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The ancient Greek Olympic games included an interesting competition. In this particular race the runners carried torches in their hands. To win, a runner not only had to cross the finish line first, he had to arrive there with his torch still lit
The concept of whole-life prosperity, which we will learn throughout this book, is much like that Greek race. Managing our finances isn’t merely about making it to the end of the month. It is also critical that we reach that goal with the rest of our lives intact. We must learn to find a balance between time, talents, and treasures—tangibles such as money or possessions, and intangibles such as the love and respect of our friends and family.
Many people live as though the way to prosperity is a hundred-meter dash. These people try to reach their financial goals in the shortest possible time. They risk time, talents, and treasures in order to obtain an economic benefit as soon as possible. The 21st century team seems to be:
To retire as soon as you can,
With as much money as you can,
To do as little as you can,
For as long as you can!
It is important for us to understand that the path to whole-life prosperity is not a hundred-meter dash. The truth is, the route that will lead you to whole-life prosperity looks more like a cross-country marathon— complete with hills, rocks, and other obstacles.
This course wants to hep you on this life journey, to build up wealth in the five most important areas, so we can keep our torches burning and be ready to spend our wealth to reach your life goals and to be a blessing to people around us!
Whole Life Prosperity
Our culture trains us to think that wealth typically refers only to financial assets and worldly possessions.
A moment’s reflection shows us that a well-lived life (we could call it true wealth) is about much more than finances.
For example, if you become a millionaire but lose all your friends and family, are you wealthy? Is that a good trade-off? Is that a well-lived life? Is it worth losing friends to get more money? If you make more money than everyone else in the world but live in a house by yourself all day with an incurable illness that gives you chronic pain, are you wealthy? Is that a good life? How much money is chronic pain worth? Would you rather have a rich teacher or a wise teacher?
I think most of us would agree that a life isn’t good if it’s filled with financial prosperity but no other kind of flourishing.
Our problem, then, is that our measurement of wealth is too small. It’s not that we shouldn’t look for a return on our investments; it’s that we need to expand our definition of what kind of return we’re looking for. We need a new way of evaluating and measuring what actually happens when we make these kinds of investments. We need to think much wider about prosperity and wealth.
In 3 John 2, where John prays that the recipient of the letter would prosper in ‘all respects’ and that he would be in good health, ‘just as your soul prospers.’ The writer is giving us a holistic view of prosperity that is a helpful corrective against the short-sighted focus of the so-called prosperity gospel. John is saying that every area of your life should prosper, not just one or two. He describes prosperity in terms of multiple kinds of capital and currency.
This way of looking at prosperity helps keep everything in proper orientation and guards us against the excesses of a narrow focus on only one area of capital apart to the detriment of the others. The problem with prosperity theology is that it doesn’t aim high enough. It’s narrowly focused on measuring financial prosperity when it ought to be thinking about spiritual, relational, physical, and productive prosperity, too. It follows the way of the world in valuing financial capital above all else, instead of recognising financial capital in its proper biblical place. We think financial capital is the ceiling when it’s actually only the floor.
Living an Integrated Life
Vital to building life wealth is living an integrated life. Watch this short clip from Dr. Bill Donahue on living an integrated life. He talks about three components in building an integrated life.
Story, soul and strategy. What could this mean for you?
What is wealth?
For the next few days, ask a number of people to complete the sentence; “Wealthy is the person who …”
Fill in the most commonly heard definitions in the five areas listed below.
How would you define success?
Some define it as having a fat bank account, having enough money to pay all bills, taking a nice holiday twice or three times each year. However, whatever our income level, it never seems to be enough. We want bigger, better, more and are constantly experiencing a kind of nomadic life which leads to unrest.
Or success may equal achievement, in status, your career, or even in the community.
Prestige could be another definition of success for you. You want to recognition, promotion, and applauded for your achievements.
Success could also be defined in terms of power, or happiness however you may define these.
There are many ways by which people measure success, yet many success-driven people arrive at their destination disillusioned and unfulfilled. We see this in the media frequently. Outwardly successful individuals become alcoholics or drug addicts, love affairs destroy their marriages or they get involved in criminal activities. Working towards success does not automatically to a life of fulfilment of deep satisfaction. It is like when climbing the ladder of success, and you get to the top, you look around, and see that your ladders leaning against the wrong wall!
Your definition of success and the way you live in pursuit of that definition has everything to do with whether or not you experience satisfying, fulfilling life.
Read Deuteronomy chapter 8.
The people of Israel are getting ready to enter the promised land - a 'land flowing with milk and honey.' They would be able to enjoy tremendous wealth there!
Wealth comes from God!
What a promise!
Wealth in this verse means strength, power, the ability to change things for good. This particular word in Hebrew is often used in the Bible to describe a brave army!
Discuss this statement ...
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