Don’t Be Fooled By Credit Card Marketing

Thanks...but, uhm...No Thanks!!

Thanks…but, uhm…No Thanks!!

 

I just received this offer in the mail for a new credit card. It’s advertising airline miles, discounts, etc. Sounds attractive right?

Never forget what they are selling you….DEBT.

Credit card companies spend MILLIONS on advertising. They know how to attract customers. With open arms we walk right through the prison door they are holding wide open for us. It’s a trap, don’t be fooled. All the airline points in the world aren’t worth going into debt for. You’re crazy if you think they’re offering you freebies or that you can “work” the system.

Do it God’s way, stay debt free, his system always trumps trying to beat their system.

-Wesley

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Stop Believing You’re Insignificant!

Stop Pretending You're Insignificant

In early 2008, the Washington Post conducted a social experiment to find out if people would recognize genius in ordinary, everyday life. So for 45 minutes on a Friday morning, one of the finest classical musicians in the world filled L’Enfant Plaza with his music.   Just days before, Joshua Bell had filled Boston’s Symphony Hall where even the cheap seats were over $100. And here he was, playing for free in the metro station on his 300 year old Stradivari violin valued at 3.5 million dollars.

Over a thousand people walked by. Just another street musician. A few stopped, fewer still gave tips, just over $32 to be exact. A seat this close in a concert hall would cost hundreds.

If only you could see it!

Every day you look at yourself in the mirror. I wonder what runs through your mind as you look at your reflection.

Just another parent…

Just another teacher…

Just another employee…

Or worse…

What a failure…

Insignificant…

Worthless…

If only you could see it! 

See what??

The love in his eyes when he looks at you. The delight in his voice when he sings over you. The tenderness he uses to speak into your life, into the broken places where he desires wholeness, not so that you’ll be a “better Christian”, but because he loves you and you’re his child. His greatest desire isn’t to make you a better person, it’s to make you His.

Don’t be ridiculous…you’re just saying these things. God doesn’t feel that way about me.

Don’t take my word for it, take his.

Stop Pretending You're Insignificant

Stop Believing You're Insignificant

By the way, I’m dead serious. This isn’t just a nice motivational post to boost your self-esteem. I’m out to change your life.

What you believe about your level of significance affects everything. Here’s a short list:

  • How you treat your spouse
  • How you decide to dress
  • Your income at work
  • How you treat the waiter
  • How you treat your body (smoking, diet, exercise, etc)
  • How you spend your money
  • Your happiness throughout the day
  • Your confidence when meeting new people
  • How you treat your kids
  • Whether or not your will reach your potential
  • The level of responsibility you will take on

Sadly, it even affects whether or not we choose to pursue God. If we believe in our hearts that he sees us as sinful, dirty, failing, or just less than lovely, then what motivation is there to pursue him? Contrast that feeling of worthlessness with having a deep conviction that God is Love (1 John 4:8) and that we are the objects of his love (Romans 5:8).

Jesus wasn’t kidding – the truth will set you free.

Change Your Thoughts, Change Your Life

If you struggle with feeling insignificant, the solution starts with your thinking. According to Romans 12:2, renewing your mind = transformation. So how do you do that? It’s not easy, but it’s simple.

  1. Know the Truth. Take some of the verses in this post, write them out on a 3×5 card and keep them with you. As you get moments of time throughout the day, read through them and begin to memorize them. You have to know the truth before you’ll ever be able to recognize the lie.
  2. Take Your Thoughts Captive. In 2 Corinthians 10:5, Paul states that “we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” This is very freeing because it means first of all that you can control your thoughts, and second, not everything you think is correct! When you catch yourself having a thought that isn’t inline with what God says, take it captive. Literally, say to yourself, “that isn’t true, because what God says is this…”
  3. Repeat #1 and #2 until you start to see your transformation. You’ll recognize it as your level of joy and hope rises.

