Every year there is a list published by Forbes Magazine of the 400 wealthiest Americans—“The FORBES 400”. Consider this astounding fact for a second. The Jews represent less than 3% of the U.S population. HOWEVER, each year they are estimated to make up between 20-50% of the people featured on the Forbes 400. WOW!! Did you read that? Their should only be 5- 10 Jews on that list but somehow there are 80-100+ consistently. How have the Jews accomplished this? What is it that the Jews know about making money and building wealth that you and I don’t? That’s what I would like to discuss today.
This past year I read a book by the name of “Thou Shall Prosper”. It was written by Jewish Rabbi, Daniel Lapin. The entire book is about the laws/beliefs the Jewish people possess that have enabled them to become so wealthy. I want to share with you today one law in particular that really challenged me and my belief system on money. Lapin terms this belief as the “First Commandment”
THE FIRST COMMANDMENT
The Jewish people believe the “act of making money in business” is holy and righteous in and of itself. The Jewish people believe that money is a sign of blessing. Obviously this is not always the case. Certainly there are those who have attained wealth through dishonest means. The Jews believe the act of making money is tied to providing value and service to society and thus their first assumption when meeting someone with great wealth is that that person has been blessed and must have found a way to deliver a great level of value and service to the people around him. As Americans, our first assumption is much different!
Americans have been heavily influenced by a media that says the act of making money is morally suspect. Media has taught us that making large amounts of money and becoming highly successful must mean that I am a selfish person. We have been taught that large corporations are the bad guys and the CEO’s who lead them are the pirates at the helm. How has the media done that? They have done it by portraying businessmen as the villain! In the book Hollywood vs. America, Michael Medved wrote that prior to 1965, television portrayed businessmen as good guys twice as often as bad guys. This ratio was reversed in the 1970’s, when audiences began seeing two business villains for every good guy. If we look at Hollywood today, don’t we see this trend continuing? We are continually being bombarded with movies that feature greedy scoundrels running multi-million dollar companies.
Do you see how the implications of this belief system can impact our ability to build a successful business? The Jews believe that what they are doing everyday is righteous. WE DON’T. Lapin sums it up best with these words…
“The rule is that people seldom excel at any occupation that deep down they consider unworthy; and even if they are neutral about the morality of business, that neutrality is a weak reed on which to build success.” Daniel Lapin
As I reflected on this idea that Lapin was sharing it really challenged my thinking. If I was truly honest I had to agree that deep down I believed there was a certain level of “selfishness” to the fact that I wanted to build a successful real estate company that generates a lot of profit. It’s almost as if I believed a certain level of prosperity was o.k., but if I became too prosperous, I should feel guilty for it. I had developed a subconscious connection between prosperity and un-righteousness! I think sometimes we can see this false belief system show up from time to time in our prayer life as well. Do you ever feel like you shouldn’t spend “too much time” in prayer asking God to bless and prosper you? Do you find yourself thinking deep down that to ask God to make your business explode is a selfish request? I know I did.
We must realize, like the Jews, that business is about serving people. We grow businesses that expand and provide jobs to other people. My team now has over 15 people on it who all depend on the incomes they receive from my work and leadership and marketing. That is a Holy and Righteous activity in and of itself. Each day we are developing new and innovative programs that serve our clients better than our competition. This is the beauty of a free-market. The consumer wins because in order for us to stay competitive we must develop innovative ways to serve them better each day! And best of all….the better we become at serving—the more money we will make! His word declares: “Whatsoever a man sows, this he will also reap”.
If we look at Gods word we see time after time He has shared His desire to bless and prosper us. He is our Dad and we are His kids. We know that parents love to give and bless their children. Surely one of the most fundamental and primary ways that God blesses His kids is by causing their work to prosper. However, I believe that before He can do that in its fullest measure, we must believe in the intrinsic value of what we do every day. We will never succeed if we subconsciously feel guilty about becoming successful!
Do you remember who created work in the first place? It was God! It was God who put man in the Garden of Eden and told him to get to work. He told him to “be fruitful and multiply”. The enemy has lied to us and told us that being fruitful and multiplying is evil. Why? The last thing our enemy wants is for Gods people on earth to have large amounts of money to invest in the Kingdom of God and the message of the Gospel of Christ!
Have you seen the impact of this belief system in your life and business? I would love to know your thoughts!
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