– CAN A CHRISTIAN HAVE WEALTH?
Ralph was raised in an upper middle class Baptist
home, and money was never really discussed much. It later occurred to him that
perhaps his parents had a poverty complex left over from the Depression years.
As a family, they were never able to buy anything unless it was on sale. They
waited in lines for the after-Christmas sales. They never threw anything away,
and giving to a beggar was totally out of the question.
His grandfather was an active investor during the Depression, and later Ralph
found out his grandfather considered suicide when the stock market crashed in
In college, Ralph subscribed to the Wall Street Journal and was
always on the lookout to get rich. After graduation, he tried investing in
stocks, bonds, gold, diamonds, etc. He asked himself, "Can a Christian have
Ralph says October 19, 1987, known as “Black Monday,” was one of the low
points of his life. It wasn’t that he lost his money or his clients’ money
(which was the largest one-day decline in the stock market in history). It was
the loss of control and the fear. “My attitude was ruled by the whims of the
market,” says Ralph. Even when he made money and it was a good day, Ralph was
still upset and unreasonable with everyone. The stock market crash confirmed a
decision to quit the money management business for good.
Even though he was only 40 years old, Ralph decided to retire since he had
made enough money to do so. “I loved money,” admits Ralph. “As long as I could
remember, I had always wanted to have money. And that was they way my life had
After the crash, Ralph went on a retreat to get new direction. On the
retreat, Ralph had a conversation with God and discovered that the money he was
making and investing was actually God’s all along. He also discovered that the
difference between a deal with the devil and a deal with God is that the devil
is a taker and God is a Giver. After giving God complete control over his
business, it began to prosper and Ralph saw assets double every nine months.
With God as the Owner, the cash flowed.
THE WEALTH CONUNDRUM
Ralph says there are two types of actions with regard to money: making it and
giving it away. While they may seem totally opposite to each other, Ralph says
when examined more closely, they are quite similar. Most of us go through life
making money and spending it on ourselves or saving it. Ralph says Jesus had a
broader view of wealth than money accumulation. “He was talking about investing
everything you have to get the greatest return,” says Ralph. “It means investing
your life and whatever you have in people.”
Several years ago, Ralph bought a Twin Turbo Porsche. One Sunday at church
during a fund raising campaign for their new church building, Ralph felt God
asked him to not just give money but also to sacrifice. He felt the Lord tell
him to give up his top prize possession: the Porsche. So Ralph sold it and
donated the funds to the church. “I think of all my possessions in the ‘on loan’
category,” says Ralph. “If I think of money as something belonging to God that
He has given to me to manage, it retains its proper perspective in my life. It’s
His money with my name on the account.”
Over the years, Ralph says he has learned not to make it a sole object in
life to accumulate great wealth. However, he has discovered some wealth-building
principles that work even for those not ready to begin a lifestyle of giving.
- Look for ways to be generous.
- Give the first 10 percent.
- Record your expenses.
- Don’t play the lottery.
- Establish a budget.
- Compound your interest.
- Use IRA and other tax-deferred investments.
- Never borrow to buy a depreciating asset.
- Borrow money for investments or home mortgages.
- Stay out of debt.
- Minimize risk by diversification.
Ralph graduated from Regent University’s Biblical Studies masters program.
One of his courses was “The Life and Teachings of Christ.” In the class, Ralph
had to write a term paper on Jesus’ teachings and decided to write one based
upon what Jesus taught on money, which has become his life message.