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How Much Is Enough for Christian Millionaires?

CNN recently reported that a new study found that more than two-thirds of the world’s millionaires are affiliated with a religion, with more than half identified as Christians. The study, from the nonpartisan wealth research firm New World Wealth, found that of the 13.1 million millionaires in the world, 7.4 million, or 56.2 percent, identify themselves as Christian when asked about their religion

I wonder how the 56.2 percent that are Christians would answer: HOW MUCH IS ENOUGH?

Most affluent people have likely asked this question, but they are too busy making money and taking care of the money to seriously consider how much is enough. I have discovered in planning for millionaires that they ask it even less frequently in regards to their children’s inheritances. But this question must be asked at both of these levels if affluent families want to serve the Lord with their money and become the kind of Stewards of their wealth that God calls them to.

How Much Is Enough for Us?
How much income do you need or want to maintain your current lifestyle for the rest of your life? How much do you need or want in reserve to avoid possible financial disaster in the future? It seems like a simple mathematical equation would give us the answer to the question: “How much is enough for us?”

However, older Americans who lived during the Great Depression have been indelibly marked with the horrible memories of economic collapse and financial ruin—something younger Americans have yet to experience.

These older Americans‟ first “knee-jerk” reaction to this question is, “We can never have enough because we can never know just how long or how deep the next “Great Depression” is going to be. Thus, the answer to this question is not a simple mathematical calculation. It requires some lengthy, in-depth conversations to help these people distinguish the facts from feelings as they seek to answer this critically important question.

Affluent families need to address their emotional fears within the context of present reality to help them answer this most basic question: “How much do we need in reserves in order to maintain this present lifestyle until we relocate to be with the Lord?”

How Much Is Enough for Our Heirs?
This question is just as complex and filled with just as much emotion as the first. However, now the emotion is not one of fear, but of love. We have simply gone to the opposite extreme of the emotional continuum.

Warren Buffett may have made the most profound comment on this topic of inheritance. He said, “I want to give my children enough of an inheritance that they will feel like they can do anything, but not so much of an inheritance that they will do nothing.”

The overwhelming majority of wealthy parents will concur with this sentiment. Yet almost none of them have tried to identify the minimum and maximum levels of wealth that would be best to pass onto their heirs. Couples need to spend a considerable amount of time answering this critical question in great detail. Once an affluent individual or couple knows how much wealth is needed to support their desired lifestyle and exactly how much wealth is enough for their heirs, then they are, for the first time, in a financial, emotional and spiritual position to look at their remaining excess wealth. Then they can ask, “What should we do with our surplus?” It is at this point that they can begin to engage in some very meaningful dialog on their level of personal and family giving.

The Psychological Pyramid of Priorities looks like this:

The Psychological Pyramid of Priorities

Until the first-level question of “How much is enough for ourselves?” is adequately answered, we cannot go to the next level. Until the second-level question of “How much is enough for our heirs?” is adequately answered, we cannot go to the final level of asking, “How can we give our surplus wealth away to help others?”

This Psychological Pyramid of Priorities expresses our most basic human instincts of:

(1.) taking care of ourselves,
(2.) taking care of our own, and
(3.) taking care of others.

Do wealthy Christians have a higher calling or a more meaningful set of questions?

I think they do! The Bible tells us that the reason that we are given more wealth is to GIVE IT AWAY!

God spoke, and the world came into existence. God spoke, and the world was demolished by a flood. One day, God will speak the only verdict that matters as He judges every person.

Almost everyone I meet believes they are headed for heaven. If this is true, then why did Jesus talk about the narrow gate and hard path? And those that find the gate are few. {Matt. 7:13-14)

In Galatians, it is said that whatever you sow, you will reap. If you sow for your own enjoyment and pleasure and comfort, you will have received your reward on this earth! Wealthy Christians are called to a higher purpose than those that do not have the means. If a wealthy Christian sows to the Spirit, he/she will from the Spirit reap eternal life.

I am not saying to give it all away. God calls us to be good Stewards of all that He has given us. He demands that we are careful what we give our children that it serves His purpose. He says not to “build bigger barns”: but to take all that is surplus and give it away now. That doesn’t mean to create a foundation that merely gives away the earnings; He says to give it away today.

Just a thought…but if the 7 million millionaire Christians would each give 1 million dollars away and the top ten percent would give away 10 million dollars, we could give away 14 trillion dollars. That would feed all the hungry around the world and send a message of the love of Christ at the same time. How about that for being the salt of the earth?

 

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joe-sturnioloBy Joe Sturniolo
Christian Family Legacy and Wealth Planning
Joe believes that stronger families are the vehicle God uses to bring
about significant impact for His Kingdom.

One Comment

  1. Mike Says :
    Posted on March 31, 2018 at 4:01 am

    Hey Joe,

    Great post!

    I think wealth has a great place in the Body of Christ. Especially in the hands of those who know how to use it. Many millionaires and billionaires have done much to advance the Gospel than we give credit for.

    Again great post and great work!

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