Episode 777: The Unluckiest Powerball Winner

So Powerball is all the rage this week, and since I’m desperately trying to stay relevant, I’ll just hang my literary hat on the latest surge of social enthusiasm.

In the resolve from the climax of anticipating the billion-dollar Powerball drawing last night, I was drawn to reflect on the impact the winning of such large sums of money has on the winners. And as always, the seemingly trivial things of life provide us an opportunity to look inward and learn important things about ourselves: What would happen if you suddenly had a billion dollars in cash? Really, think about that. You could suddenly own a hundred ten-million-dollar homes. We’re talking ocean-view, posh indoor and outdoor swimming pools, multiple living areas, elaborate bathrooms, multi-car garages (in which you can now park the most valuable vehicles on earth), helicopter pad on the roof… and you could have a hundred of these!

Or you could employ an army of 20,000 people full-time for a year. Or 1,000 people for 20 years… Think of how much good you could do!?

So why is it that, most of the time, people who suddenly have tens or hundreds of millions of dollars are broke within a few years? Why is it that, years later, they don’t report being happy with all of that cash? They either become consumed by protecting it or they are consumed by chasing the next thrill that was more expensive than the last. Like a drug, the thing that gave you a thrill before is now commonplace to you, and you must spend more to get the next thrill, which is the natural cycle of addiction (gambling is a perfect example of this phenomenon; gamblers must continually risk more money in the same games to achieve the same thrill).

The unluckiest Powerball winner is the one who is given much before they’re ready to carry it well. It owns them instead of them owning it.

So if both courses lead to personal consumption, how do you avoid either of them? What is the third option? And why do so few know about the third option?

“Wealth gained hastily will dwindle, but whoever gathers little by little will increase it.” — Biblical Proverb

First, consider that most people that play Powerball are in a “get-rich-quick” mindset, which is a poverty mindset. They look to a foolish source for the opportunity for prosperity (to be clear, this is not all Powerball players). Sadly, in this case, the State has exclusively carved out this method of exploiting the poor for their own tax revenue purposes; it’s probably the easiest way for them to tax the poor by getting them to be voluntarily taxed. They are drug dealers for the souls of the poor. *steps off soapbox*

So what’s the third option? The only way to be free of a lot of money is to be free of a little money first. And by that, I mean the idea of “financial freedom” is terribly misrepresented by our modern society because it’s somehow connected to money. I remember reading Robert Kiyosaki’s explanation being passive income that equals or exceeds your personal expenses. I wanted that so badly! I ran after it for years. Until one day, long before I wasn’t dirt poor anymore, I was on a walk with my wife, and I was expressing (at some length) about my frustration in endlessly pursuing financial freedom and not getting anywhere. Her response was straight-up divinely inspired. She lovingly said, “Kurt, you’re already financially free because God has promised to provide for you.” Boom. I was toast. I realized my pursuit, and the modern societal ideal of financial freedom, was defined by a sense that I am financially in control of my own life, when by design, we’re designed to be dependent on God.

“Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?” — Jesus

In the end, I’ve come to realize that we are vessels of value, and God can only give us as much as we can handle, like a grape branch can only yield so much fruit before it is damaged under the weight (and must be pruned for years before it is allowed to bear any fruit). We usually think of that idea in the way that God only gives us as much bad stuff as we can handle, but I think it swings both ways. He can only give us as much good responsibility (and money is a responsibility) as we’re able to steward well. So if we want to be given more responsibility, we must steward the less we have well. And by that, I mean we must yield it to the purposes of the One who gave it to us to begin with. We must be stewards, not owners. And that doesn’t mean that those who have more money are holier in any way, because money is just one way in which responsibility is given to a person, and there are plenty of people that have lots of money, but that money is a curse not a blessing to them because they cannot carry the weight well.

But if you are really able to let go of your focus on money and let God provide for you, and look at yourself as a humble steward of what He has given to you, you’re financially free. No additional criteria need to be met. Congratulations.

But if money still causes you anxiety or is something you long for, you’re not free of it.

“Can any of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?” — Jesus

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