For a little balance, the bible does teach to not think of ourselves more highly than we ought to (Rom 12:3). But most of us think far less of ourselves than we should. It’s not thinking of yourself too highly when you’re simply aligning your thoughts towards you with his thoughts towards you.

It’s interesting to note that when the devil tempted Jesus (Matthew 4), two out of the three temptations started with attacks on his identity: “If you are the son of God…” Because Jesus knew who he was, he was able to resist the temptations.

So what about you? Is the enemy attacking your identity? Have you failed to recognize your worth and your significance? Have you believed the lies that your life is of no value? It’s easy to do. The enemy is persistent. Just don’t give up…your life is too valuable to lose this fight.

-Wesley

P.S. If you want to go deeper into this issue, I’d recommend reading The Search for Significance by Robert S. McGee. It’s one of those books that’s good to read about once a year. I’ve read it and I highly recommend it.

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The Power of Zero-Based Time Budgeting

 

Think about this carefully….what is your most valuable resource? Here’s a hint…

The Power of a Time Budget

© Zhudifeng | Stock Free Images & Dreamstime Stock Photos

We budget money because it has value and shouldn’t be wasted. So why don’t we budget time?

In the next 3 minutes you’re going to learn the power of zero-based time budgeting and how to create a zero based time budget for yourself. Since time is…well…money, let’s get started.

What is a Zero-Based Time Budget?

Raise your hand if you’ve never heard of time budgeting. What about a zero-based budget? When budgeting cash, the goal is to tell every dollar what to do. So if you’re budgeting $5000, you would assign every dollar a task (such as buy gas, buy food, pay rent), and you’re done when every dollar has an assignment. Here’s an example of what a zero-based budget looks like. You start with your income at the top and end with zero at the bottom:

Zero Based Time Budget

Time budgeting is the same way…you start with 168 hours in the week, plug in how you will spend your time for the week, and end up with zero. It’s a powerful exercise, especially when you feel (like we all do) that there’s just no time. Here’s an example of a time based budget where they discovered there was time left over after all of their activities had been entered:

Zero Based Time Budget

The Power of Zero-Based Time Budgeting

After doing a time budget you’ll discover one of two things:

  • You have more time than you thought you did, or…
  • You suddenly understand where you’re losing most of your time

If you have time left over (like in the example above), make sure to budget it somewhere. Time is like money, if you don’t tell it where to go it get’s lost. But unlike money, you can never get time back.

Now it’s your turn! Click the button below to download a template (just like the one above) for a Time Budget. It’s in Microsoft Excel, but feel free to go old school and just use pen/paper if you want.

Zero Based Budget

Let me know what you think! I’d love to hear how this has helped you recapture any lost time!

-Wesley

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5 Quick & Easy Ways to Change Your Life

5 Quick and Easy Ways to Change Your Life

© Xaviermarchant | Stock Free Images & Dreamstime Stock Photos

In less than five minutes I’m going to give you 5 quick and easy ways to change your life. Do any one of these 5 things and I guarantee you’ll see your life improve fast. Let’s get started. But first, let’s enjoy these 5 dolphins. Nice. 

1. On a 3×5 card, write down one goal for each of these three areas: Relational, Physical, and Financial. That’s it, only three goals, no more (if you want to go deeper on goals, read this post on smart goals). Here’s some examples to get you started:

  • Relational: Have a date night with my spouse every Thursday night.
  • Physical: Jog 30 minutes three times a week.
  • Financial: Set a budget for this month.

Keep that card with you at all times.

(Estimated time: 5 minutes, 4 of which are spent trying to find a 3×5 card)

2. Every morning, rewrite your goals on a new 3×5 card. Most people fail to reach their goals, but it’s not because they don’t set them, it’s because they forget them.

