drenda Keese (his wife) was desperate for answers. It didn’t make sense: they loved the Lord, were tithing, but struggling.
She was determined to find an answer!
One night she decided she wouldn’t go to bed until God explained WHAT was going on and HOW they could fix it. She prayed, searched the Scriptures, and came upon the Book of Haggai. The Scripture that stood out her was:
“You have sown much, and bring in little; you eat, but do not have enough; you drink, but you are not filled with drink; You clothe yourselves, but no one is warm; And he who earns wages, Earns wages to put into a bag with holes.
Thus says the Lord of hosts: ‘Consider your ways! Go up to the mountains and bring wood and build the temple, that I may take pleasure in it and be glorified,’ says the Lord.
You looked for much, but indeed it came to little; and when you brought it home, I blew it away. ‘Why?’ says the Lord of hosts.
‘Because of My house that is in ruins, while every one of you runs to his own house. Therefore the heavens above you withhold the dew, and the earth withholds its fruit. For I called for a drought on the land and the mountains, on the grain and the new wine and the oil, on whatever the ground brings forth, on men and livestock, and on all the labor of your hands.'” (Haggai 1:6-11 NKJV)
She had a revelation:
It was not to long after that God spoke to Gary about learning the LAWS OF THE KINGDOM.
Why All Success Is Found in Seeking God (or God’s Way of Doing Things)
“Anyone who listens to My teaching and follows it is wise, like a person who builds a house on solid rock.Though the rain comes in torrents and the floodwaters rise and the winds beat against that house, it won’t collapse because it is built on bedrock. But anyone who hears My teaching and doesn’t obey it is foolish, like a person who builds a house on sand. When the rains and floods come and the winds beat against that house, it will collapse with a mighty crash.” (Matthew 7:24-27 NLT)
Those who follow God’s Ways have a more sure footing, those that don’t don’t.
Gary and Drenda learned the hard way: God and His Kingdom operate by laws.
But timeless and eternal laws (or principles).
God is no respector or persons but He is a respector of principles (namely HIS principles).
Example: Cain and Abel.
Before Cain killed Abel they presented their offerings before God. God accepted Abel’s offering, and rejected Cain. Cain got an attitude about it. Immediately God dealt with him:
“So the Lord said to Cain, ‘Why are you angry? And why has your countenance fallen? If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin lies at the door. And its desire is for you, but you should rule over it.'” (Genesis 4:6-7 NKJV)
In other words:
Why are you mad at your brother? If you did WHAT Abel did you’d get what Abel GOT!”
We can’t do things OUR way and expect God’s blessing. Doesn’t work like that.
Like Gary and Drenda, the responsibility of discovering and applying God’s laws fall on you.
In fact, deeply embedded in us is the knowledge of God’s laws. Even though our understanding of them is limited we have a sense they exist and violation of them has consequences. Paul said it like this:
“When outsiders who have never heard of God’s law follow it more or less by instinct, they confirm its truth by their obedience. They show that God’s law is not something alien, imposed on us from without, but woven into the very fabric of our creation. There is something deep within them that echoes God’s yes and no, right and wrong.” (Romans 2:14-15 MSG)
God has laws for money, ministry, relationships and etc.
Find them, discover them, and apply them: “Wisdom is the principal thing; therefore get wisdom. And in all your getting, get understanding.” (Proverbs 4:7 NKJV)
2. Stop The Dependence on Debt
During the time of their financial distress they were quite in the hole:
- Three finance company loans at 28% interest.
- $13,000 of owed back taxes.
- $26,000 of of money owed to realtives.
- Home mortgage.
- Owed money on two rusted cars.
- Judgements and liens filed against them.
There was particular instance that highlighted the severity of their situation. One night while with the family Gary had one credit card that wasn’t maxed out. The Mission: buy gas and dinner. Dinner consisted of those questionable gas station meats because even McDonald’s was out of the question.
