There are a few topics that make Christians and non-Christians cringe when discussed from the pulpit. One of those topics is money. No one likes to hear preachers talk about money. Sometimes I think we’d be more comfortable talking about homosexuality. Well, whether or not the subject makes you cringe, it is an important issue to tackle. Most people seem oblivious to the reality that the Bible says quite a bit about money. One of the most popular verses in scripture reads, “Money answers all things” (Eccl. 10:19). Though most of us have heard this scripture, we still think that money and spirituality should be separate.
Today, I want to share something interesting with you about money. I also want to tell you upfront that my goal is to reshape how you think about it. Romans 12:2 tells us to be transformed by the renewing of our mind that we might prove the good, perfect, and acceptable will of God. This verse teaches us that access to the will God comes by how we think. Believe it or not, God also desires that you renew your mind regarding how you think about money. So the goal of this article is to change your mind so that you can access the will of God as it relates to money.
#1 Money is Not Made. Money is Moved.
Let’s start by building a foundational idea about money. I want you to understand that money is not something that you make. It is something that you move!
A few years ago God said to me, “Kevin, don’t use the term make money anymore. You don’t make money. You move it!” It was an interesting departure from the way I viewed money. I had never considered that the term “making money” is loaded with bad connotations. The phrase “make money” almost implies that money somehow pops into our life with little human involvement. Also, most people who lack money think of it as something that is made. Wealthy people, however, have adapted to the idea that money moves.
So how does money move? What was God talking about? As I continued to listen to Him speaking He explained to me that money is part of a system of trade. He further explained that getting money to flow in my direction meant that I needed something to trade. “That something is a product,” He said. Then He gave me this example to explain how money moves through a process of trade. If you go to the store to by milk, you are engaging in a trading process. The store owner says, “I’ll trade you a jug of milk for $3.52.” Likewise, you are agreeing to trade him $3.52 for a jug milk. It was an ah-ha moment for me. Once I started seeing the world of money through the lens of trade everything in my understanding opened up to me. I also began to handle money differently.
Understanding that money moves through the process of trade leads me to principle #2. If you are going to engage in a trading process then you need something to trade. Here is something that is important to understand. Money flows in the direction of the one with the product. Let me say that again. Money flows in the direction of the one with the product! Consider my previous example regarding the constomer and the milk. The money flowed to the store owner.
There is a lesson in all of this. God taught me that there are two categories of people. There are consumers and there are producers. The consumer likes to trade their cash for their needs, wants, and comforts. All of us are consumers to some degree. Some, however, are only interested in being consumers. That means that they are always depleting their financial resources. They rarely think about how to replenish it. Sometimes they even go as far as going to a producer called a creditor to borrow more money to further their pursuit to consume. Consumers are called such because they consume. They only think about what “they” want. The producer, however, likes to trade their goods/services for cash. The producer also thinks about how to supply a need. Real business is built on the selfless pursuit to serve a need.
We can see the idea consumers and producers is the scriptures. Most Christians have never thought about the fact that God shows us that He makes producers. In Deut. 28:13 He says to Israel I will make you the “lender”, not the “borrower.” See, lenders (producers) and borrowers (consumers).
God wants you to produce!!! “Produce what?” you may ask. God wants you to produce a product. A product is something that can be sold. For our purposes today, it is something that can be traded. A product can be either a good or a service, or both. A smile can be a product. Time can be a product. Strength can be a product. Wisdom can be a product. Oratory ability can be a product. An organizational ability can be a product. You are a product. Anything can be a product that puts you in a better position to enter into a trading process.
I am an artist by trade. Most people assume that my gift is a talent. It is very easy to see what I do as something that can be traded. Music, dance, writing, and singing are often thought of as talents, while the things I mentioned above, i.e. speaking, strength, wisdom, organizational ability, are often not thought of as talents. Therefore, many people with these abilities think of them as less valuable. But, today that is going to change. I am going to show you that your smile, your ability to hug and comfort, your ability to maintain a calendar, as well as your artistic abilities can all become products to trade for money.
Some of you may be thinking, “Where is this concept in the Bible? Where does it show us that God gives us products to move money in our direction? Let’s go to 2 Kings 4:1-7. Here is a story of a woman in serious debt. Her situation is so dire that the creditors are going to take her child as payment on her debt. That is a serious debt problem! Then God sends the prophet Elisha into her life. When he enters the scene he gives her the word of the Lord for her situation. The word of the Lord tells her to gather up her empty vessels, fill them with oil, and sell them to pay off her debt. So get the picture. When God got ready to resolve her issue He gave her a product to sell. The product caused her to enter into a trading process whereby money flowed in her direction.