(Estimated time: 1 minute)

3. Read a chapter in the book of Proverbs every day. It’s called the Book of Wisdom for a reason. If we all lived by principles in this one simple book we’d quickly eradicate debt, adultery, corruption, gossip, and a host of other crap. And with 31 chapters it’s like God designed it to be read daily. Hmm…

(Estimated time: 5 minutes)

4. Plan what TV shows you will watch each week. Oh the hours we’ve wasted in front of that stupid box. I was going to say don’t watch it at all but that would be hypocritical as Beth & I look forward to episodes of The Office and Shark Tank. But instead of mindlessly wasting time, all I’m saying is be intentional about it, so at least you know how much time you’re actually wasting.

(Estimated time: 2 minutes to decide your top 2-3 shows you’re going to watch. Estimated time saved: 8-10 hours a week)

5. Be Your Best Friend. Every time you catch yourself going negative (about anything, but especially about yourself), find something to be thankful for. So often we’re our worst critics. God calls us magnificent and we call ourselves worthless…that must break his heart. If you could only see how incredible you are. Yes YOU! Overweight, broke, insecure little you…you are a masterpiece….it’s time to start treating yourself as one.

(Estimated time: 30 seconds to make the decision to be your best friend…a lifetime of implementing)

There you go folks. A little shot of personal development espresso to get your week started off right.

-Wesley

In the comments, I’d love to hear ONE quick and easy thing you’ve done in your own life that has had a huge payoff for you!

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5 Financial Decisions That Keep You Broke (or Why My Friend Will Always Be Poor)

Poor financial decisions will keep you broke

My friend  will never read this, but that’s not why he’ll always be poor. He (real guy by the way, we’ll call him Steve) will always be poor because he consistently sabotages his future by making poor financial decisions today.

Let’s jump right in.

5 Financial Decisions That Keep You Broke

1. Choosing to finance rather than pay cash.

I still can’t believe he said this…

During a recent conversation about car payments and credit cards Steve made the comment that “It’s not really debt if you can make the payments every month.” So I guess when Beth and I owed $119,000 to several different companies we weren’t really in debt since we were able to make the payments. That makes sense…not.

Here’s the deal. We all know debt is bad. Even “good” debt sucks. So hey, let’s just call it something different. Let’s call it “payments.” So I can get the new car now, because it’s not debt you see, it’s just “payments.” It makes zero sense and bottom line it’s rationalizing poor financial decisions by calling it something else.

2. Buying a new vehicle instead of used.

Steve just bought a brand new SUV (rather spontaneously I may add) 3 years ago. Just two weeks ago he said he was looking at getting a brand new truck, to the tune of $40,000. He would end up paying at least $5,000 more than the sticker price due to the interest, not even counting the instant devaluation of the vehicle the second he buys it. That’s what gymnasts call “upside-down.”

Dave Ramsey says the depreciation of a new vehicle is the equivalent of throwing a $100 bill out the window every week for the first four years. That’s completely wasted money my friends. I have no problem with buying a new car. But you have to know the numbers including the real cost of the vehicle, including the opportunity costs of the things you won’t be able to do with that money.

3. Defining Wealth in Terms of Income Instead of Time

Part of Steve’s blindness is that he doesn’t realize he’s poor because he has a decent income. But wealth isn’t necessarily measured in dollars.

According to Robert Kiyosaki (Rich Dad, Poor Dad), wealth is measured in time. If you were to lose your job today, how long could you afford to live at your current standard of living? If it’s 3 months, then you are “3 months wealthy.” Your income becomes largely irrelevant.

Let me give you another example. I feel almost funny saying this, but Beth & I live in a very nice suburb of Orlando. We live in a condo, but a few blocks from us are very nice million-dollar homes. Ironically, we’ll occasionally find a foreclosure on our morning walks. What’s my point?

It requires a great income to qualify for a mortgage on a 7 million dollar home. Add in the BMW X5 and the private school and you can see how my “rich” neighbors may have less cash at the end of the month than you and I do. Your income can be your greatest wealth-building tool, but if you’re spending your money before you even make it you’re going to end up broke.

Back to Steve.

