I have been a Christian most of my life and as such have had a lot of time to think and consider both tithing and the discussions around the prosperity gospel. As a younger man eager to get ahead in life, the subject of finances was of course very intriguing as I was trying to work out how the world of personal finance works.
My pastor and I were standing on the beach early this morning watching our boys surf when he mentioned that he read the article on My Christian Daily about Benny Hinn and how he has renounced the prosperity gospel.
We had a brief discussion about it and much of the damage that has been done over the decades by preachers and televangelists telling people they can be wealthy simply by giving.
I have been in business for over twenty-five years now and I can tell you that you don’t stay in business that long by being a dummy. I am not suggesting I am super smart here by any means, but you have to be – or at least become – very streetwise to survive. You go through ‘the school of hard knocks’ on many, many occasions and as such you develop a very good detector and radar on people and information.
However, I am not here to discuss Benny Hinn and his theology, or whether his latest comments are genuine or not, but as a Christian who genuinely cares for his brothers and sisters, I want to be clear that you don’t need to hear a prosperity gospel to be well off.
You see, there is no secret formula to getting ahead. You simply need to be very good at what you do, you need to work hard, you need to ensure you do not spend more than you earn, and if you develop this pattern for your life, over many years, you’ll be very surprised how far you will go.
Some years ago, I read the bestseller The Richest Man in Babylon. Before I embarked on reading it, I was eager to see what his ‘secret’ was. But as I read further, I saw that it was very simple. Work hard, give ten percent of your wage away, pay off your debts, and save ten percent. Was that it? I mean, how can you be the richest man in Babylon living with such a simple formula?
Well, the author wasn’t talking Bill Gates and Warren Buffett riches here. He was talking about the sort of wealth that sees you live a life where you are getting ahead financially, where you have money saved for a rainy day, and where you are a long way away from the debt collectors and bankruptcy courts.
Becoming rich is highly intentional. To be rich, basically you have to want to be rich, such is the hard work and risk you’ll need to undertake to achieve it. Becoming financially independent, on the other hand, does not need a magic wand waved over your finances, nor access to miracle offering.
I am a very big believer in tithing, and I can attest in my own life that I at times sit back and I cannot work out how we have managed to get as far as we have. Tithing one hundred percent works, and even if you’re dubious, in any case, we should be helping to support those in ministry who spend their days helping others. Pastors and church staff should receive fair remuneration for their hard work.
One of the biggest issues with the prosperity doctrine is that there is no onus on you, the giver, to do anything. You put the money in the offering and God will do the rest. Well, it doesn’t quite work like that. Yes, you put the money in the offering and you trust God that He can do great things with it, but you now need to take responsibility for your actions.
You need to work hard. You may need to study, you may need to get better at what you do so you can earn more money. You may need to start spending less than you earn. You might need to start reading about investments and property and money management so you have the skills to manage the money that is in your possession. You might need to turn off the TV or shut Facebook for a while so you can work on the areas of your life that will ultimately help you sleep better at night.
Prosperity is the result of doing the little things right in your life. Yes, there is a blessing that is on your life as a child of God, but it’s your job to do all you can and be diligent with what you have if you really want to see prosperity in your world.
Otherwise, if God pours prosperity into your world, without adequate financial skills and the ability to manage money, it might not last that long.
Matt Danswan is the CEO of Initiate Media, publishers of Christian Woman. He also blogs at www.mattdanswan.com. His new book NOT Business As Usual documents the story of the building of Initiate Media debt-free.