Here is another example. The Bible says in both Isaiah 55:10 and 2 Corinthians 9:10, “For He gives seed to the sower.” This is an agricultural reference. It is about farming which was the economic building block of the biblical world. Notice that it says that God gives the farmer a product. It is from that product that the farmer reaps a harvest. And it is from the harvest (the product) that the farmer enters the trading arena. See, when God wants to give us money, wealth, or financial stability, He gives us a product.
#3 God Gives His Seeds to those that Sow Them
Oftentimes, the Church thinks of sowing and reaping in the context of giving. We erroneously confuse Jesus’s statements about giving and receiving with the concept of sowing and reaping. Am I saying that giving is wrong? Am I saying that sowing does not equate to giving? No! I am not saying that sowing does not equate to giving. I am saying that sowing does not only equate to giving.
The Miracle Seed
During my conversation with God, He said something shocking to me. He said, “My people treat the offering plate like a slot machine.” Wow! What did He mean? That is s pretty stunning statement. What He was referring to was our miracle mentality. We believe that all of our financial needs can be solved by sowing one big offering. In our minds, giving a big offering will yield that magical payday. What we fail to realize, however, is that God would rather not satisfy us for a day. He would prefer to satisfy our future and subsequent generations.
For example, God did not do miracles in the promised land. Miracle provision occurred in the wilderness. It was for the hard times in Israel’s life. His ultimate goal was to get them to the land of provision; The land that He referred to as flowing with milk and honey, and with vineyards they did not plant. Somehow, we have lost our focus. We think that we are supposed to live on miracle provision. But, here is something to think about. Miracles only last for a season. They only address the immediate need. Real blessings are visible in Abraham’s life. He left home with nothing and halfway through the journey he had so much stuff that he and his nephew had to part ways to manage it all. The best part is that we get a glimpse into how Abraham acquired wealth. And it was not by miracles. It was by trade.
In Genesis 12:14-16 Pharoah takes Abraham’s wife, Sarah, for himself. When he does, he compensates Abraham with wealth. In other words, he gave him money for his wife. I know that sounds bad, but that is what happened. Though it is a terrible thing, we still see money flowing to the one with the product. So, God did not make Abraham rich by miracles. He made him rich through the process of trade.
The Seed Idea
So far I have shared that money is not made but moved. I have also explained that it is moved through the process of trade. Then I told you that entering into the trading process requires that you possess something to trade. That something that you need to enter the trading process, is a product. Last, I said that a product is something created that can be sold. Now I need to tell you where to start.
Where do you start? How do you get to the product phase? Well, first you need an idea. Oh no, this is the hard part. From where on earth do I get an idea for a product? Actually, this is not the hard part. Getting an idea is the easy part. The hard part is getting another idea. Why? What makes getting another idea harder than getting the first idea? Getting the first idea is easy because God has already put it in you. The question then becomes what have you done with the first idea. That is an important question to answer because as my subtitle states, God gives seeds to those who sow them.
When you are born God placed in your midst the ability to dream and the ability to do something specific. Some of you have natural proclivities towards organization. Others towards arts. Some are athletic. Some of you have a great taste for what is visually appealing, etc. There are all kinds of abilities in people that they have not utilized.
Let’s go back to my passage Isiaha and 2 Corinthians. They tell us something very important about God. It says that He only gives a seed to the one that He knows will do something productive with it. In others words, He only gives His seed to producers/product makers. This idea is mirrored in Matthew 25:14-30, the Parable of Ten Talents. In the story, three men are given something of value. One received a talent, the other guy two talents, and the last received 3 talents. The servants who received the most talents turned their rations into profit. The servant with one talent, however, did nothing productive with his gift. Also, he was very careful to give the master back exactly what He gave him. The master responded by giving the productive servants more. See, He gives seed to the sower! In contrast, He responded to the unproductive servant with anger and disappointment. He was so disappointed in fact, that He took the one talent back and cast the servant into torment.
I used to be very confused about the Master’s reaction. I thought to myself, “What in the world is He mad about? The man didn’t lose His money. In fact, he gave it back. The Master didn’t gain anything more, but at least He didn’t lose anything.” Then I realized that the Master’s disappointment was not about the servant laziness. It wasn’t even about his lack of productivity. It was about the fact that he didn’t even try. Then it all made sense. Why would God give you more, when you won’t do anything with less? For instance, you like to wash cars. But you won’t even wash your parent’s cars. Why would God send you more customers? You are not taking advantage of the opportunity in front of you. Remeber, God gives seed to the sower!