If he lost his job, he would have about two weeks before he started defaulting on bills and debts (excuse me…”payments”). Actually, he could probably eke out a month by using his credit cards, but that’s not really his money is it?

Here’s where it gets real scary.

4. Increasing Your Standard of Living (and debt) in-line with Your Income

We’re all aware of the danger to increase our standard of living whenever our income increases. But did you know that the opposite is also true? There is a tendency to increase your level of debt whenever your income increases. I didn’t mention this before, but can you guess what the event was that triggered Steve’s sudden desire to go buy a new truck? You guessed it….he had a slight increase in income. Now all of a sudden he has “I-can-afford-it-itis.

I experienced this correlation with debt. I moved to Waco without a job and about $9000 in debt in 2004. My income went up every year after that, but ironically, so did my level of debt. It was like the more money I made, the more I thought I could afford (at least in payments). And since income is such a large factor for banks, they were more than happy to offer me more debt with my increased income. Interesting how that works…

5. Using your Future to Pay For Your Past

Steve will always be poor because he doesn’t understand the power of delayed gratification. He doesn’t understand how interest works and he makes dangerous assumptions about his future income which may or may not come to pass. He is spending his money several years before he has earned it.

Think about how ridiculous and ultimately tragic this is…

30 year-old Steve is making decisions today based on his wants that is going to make it very difficult for 35 year-old Steve just to pay for his needs.

Never count on your future to pay for your past. Never!

Hmmm….how do you wrap up a generally depressing post? I’m tempted to just say “don’t be like Steve!” and end it. But we need more closure than that.

So here you go:

The Joneses are broke. They have financed their futures to look good in the present. Steve is trying to keep up with them…and I have very serious concerns not just for his financial well-being, but for his marriage as well because of the stress that debt puts on a relationship. This is real folks. Your decisions matter, so resist the urge to go out and buy things you cannot afford. The price is often higher than you can imagine.

-Wesley

Comments: Have you made any of Steve’s mistakes? How so?

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A Short Story About Prayer and Overdraft Fees

A Short Story About Prayer and Overdraft Fees

My sweet Grandma! Thanks for the loan! :)

It’s funny looking back, but in 2004 I was so broke I actually borrowed $1000 from my Grandma. I never thought I’d add “Grandma” to my list of debts alongside Visa and Chase, but there she was. Poor grandma. Wait, I’m the poor one in this story.

I digress…

I had just moved to a new town (lovely Waco, Texas, sic’ em Bears!). I was still looking for a “real” job, but was waiting tables at Chili’s to make ends meet, which didn’t always happen. Long story short I incurred several overdraft fees over the course of a weekend. On top of that I was overwhelmed by my $8,500 in debt, including Grandma’s grand.

I needed help.

So where do you turn when you’re in financial trouble (besides Grandma)? The bank of course!

Because of the overdraft fees, I reasoned my best shot at getting some help was to show up at the local bank with my smiling face and beg for mercy. Here’s where it gets neat.

On the way to the bank, I literally prayed for an older “motherly” lady who loved God and had a heart for missions. I had spent two months overseas that summer and figured it would be a good connection.

I walked into the bank, signed my name on the waiting list, and took a seat.

Wesley?”

I looked up….it was an older lady, Joyce, who I would soon find out was quite motherly. Check One.

During our conversation, I explained that I had just moved to town to get plugged into an amazing church….turns out Joyce is very involved in her church and even invited me to join them on their next prison outreach (which I did). Joyce loves God. Check Two.

(You can see where this is going right?)

Joyce’s daughter just returned from a mission trip to China. Joyce loves missions. Check Three. 

Not only did God completely answer my prayer, and not only did Joyce help get a few fees waived, but we developed a friendship. There were several times where I went inside the bank instead of the drive-through just to say hello (plus free coffee).

