The world will tell you that “money can’t buy happiness,” but do people’s actions line up with their words? Observe advertisements and television shows about the lifestyles of the rich and famous. Their implied messages can lead you to believe that the more money you have, the easier and more enjoyable your life will be.
Is the perception that money can buy happiness actually true? The reality is that great wealth and prosperity can be an enormous burden. Some of the world’s most successful people in history have attested to this:
- John D. Rockefeller, who earned great wealth through the Standard Oil Company, once said, “I have made many millions, but they have brought me no happiness.”
- Henry Ford, founder of Ford Motor Company and a successful businessman, was quoted as saying, “I was happier when I was doing a mechanic’s job.”
- “It’s not the creation of wealth that is wrong, but the love of money for its own sake,” said Margaret Thatcher, former Prime Minister of the United Kingdom.
These famous people had tremendous wealth and/or power, yet they testified that having money wasn’t always fulfilling. Ron Blue, in his book Generous Living, explains two faulty assumptions in the great wealth paradox:
- Assumption: When you accumulate money, you enjoy greater freedom and satisfaction.
- Assumption: When you accumulate money, you will have freedom from fear.
In actuality, great wealth can complicate life. According to Ron Blue’s book, “Since there are always unlimited ways to spend limited dollars, it doesn’t matter whether you make $20,000 or $200,000 per year. You will always have choices to make. More money simply means more choices. And more choices mean more complexity, more confusion, and more time spent mulling over options. Taken together, all of these things add up to less freedom.”
An increase in net worth can also mean an increase in fear. The more you have, the more you have to lose. The cure for financial fear isn’t greater wealth — it is recognizing that God owns it all and the money is His in the first place. Recognizing God’s ownership of your wealth releases you from fear and allows you to put your trust in Him, not in your net worth. He is the one providing for your needs, and He always will provide, as long as you honor Him with the wealth He has entrusted to you.
Thatcher, Rockefeller, and Ford understood the power of wealth — its power to have a hold on people or to make a difference in the lives of others. Charitable giving can release us from fear and complexity as we trust God to use the wealth He has given us in the manner He wishes to use it.
Are you living under faulty assumptions or in freedom?
At Ronald Blue Trust, we educate clients on effective stewardship. It’s our privilege to help clients develop a financial plan that incorporates charitable giving into their goals. If you would like to connect with an advisor to help with your personal financial plan, please call us at 800.987.2987 or email [email protected].