The gas was pumped, food was in hand, and Gary stood at the cashier praying the card would go through.
It was approved.
In his relief he rushed out the door, jumped into his car, and headed for the exit. But he forgot to take out the gas pump! You guessed it: the pump and hose were ripped from the pump.
According to Gary:
Gary famously tells a story of how things turned around. An attorney called demading payment. They had no money–all resources were exhausted. He realized he was at the end of his rope.
He went upstairs to his room and collapsed across his bed. According to him:
He realized he depended more on debt than on God. That dependence enslaved his family.
According to Drenda:
That commitment was soon tested.
A couple of days later their van burned up.
The good news: the insurance company sent money that paid off the van, some other debts, and left them with some money.
The bad news: they had no vehicle.
His father heard about the van incident and said he wanted to help. His dad said he would cosign on the purchase of a new van. Gary reluctantly agreed.
That night though after being convicted by the Holy Spirit and speaking with Drenda they decided they couldn’t take the van. In the morning he called his father and declined the offer. He then cancelled the order with the dealership.
They didn’t know what to do–but they were trusting God.
During that time Drenda was selling antiques on the side. She didn’t know much about selling antiques but she called retirement homes and offered to buy antiques from persons moving into retirement. Before the van burned she left a message for a man about buying several rooms of furniture. After the van burned, he called back and agreed to sell the room for $500.
She made a deal with an auction company: they would sell the furniture for her.
Her commission: a good used car.
So now they had a paid for car, a credit card paid off, and the van loan paid!
3. Learn How to Manage Money…Now!
Most people pray for increase. Not realizing that real increase comes by way of proper managment.
God is not wasteful. He does not mismanage resources. And…He doesn’t give MORE to people who haven’t proven they know how to handle LESS.
The Bible says,
“These are the generations of the heavens and of the earth when they were created, in the day that the God made the earth and the heavens, And every plant of the field before it was in the earth, and every herb of the field before it grew: for the Lord God had not caused it to rain upon the earth, and there was not a man to till the ground.” (Genesis 2:4-5 KJV)
Did you get that?
God DIDN’T send the rain because there was no man to work the ground. In other words: God didn’t send increase because there was no man (or man-ager).
In God’s Eyes: no management, no increase.
But…proper management leads to proper increase.
“They Still Make Them.”
Early in their married lives Gary and Drenda bought a home they were not prepared for. According to Drenda:
Because of that setback they went back to renting.
When they really committed to getting out of debt they decided to downgrade even further. The result: they rented a 3 bedroom, one bath 1800’s farmhouse for $300/month. It was “an extreme fixer-upper.” But they were determined to manage their money better and get out of debt.
They also learned how to delay gratification.
Many times Drenda would see “deals” that she wanted and Gary would remind her, “They still make them.” In other words: was the impulse buy helping or hindering their financial goals? Rather than just go for the “deal of the century” they sought God and trusted His timing.
One instance particularly stood out.
They attended an auction where there were five prototype china cabinets for sale. They were priced at $800, well below their original cost of $2500. Drenda begged Gary to bid on one. Gary looked at Drenda and said,
“Drenda does that meet our financial goals? Remember: They still make them.”
She was disappointed but she knew he was right.
The cabinets sold, they left, and she put the desire in God’s Hands. Later that evening they received a call from the auction house.
They had another china cabinet. They chose not to auction because it was missing the top crown molding. After the auction they found the molding and wanted to know if they wanted to buy it for $400.
This time they bought it!
That was a lesson for them. According to Drenda:
Christian millionaires (and billionaires) are good money managers. They have learned how to maximize the little they had–as a result–God blesses them with much more to manage.
John D. Rockefeller who is the richest Christian to date HATED waste of any kind.
Rockefeller had a love of numbers and accounting, so early on he decided to apply the same accounting to his own life. He paid a dime for a small red book, called it Ledger A, and recorded all receipts and expenditures. He tracked and was careful not to waste a dime.