Joyce was also very encouraging, letting me know that my financial situation ($8,500 in debt at the time) wasn’t that bad. She explained that she has worked with customers who had over $50,000 in debt. In that moment I never would have dreamed that I’d eventually incur over $119,000 in debt. I often looked back on that conversation and just had to laugh (it was better than crying right?).

What’s my point?

Pray! Even for the simple things. You have not because you ask not, so ask! You don’t even know the blessings you’re missing if you’re not asking!

And stop judging yourself every time you ask for something. Most of the time our prayers are a mix of pure motives and selfish motives. If we put ourselves under a microscope every time we pray we’ll stop praying because we’re rarely going to be 100% pure in motive. Just accept that your Father loves you and wants to bless you and start asking!

Having children has opened my eyes to this.

I don’t want to bless Macey because she deserves it, I want to bless her because I love her! Do you see it? Maybe you’ve made poor financial decisions and feel that you “deserve” to be in debt. So what? God doesn’t want you to be in debt, so just accept that he wants to give you good things, and he wants to set you free (in all areas, not just financially).

On the flip side, Macey never argues with me when I try to give her something. She doesn’t give me five reasons why she doesn’t deserve it or hasn’t earned it. She just receives it…and with joy! It turns out the Bible has a lot to say about “child-like faith.”

It’s hard to say it better than Jesus…”Everyone who asks receives.” (Matthew 7:8)

So what are you waiting for? Start asking!

-Wesley

Comments: As you were reading this post, what things were highlighted in your heart that you know you need to start asking for?

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Two Lessons I Learned After Getting 9 Overdraft Fees

US Twenty Dollar Bills & Hand

Have you ever had that experience of logging into your bank account only to realize you have an overdraft fee?

What about nine overdraft fees?

Yep…it happened to me.

Thankfully it was a while ago, 2004 to be exact. Here’s what happened.

I had written a large check to someone, but they failed to cash it promptly. After several weeks, I completely forgot about it. It finally hit my account on a Friday afternoon, resulting in an overdraft. Consequently, every transaction throughout the entire weekend (gas, Starbucks, Rudy’s, etc) created another overdraft charge.

I checked my account on Monday after my card got denied, and to my horror I discovered nine overdraft charges at $33 bucks a pop. Ouchy.

I learned two valuable (and expensive) lessons from my overdraft fees fiasco.

1. You Have Not Because You Ask Not

Just a few months before this, I was at a real estate conference where I heard Tim Velor say…

In life, you don’t get what you deserve. You get what you ask for.

So I decided to ask. I went to the local branch of my bank and asked for mercy. To my surprise, they had some. They waived four of the overdraft fees. But the lady I spoke with stated I would have to call corporate to get any more fees waived.

So I called…and asked…and magically they waived four more.

All in all my $297 in overdraft fees was reduced to just one fee of $33, which I felt was more than fair given the circumstances. Turns out God was right after all…you have not because you ask not.

2. Don’t Play The Victim Card!

Who’s fault was it for the overdraft fees? Mine!!

I went into the bank with a humble attitude, took responsibility for the fees, and was amazed at how much grace people wanted to extend to me. I have a hunch that if I’d gone into with a “how dare you do this to me?” attitude I would have ended up paying more.

That said…are you playing the victim card right now in your situation? Who are you blaming for your situation? The bank? The government? The economy? All of these are outside of your control, so why are you giving them the responsibility for your well-being? Whatever your situation is, own it. Even if you didn’t cause it you have the power to change it.

So now if you ever have the pleasure of an overdraft fee in the future, you know what to do! Or better yet, just learn to manage your money so that you avoid them all together!

Dedicated to your freedom,

-Wesley

Comments: Let me know if you have had any experiences were just “asking” opened the door to something unexpected for you!

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Holding Onto Hope

Holding Onto Hope

Reading through some old journals recently, I ran across this gem…let me share.

It was from way back in May, 2009. My wife and I were sinking in over $110,000 in debt. We were actually on a mission trip in India at the time.

