Weekly Impact is written for leaders by our Executive Director, Garth Jestley, who has decades of experience in senior leadership roles in the financial services sector. Each week he will share insights on life, leadership and faith.
“Those who love money will never have enough. How meaningless to think that wealth brings true happiness!” (Ecclesiastes 5:10)
The foregoing wisdom from the Bible came to mind when I read an article in the August 10, 2016 edition of the National Post by Joseph Brean. Entitled “Big win ‘lottery curse’ begets another riches-to-rags tale”, the article notes that these large jackpots tend to destabilize the lives of winners, leaving them worse off than they were before.
This sorry tale brings to mind a broader issue concerning cash as the solution to personal and business problems. We are courting trouble whenever we formulate our problem as “the lack of cash”, which begs the question: “How do I acquire cash?”
A better question is: “Why do I need the cash?” This (often uncomfortable) question requires a willingness to confront issues that perhaps one would rather sweep under the carpet. Not everyone wants to face up to reality. “Get rich quick schemes” generally appeal to those who are unwilling to confront the reality that success is generally spelled h-a-r-d w-o-r-k!
For example, the individual in the National Post article clearly had many problems in his life before his big win. The jackpot solved none of them. As a result, he went through his winnings quickly and was back in trouble with the law. Without a change in his lifestyle and values, this outcome was inevitable.
True contentment cannot be bought.
Similarly, if we have a single-minded fixation on the accumulation of wealth through hard work, we run the very real risk of undermining the most important relationships in our lives and, in the extreme, engaging in unethical conduct. Failed marriages, alienation between parents and children, and the infamous collapse of Enron come to mind.
When I was in the venture capital business, companies in our portfolio sometimes faced urgent cash needs. Through experience, we learned that determining the reason for the unanticipated cash shortfall was an important condition precedent to writing a cheque. For example, significant management changes might be in order before investing additional funds.
Faith in God is very relevant here. During his earthly life, Jesus often spoke about money. Then as now, money was the usual means of facilitating the exchange of goods and services. On one occasion, he acknowledged that we have legitimate needs including food and clothing. He went on to say, however, that our primary purpose in business and in life should be to do his bidding in every situation. In turn, he will ensure that our needs are met.
The writer, Matthew, who was previously a money-focused tax collector, recorded Jesus’ words as follows:
“Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.” (Matthew 6:33)
Assuming our cash need is not symptomatic of another problem that must be addressed, followers of Jesus can have genuine peace knowing that God will meet our needs.
Garth Jestley is a husband, father, grandfather, leader and business executive. Most importantly, he is a follower of Jesus Christ.