This habit of tracking every penny aided him well in his business career.
One particular instance is when he inspected a Standard Oil 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.”
Another instance of wise stewardship: The Benham Brothers.
The Benham Brothers over the last decade or so have built a business empire that spans from real estate to financial services.
But during the formative years they were engaged in some hefty cost cutting and stewardship.
They huddled together and realized each family needed $1500 to survive.
By a miracle they found a $210,000 home being sold for $150,000 and they moved both families in: four adults and three kids under the age of five.
Ouch. That’s tight.
After 10 months they made more than the $3000, tithed, and put the surplus in a business account. They lived like that for two years.
According to them:
“Even as our business grew stronger and stronger, we still lived as small as possible as a matter of delayed gratification. We had a growing business that needed the capital…The principle of delayed gratification means you’re willing to forgo the temporary enjoyment of something today for the permanent enjoyment of something tomorrow. The money earned in the early years of a business is “seed” money, which should always go back into the ground. Too often business owners see their initial earnings as ‘harvest’—and they reap it prematurely. This is why so many businesses fail in the first five years.” Whatever the Cost: Facing Your Fears… (pp. 18-19). Kindle Edition.
After they saved $30,000 they hired their first employee.
After some time they replenished the account and hired their second.
The rest is history.
Learn the power of delayed gratification. Manage your money now!
Remember: they still make them!
4. Get Your Plans From God
Gary and Drenda went in to business to prosper, make a difference, and help people. But they never sought God for His plan. What they did was create a plan and ask God to bless it.
Have you ever done that before???
Earlier we said that Drenda in the midst of their financial turmoil was committed to hearing from God.
They needed HIS plan. They were running out of options. Late one night, God told her were going to build a business helping people get out of debt. In her excitement, she woke Gary up and told him.
“Well if that’s true I wish He’d tell me how to get out of debt first.”
Then he rolled back over and went back to bed.
He had so much financial stress he couldn’t believe it.
God then spoke to him sometime later:
It was this business that got them out of debt.
Today it produces millions of dollars a year and helps thousands of people get out of debt.
For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.'” (Jeremiah 29:11 NIV)
Christian entrepreneurs, leaders, millionaires, and billionaires learn how to seek God for their plan. It’s not that they’re so smart, wise, or intellectual. Quite the contrary. They have just learned to seek God in ALL their ways.
God’s Plans of Abundance for You
Believers that seek God’s Plan for their financial life are always light years ahead of those who try to “figure it out” on their own.
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:
But wait there’s more…
When the Benham brothers decided to go into real estate they didn’t have a niche. Rather than try to “figure it out” they decided to go to God:
That was the beginning of 23,000 foreclosed homes sold by them over a decade.
But wait there’s more…
Folorunsho Alakija is a Nigerian businesswoman, one of the richest black women in the world, and has a networth of $1.7 billion. She has holdings in oil exploration, fashion, and printing.
Earlier in her career while in fashion she wanted to start another business in printing.
Prior to the new venture she was given a dream for offset printing, unfortunately she went into large format printing. The venture did well before the Nigerian Government clamped down on billboard printing because they were clogging up the skyline. Sales for the new company plummeted.
She realized her mistake and went back to the SPECIFIC instructions she was given. She got into offset printing and it has been a success. She started with 30 employees and now has 100.
Gary and Drenda’s lives were changed because they tapped into the Kingdom. Tapped into God’s Ways of doing things. They stopped leaning to their own understanding.
What are you waiting for?
Now it’s your turn.
It’s your turn to tap into the resources of God’s Kingdom. It’s your turn to apply God’s way of doing things. It’s your turn to move into your promised land of abundance.
God has put something special inside of you child of God. But until you fix the “money thing” you will never bring that greatness into fruition. It is your turn.
What principle will you put to use first?
What did you learn most from Gary and Drenda’s story?
What are your thoughts?