Stewardship –Creating Wealth for God.
All that we have and all that we are has come from God. He has blessed us with money and possessions, and he has given each of us specific talents and abilities. We have been called to be good stewards - to use our money, our time and our abilities as best we can to benefit Gods kingdom.
Giving tithes and offerings demonstrates our obedience to God, and the recognition that all we have has come from him. Giving our time in the Lords work, whether in ministry, helping those in need or greeting people at the Church door, shows our determination to follow the Lords teachings.
Why is it then, if we are happy to faithfully give our time and money, that so many Christians seem to have an issue when it comes to discussing wealth creation.
There seem to be two distinct lines of thought – the one promoted by many of the big name TV evangelists who promote the "prosperity" and "name it and claim it" teachings and the other viewpoint of many of the conservative Church officials who push the opinion that seeking wealth is ungodly.
Unfortunately both of these viewpoints seem to run contrary to the word, and to Jesus teachings about stewardship.
The "prosperity" teachers promote the idea that whatever you give to God, he will return to you many times over. Although this is close to the teaching of stewardship, which says that you should seek to multiply whatever God gives you, so that you can give him more back in return. It has been distorted, in as much as the actual motivation behind giving promoted by the prosperity teachers is self based (if I give more, God will give me more) instead of focusing on Christ. There is a huge difference between giving to get more, and working to increase your means so that you can give more to further the works of the kingdom.
Some now try to imply that if you are not prosperous, then your walk with the Lord must be lacking in some area, and others at the other end of the spectrum are always making condemning statements about the evils of being rich.
We need to really look at what the word says, and the examples that Jesus gave.
I firmly believe that the enemy wants to deter us from aiming to invest and make our wealth grow, as he does not want us to be successful. He doesnt want us making lots of money that we can use for the Lords work. He doesnt want us to be able to fund mission outreaches or to feed the poor or to fund Christian satellite TV channels.
Some Christians seem to have the misconception that being wealthy is evil and being poor is holy. There is nothing holy about being poor. God doesnt want his children to be in poverty. A rich person has far more power at their disposal to be able to help where financial assistance is needed than a poor person. At the same time though we need to make sure that our motivation for creating wealth is to "get so we can give" as opposed to the prosperity teachers notion that we should "give so we can get". As long as we do not idolise money, and retain the truth that all we have has come from God anyway, then there is no need to feel any guilt about how much money we make.
There are many examples in the Bible that show Gods desire to bless his faithful followers with wealth:
(Gen 39:2) "And the LORD was with Joseph, and he was a prosperous man; and he was in the house of his master the Egyptian."
(Deu 29:9) "Keep therefore the words of this covenant, and do them, that ye may prosper in all that ye do".
(2 Chr 26:5) "And he sought God in the days of Zechariah, who had understanding in the visions of God: and as long as he sought the LORD, God made him to prosper".
and 1 Kings 3:13 "And I have also given thee that which thou hast not asked, both riches, and honor: so that there shall not be any among the kings like unto thee all thy days".
God loves to bless his children, especially if we in return are happy to bless others. Therefore there is absolutely nothing wrong with setting goals to be good stewards and create wealth to give back to our creator. In fact, as stewards of the resources God has given us, it is actually our responsibility to aim at increasing what we have.
We should be seeking to be successful for God. To genuinely set goals for investing both our money and time into the kingdom of God. The best way to increase your monetary wealth is not to go asking the boss for a pay rise, but rather to start a regular investment program. More important still, is to learn how to invest wisely and not be wasteful with our resources.
Before you can start investing you need to make some money available. One of the most effective methods it to use the 10/10/80 Plan. 10% of your income to God, 10% for investing and live off the remaining 80% of your income. This may take a little time to adjust to, but when you consider the long terms results that you will achieve once you start investing, you will find that it is extremely worthwhile.
You will have all heard the expression that "The second million is always easier than the first". This is absolutely true – the reason being is that it is compounding interest that has the greatest power to create wealth, and the more you have invested that compounding can work on – the quicker your wealth will grow.
In mathematical terms 72 divided by Compound Interest Rate of Return = Years for Money to Double in Value.
Therefore if you have an investment growing at 10% compound interest, it will double in value in 7.2 years (quadruple in 14.4 years and be worth eight times as much in 21.6 years). If it is growing at 12% it will double in 6 years.
John D Rockefeller who was once one of Americas richest men said that "Compound Interest is the Eighth Wonder of the World".
Einstein once said, "The most powerful concept or principle in the world that I am aware of is that of compound interest".
When deciding on the best areas to invest in, it is worth taking into consideration the fact that over 90% of the worlds millionaires have made their money through property.
In Australia over the past 50 years property has averaged 10% p.a. compound growth. (Carefully selected properties have averaged even greater returns). Not forgetting that investment properties will also be generating an income from rent.
Median priced property has averaged growing at a rate of 2 – 4% p.a. higher than inflation, making it a very solid investment.
I believe the most effective way to build riches is to accumulate a portfolio of investment properties (over the space of 7 to10 years) and then let the power of Compound Interest work to your benefit.
It is possible to borrow 100% of the purchase price of a property plus expenses by securing the deposit against your own home, so that you dont have to come up with a cash deposit.
There are many different strategies for property investing, which suit different people depending on their current income or financial position.
God will give you the wisdom to decide on the best strategies for your situation if you put in the time and effort to learn as much as you can and seek his direction. It is wise to also seek professional advice, as rules and regulations and tax effectiveness will vary between nations.
The main reason that property can be utilised more effectively than shares as an investment, is due to the added benefit of being able to highly gear an investment property.
Gearing or leveraging is where you use a small portion of your own money along with a large portion of someone elses money (in this case a loan from the bank) to secure an investment of a far greater value than you could have using only you own money.
If you had $10,000 to invest and invested it directly into shares that were growing at 10%, then in 7.2 years they would be worth around $20,000. On the other hand if you had used that $10,000.00 as 5% deposit on a $200,000.00 property and had borrowed the remaining 95% plus establishment costs. If this also grew at 10% then in 7.2 years your investment would be worth $400,000.00. Meaning that by leveraging your investment you have gained an additional $190,000.00.
Keep in mind here that there are two types of Debt. Good Debt is where you have borrowed funds to secure a capitally appreciating, income producing asset. Bad Debt is where you borrow to buy a capitally depreciating, non-income producing item such as a car, boat or holiday.
A combination of using Good Debt to buy property and then allowing Compounding to do its work – seems to be a most effective way of creating wealth. But this is definitely not a "Get rich quick scheme", on the contrary it is a "Get rich slowly" scheme which works most effectively over a 10 to 20 year period. It takes patience and perseverance, but after having spoken to dozens of other property investors, many of whom have become multi millionaires within the space of 10 to 15 years, I am certain that it is worthwhile.
I believe God wants to start shifting the wealth of this world into the hands of Christians, who can plant it back into his kingdom.
Debra Lohrere is the author of Christian Investing and Money Management http://www.lulu.com/content/378757 and Peace, Prophecy and False Fire http://www.lulu.com/content/333221