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(This blog post corresponds to Episode 57 of The WealthBuilders Podcast ‘Renew Your Mind: A Fresh Perspective on Biblical Prosperity, Part 2.’ Click here to listen, and be sure to catch Part 1 if first if you haven’t yet!)

Money doesn’t buy happiness. Money is the root of all evil. More money, more problems. I’m sure you’ve heard the sayings, and there is some truth to them. But at the end of the day, money is just the middleman. It replaces the need for us to carry around chickens and bushels of apples to buy things. However, money does require financial stewardship. In simple terms, financial stewardship is the wise use of money.

Developing financial stewardship skills takes time, practice, and a measure of risk. That’s why people who come into wealth quickly typically don’t hold onto it very long. For example, lottery winners are three to five times more likely to go bankrupt than the average American, and 70 percent of them end up broke. You must become a millionaire in your thinking before you become one in your bank account.

This blog post will cover:

  • The Importance of Financial Stewardship
  • A Tale of Two Families (An Example of When Wealth Goes Wrong)
  • What Does the Bible Says About Wealth?
  • How God Partners with Us Financially
  • Your Next Steps

The Importance of Financial Stewardship

Everything that we have is a gift from God. In this life, we are stewards of God’s creation—not owners. So, we need to learn how to sustain and grow our resources wisely. On one level, financial stewardship allows you to provide for yourself and your loved ones. However, as you grow in knowledge, wisdom, and understanding, you will build the kind of wealth that can provide for your whole community. Financial stewardship is how we present a positive return to God on the gifts He entrusted us with.

[Related: 5 Lessons I Learned About Stewardship from the Parable of the Talents]


A Tale of Two Families

The stories of the Rothschild and Vanderbilt families are a great representation of the importance of financial stewardship. Many people have heard of Cornelius Vanderbilt, but very few have heard of Amschel Rothschild. Vanderbilt died in 1877, and at the time of his death, he had amassed a fortune of $105,000,000. For his time, you could pretty much call him Bill Gates.

In 1972, 120 of Vanderbilt’s heirs met in a hotel room in Nashville, Tennessee. In this meeting, they discovered not one millionaire existed in the entire group. Cornelius Vanderbilt had only left his money behind; he never taught them how to handle that

kind of wealth. The companies he set up worked, but the lack of training to his descendants was the ultimate downfall. Cornelius Vanderbilt’s fortune ended up completely squandered by 1972. One-hundred years after his death, it was all gone!

Then there’s Amschel Rothschild who lived in Frankfurt, Germany. He died in 1812. The Rothschild’s are a banking family in Europe. Rothschild had five sons who moved to five different capitals in Europe. Amschel Rothschild gave his sons two options whenever they looked to start a business. He formed a family bank out of his fortune, and with that family bank, the sons could either:

  1. borrow the money and pay back the bank on terms or
  2. allow the bank to take an equity position in their company and provide equity instead of debt.

He required his sons to study business. Then when they dove into a new business, they had to write everything they learned down and report it to the family bank. This way all of the heirs could share in that knowledge. As of 2015, the Rothschild family still has an enormous fortune, and the reason they still have their fortune is because Amschel Rothschild understood the importance of financial stewardship. You must teach people how to handle money, especially in massive amounts.

One of the Vanderbilt’s grandsons who got to enjoy some of the wealth said, “Inherited wealth is a real handicap to happiness… It has left me with nothing to hope for, with nothing definite to seek or strive for.”

One of Rothschild’s grandsons, Nathan, said, “It requires a great deal of boldness and a great deal of caution to make a great fortune, and when you have got it, you require ten times as much wit to keep it.”

Proverbs 20:21 puts it this way:

  • “An inheritance gained hastily in the beginning will not be blessed in the end.” (ESV)
  • “An inheritance hastily gotten [by greedy, unjust means] at the beginning, in the end it will not be blessed.” (AMPC)
  • “Quick wealth is not a blessing in the end.” (TLB)

There is a process to building wealth. This knowledge should bleed into our understanding of biblical prosperity as well. I always say that money is attracted, not pursued. We need to equip ourselves with financial stewardship skills. I’ve said it once and I’ve said it again—God isn’t going to drop wealth on your head like rotten cherries off a tree. Sure, someone may randomly bless you with $100 or God might get you out of a financial pinch in a miraculous way. It is wonderful when things like this happen, and I’m not belittling them. However, I believe that God wants to partner with us in our finances in much greater ways. We have to do our part too, though.

Devotional and Transactional Money

When it comes to how God partners with us in our finances, I’ve found that there are two categories of money: devotional and transactional.

Devotional Money: The tithes, offerings, and donations that are freely given and received.

Transactional Money: Money you earn or create through your job or passive income.

In my experience, God blesses people with real wealth when they learn financial stewardship skills and create the system for Him to bless. This blessing isn’t so they can hoard riches for themselves. Rather, it’s so that they can continue to steward and grow the area God has called them too. They’re able to give more, too. Think about it—which amount would allow a ministry to grow more–$100 or $1 million? We all have the capability to build wealth. God is no respecter of persons. If I can do it, so can you.

It is important to note that we all have a measure around our lives. (2 Corinthians 10:13, Psalm 16:5-6) Obviously, not everyone is meant to be a millionaire. Financial stewardship of that caliber takes a lot of work. Each person has their own area of expertise where God has called them to be prosperous. However, in my experience, many Christians never take the time to really consider and explore the financial measure God has put around their life. They are either:

  • Afraid of taking risks
  • Don’t believe that having wealth and a Christian faith can coexist
  • Uninterested in putting in the work

Ask God today where He’s asking you to prepare. Are there steps towards financial stewardship, such as creating a budget or investing, that He is leading you towards? Perhaps you want to become an entrepreneur or create your own nonprofit.