Some of you are very gifted with knowing what looks and does not look good. You possess the ability to put colors and patterns together in a way that confounds others. Your friends always ask you for decorating tips. You are the one who creates the centerpieces for the wedding reception. Yet, you do it for free and never take advantage of gaining business from those opportunities. You are not doing anything with your seed. Plus, you are financially strapped and praying for money. What if I told you that God answered your prayers with the opportunity to use your talent? If you really pay attention, using the talent leads to more opportunities to use the talent. I call using the talent “sowing” the seed.
Now, let’s talk more about how God gives us seeds. As I stated above, God gives a seed but we must sow it (use it). Not doing so stifles our ability to stimulate a cash flow. How does God give you a seed? God sends us seeds in the form of an idea. In 1 Kings we looked at a woman who used oil and jars to make a product to pay her debt. But how did she know to take that course of action to resolve her problem? Some of you are thinking, “Duh! The prophet told her.” Yes, he told her what to do. But how would you classify the information that he gave her? Think about it. What did the prophet really do? This is what he did, he gave her an idea—God’s idea to be more specific. Yep! God gave her an idea for a product. Then she used the product as a leveraged item in the trade process. What she did with the product moved money in her direction. Are you seeing it yet?
This may be a good time to give you examples of products. My son, who is 12, offered to wash my car. I have trained them in this concept, so he understood that he was going to move money in his direction. Knowing that he understood this I said, “What is the product that I get in return for the money?” He said, “My time.” I then told him that time can be a product, but not in this case. He then argued that I was paying for his services. So I said, “Son, I am not paying you to clean my car. I am paying for a cleaned car. A clean car is the product. That is what I need.”
This experience with my son taught me that that it is good to define the product. Remeber, the product is the thing that is produced by your effort. For the house cleaner, the product is a cleaned house. For the wedding planner, the product is a successful and memorable wedding. For the organizer, the product is the system that allows order in someone’s life. The product is always what is actually being traded for the cash. It is a satisfied need. This may seem trivial, but trust me it is not. When it comes to adverting, you will need to be able to clearly articulate what the product is. That will be the key to facilitating the trade.
#4 Sow into the Problem, Not into the Harvest
Problem-solving is the engine of creativity. Creativity ceases to exist when we cease sowing into the problem. So many people fail to be sustained in business because they lose sight of the nature of business. Business in the art of problem-solving. Likewise, when a person loses sight of that they cease to have access to the seeds/ideas they need to create a harvest.
Think about my example above. My son almost lost sight of the one thing that would cause money to flow from my pocket to his. He became so wrapped up in the idea of getting my money that he failed to identify the one thing that would facilitate the trade, namely my need. I cannot tell you how important it is to keep your focus on sowing into the need.
When I started my first book, “God, is that You, Me, or the Devil?” I did so out of a good place. However, as money challenges arose, I took a different position. All of a sudden, writing the book was about money. It was terrible. Every time I faced financial hardship I would say to myself, “I need to write a book and sell some of this wisdom.” Though this was my intention, I soon discovered that God would not participate in my shenanigans. Every time I sat down to write the book I faced sleepiness and a blank mind. For me, a blank mind means no help from God. I knew then that I was in trouble. At least I thought so. God, in His wisdom and love, decided to teach me a lesson. He told me not to chase money, but to chase the need. He said, “When you go to a restaurant and the service is bad, do you feel free to give a tip.” I said, “No.” He then said, “But if you feel as though your needs have been met, is tipping easier then? I said, “Yes.” He then said, “Meet the need and the money will be easy to move.” He was right. No one gives their money to people who don’t satisfy their needs. From that moment on I worked at meeting people’s needs. After this word of correction from God, I sat down to write with more ease. I also learned that there was access to a deeper level of revelation and wisdom. It was only available to me when I changed how I approached ministry. I discovered that creative and innovative ideas live in the realm of need. Creative people see the world as it could be. Then they say to themselves,”I am going to make so and so and it will do so and so for people.” They think of ways to meet the need.
So, sow to the problem, not to the harvest.
There is so much more I could say on this issue, but I will leave it here. Remember, don’t say make money anymore. It is not something that you can make. It is something that you move!
(In a future article I am going to deal with the issue of money and ministry. Questions I plan to answer in that article include: Should people in ministry charge? Do they have the right to do so? Why they charge in the first place.)
Welcome to Doing Life on Fire!