There I was…doing what I love and feeling like I’m walking in my purpose. But I was painfully fully aware that we were years away from ever being free to do this on a frequent basis because of numerous poor financial decisions we made in our early years of marriage.

Holding Onto Hope

I had written Psalm 18:16 out in my journal, and next to it I wrote “Promise from God that we will get out of debt.”

Holding Onto Hope

Even though this verse was written thousands of years ago, Beth and I claimed it as a promise from God that we could hold onto. It was a life-jacket that kept us from drowning when we felt like we were going under (I guess hope does float).

We always knew we’d be debt-free. Yet there were so many discouraging months where we were just living paycheck to paycheck, making literally zero progress. We just kept praying, believing, working diligently, and supporting each other. We were resolved to do whatever it took. We yearned for freedom.

Practically, we worked our tails off, continued to budget monthly, and created a financially plan to help us get free.

But as great as budgets are for financial freedom, some months it can be an exercise in frustration when there’s more month than money. It was in those times where holding onto hope was the only thing that carried us through.

Do you have a promise for freedom?

So if this is where you’re at, then I encourage you to take this verse (or any verse that breathes hope into your situation), and hold onto it as a personal promise from God that you (yes, YOU!) will be free! Even now he is reaching down and taking hold of you! And he will draw you out!

I’ve found it incredibly powerful to pray scripture. For example…

“Father, I thank you that you see exactly where I’m at right now…and you’re acting on my behalf for my freedom! Even now you’re reaching down and scooping me up. You are drawing me out of the deep waters of debt!”

Stay hopeful, it’s going to happen!

-Wesley

Comments: Do you have any other verses that you’re holding onto as promises from God? Please share!

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3 Red Flags You May Be Deceived by Wealth

Beth & I are in the market for a new car. Not that I don’t love our old Toyota 4-Runner, or that it has 255,000 miles on it and makes weird sounds when you get above 30. But we’ve been a one-car family for three years now, and just feel that it’s time to upgrade to something, well, less old.

So what do you think of my new wheels?

7 Red Flags You May Be Deceived By Wealth

If only I could fit two car seats in here…

It’s nice right? Chill out you Dave Ramsey fans, we paid cash! Just kidding…that’s not my car. I still have a few years left before my mid-life crisis.

But, in the process of car-searching I’ve found myself doing some soul-searching.

We live in a nice little suburb of Orlando, and are surrounded by wealth (or at least the appearance of wealth…who knows…half these people may be in debt up to their eyeballs). But we rent a condo and drive an old car, so I understand the pull to “keep up with the Joneses”.

Motivation is huge for me. The “why” often outweighs the “what.” In our quest for the perfect vehicle, I’m seeing some red flags pop-up in my motivation…some warning signs that are saying, “Maybe you need to consider why you want that.” So this post is basically a confessional, with the hopes that it may help you if you’ve ever felt the same way.

In Matthew 13 Jesus states that the “deceitfulness of wealth” will keep your life from being fruitful.

Think about that statement for a moment. We all want our lives to count…to make a difference right? So if Jesus Christ says that wealth is deceiving, and even more that it can completely destroy our fruitfulness in the kingdom of God, we should probably pay attention.

So what does it look like? How can you tell when you’re deceived by wealth?

Three Red Flags You May Be Deceived by Wealth

1. Believing that ______ will make you happy.

You can fill in the blank with anything you want. New car, new phone, new job,  new house, new body, new vacation, new football team for Tim Tebow…the list is endless. Yet, the bible has a lot to say about joy, and none of it has to do with new stuff. If your relationship with God and others is out of whack nothing in the world will fulfill you. Nothing.

2. Your lifestyle corresponds to your income. 

I’m guilty of this. Our income increases and so does our lifestyle. This is actually the American dream right? Make more money so you can have more stuff? One of my heroes Jimmy Seibert always says “Live simply so others can simply live.” Those are wise words. What kind of eternal treasure (Matthew 6) would we have if every time our income increased so did our generosity, not our consumption?

3. You use net-worth to determine self-worth.

Imagine you’re getting on an elevator at a hotel. One of the housekeepers gets on at the next floor, and to your surprise so does Donald Trump. Between the housekeeper and Trump, who are you more intimidated to talk to? Who do you judge as more important? Let’s go deeper…as you stand next to these two individuals, without even saying a word which one makes you feel better about your status in life and which one makes you feel like you haven’t achieved anything?

In our country, wealth is the biggest measuring rod we use to determine success. Appearance is probably second to that. So when we’re around beautiful and wealthy people we feel a mixture of intimidation and envy. And when we’re around folks we perceive to have less money or attractiveness than us we feel proud about ourselves.

But is this how God determines a person’s value? If not, is it how you should?

Conclusion: I’m not against owning nice things or having wealth. I’m just against those things owning you. To be clear, the bible never says “don’t be rich.” But it is clear that our hope is never to be in wealth, but in God. I Timothy 6:17-19 sums it up perfectly:

Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share. In this way they will lay up treasure for themselves as a firm foundation for the coming age, so that they may take hold of the life that is truly life. 

Still on the journey,

-Wesley

PS. I’m sure there’s more red-flags than the three I listed, but these are the ones that pop-up in my life. If you can think of others, please post them in the comments section!

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Pursuing Profit at the cost of Purpose

Never pursue profit at the cost of purpose

Doing what I love, India 2004

“The two most important days of your life are the day you were born, and the day you discover why you were born.” – John Maxwell

Sadly, we’re very clear on the first day…but the second day…the day we discover why we were born, is often vague and shrouded in mystery.

I recently had a conversation with a friend of mine (thanks Chris!) and as he was explaining what he does he said “I was born for this.” For years Chris had a professional career in pharmaceuticals. Good pay, good benefits, you get the picture.

But lifeless.

Now he works at a church and even has to raise his own support to cover his monthly expenses for him and his family of five.

Risky? Yes.

Worth it? In his words…absolutely. Wouldn’t trade it for the world.

You see…too many people pursue profit at the cost of purpose. Financial security is so seductive.

Jesus said in Matthew 16 that “whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will find it.” Ironic isn’t it? When we seek to protect our lives, to secure up our resources, to pursue the ideal life, we wake up one day and realize we lost it. We have the house but lost our hearts.

I am so tempted by wealth.

At first, I wanted wealth just to be out of debt. God blessed us and we found ourselves making decent money. Soon the debt was gone. And money has quietly turned from a tool to pay off debt to an object to be pursued.

Part of me is okay with this. For years I silently judged people who had money, like there was something wrong or unspiritual about having money. I’ve had to learn that money doesn’t make you good or bad, it only amplifies what you already are.

So maybe the money isn’t my idol. Maybe it’s security. Maybe it’s reputation (“did you see where he  lives?”). Maybe it’s searching for that elusive feeling of success…how I’ll feel pulling up to work in my new set of wheels.

At the end of the day, when I can shut out the distractions, and long after “poser Wes” has gone to bed, I can honestly say I don’t really care what car I drive. Sure I want a nice place to live, but that’s not my highest aim in life.

Cars break. Houses rot.

But if you miss the kingdom of heaven because you’re focused on building your own kingdom you miss everything.

So friends, as you pursue financial freedom, heed my warning. Pursuing profit for the sake of being debt free is a noble cause. But once the debt is gone the profit itself can become your new prison.

Most people define financial freedom as having enough money that you don’t have to work. But too many folks have incredible “financial freedom” and yet are completely enslaved by their money and their desire for stuff (security, popularity, posessions, etc).

I want to propose to you a new definition of financial freedom.

True financial freedom is when money has no place in your heart, because you are full of the knowledge that God will meet all of your needs according to his riches in Christ Jesus (Phil. 4:19) and you live with the constant awareness that this earth is not your home.

Never pursue profit at the cost of your purpose.

-Wesley

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