Story: God and Money

This is Jonathan Collins at the Bible Project and this is Tim Mackey So today We're doing something different on this Podcast instead of having a discussion On biblical theology which is what we Usually do I want to tell a story yeah So John got all investigative and he Found this really cool story that even I Don't know that much about and so the First thing off here is what is this Story that we're all going to learn About yeah this story is about two young Men and it takes place at Harvard Business School which is out uh in Boston right yep now they both go there For different reasons they become Friends and they decide to write a paper Together on what the Bible has to say About money and what they see confuses Them it challenges them it causes their Lives to completely change This is a story about God and money [Music] So Tim money can be really dangerous Doesn't the Bible say the the love of Money is the root of all kinds of evil Or something like that yeah yep that's In the first letter of Timothy uh from Paul the Bible has tons of warnings About money uh but it also has tons of Wisdom about what to do with it in Really constructive ways too the Bible Recognizes that money is this Paradoxical thing in the world yeah so I

Became really interested in this Paradox And was thinking about money a lot Meeting people who think about money From a Biblical point of view and Through that ran into these two guys two Young guys making a ton of money in Their early 20s and they plan on making A lot more money in their lives they They have this really interesting story So I fly out to Nashville to meet them I Bring some audio equipment with me to Record them we're in this this friend of A friend's living room and I'm just Trying to figure this all out this is Rookie John Wrong So that's Greg snapping in the mic I sit Down and I first asked them to tell me a Joke I heard them tell once at a church Service this is this is John's joke it's A great Pastor joke and warning it's a Really bad joke yeah so uh a guy has the Chance to talk with God one-on-one and He's asking God all these questions and He's like God you know what is a billion Years like and God says oh a billion Years that's like one second what you Got to understand about John and Greg is That they're both Uber geeky dudes Greg Is in finance John's an engineer I mean This joke is right up their alley the Guy thinks about it and says well God What about a billion dollars what is That like and God says you know a

Billion dollars to me is like a penny These guys are smart and they know how To make money so the guy gets smart and Says well God can I have a penny and God Says you know sure give me one second Yes and you guys like to start with that That's a is that a crowd favorite it it Can be yeah it depends on the crowd That's how we loosen the crowds up with That one yeah so now that we're nice and Loosened up let me introduce you to John I'm John cortinas currently living in Orlando Florida in his early 20s John Was making a hundred and fifty thousand Dollars a year working for Chevron so a Fair bit of coin and John had secured And overseas job with Chevron where he Was going to make 350 000 to 400 000 a Year as an expat there's all this talk About the one percent it kind of felt Like being not only in the one percent But in a position where it's like where The maybe the top of the one percent in Terms of opportunity in terms of the Ability to build wealth and then there's Greg I am Greg Balmer I actually live Here in Nashville and Greg's early 20s He was making 275 000 a year working for a private Equity Group called Advent never explicitly Thought I really want to earn this much Money for the rest of my life to be Honest I wasn't doing a lot of long-term Planning and just to be frank uh I was

Enjoying the moment so a couple of Ballers so John and Greg have these Plush jobs but for separate reasons they Go to Harvard Business School to get an MBA and this is where they meet and they Find they have a lot in common first of All they both want to make a lot of Money in their lifetimes and secondly They're both Christians so they love Their families they go to church and Most importantly they tithe we both Tithe before business school gave 10 of Our income and we thought that's what a Good Christian does you tithe and then You're good with money it's like a Membership feat of my church essentially So sorry did he say membership fee yeah His tithe was like a membership fee to The church wow that's fascinating why is That fascinating being generous to your Church is part of your membership fee That's so weird but think actually it Makes sense in America at least think About the word member Um if you are a member at Costco you Know or Sam's Club is going to cost you Something yeah you pay your fee to be a Part And it's and then you're entitled to the Privileges pertaining there too and all That kind of thing but on a practical Note let's be honest for many churches They're working on a budget if you've Got people who really believe in this

Membership fee yeah that's useful yeah You're stoked especially if it's guys Like this if they're rolling then you Know they're they're big players in Making the church work and the last Thing you want is for them to begin to Question whether or not they do need to Tie their membership fees well that's an Interesting place I think church leaders Find themselves in so Greg he figures This out in one of the classes he has to Write a book report we had to write a Midterm book report And I wrote my book report on a really Terrific book by Professor David croteau Called you mean I don't have to tithe So I had been a lifelong tither and it Really rocked me because as you can tell By the title of the book Professor krito Argues that we do not have to tithe here I've got the book up you can see it have You are you familiar with this book no I Don't I don't know you mean I don't have To tie the deconstruction of tithing and A reconstruction of post tithe giving Yeah for some optimism there yeah right Uh that's that's fascinating I I already Kind of like the book because it's uh Deconstructing something that's not Super helpful to people yeah so the Biblical practice of tithing again you Um most of our listeners know we're Committed at the Bible project to Reading the Bible and it's historical

Literary context Um so the ties commands come from uh the Laws of the Torah given to ancient Israel what's interesting there's three Places the Thai that's talked about in The laws of the Torah and there's some Debate but what we know for certain is That 10 percent was not was the Israelites were called to give they were Called to give a tenth of their produce And their land that's 10 to the temple Yep we're tithes it just means 10 give That to the temple annually they were Also supposed to save up a tithe another 10 once a year and hold a big Town party And invite all the poor people in Levites that they know that's in Deuteronomy 14. and then also every Three you're also simultaneously saving Up for every three years of a tie that You donate to the local essentially food Uh food bank for the poor so there's Some math you know differences about are The two ties the same uh but at a Minimum in Israelite is tithing uh 23 Some odd percent of their total income What's interesting is that that practice Is bound up with the Covenant between God and Israel it's like their tax and That's why it's mentioned in the New Testament by Jesus mentions tithing Because people paid a tax to the temple In Jerusalem But what you don't find

Um is the mention of the 10 or 23 Practice being done in any of the Earliest Jesus communities in the New Testament the tithe was specific to Israel living in the land with its Temple the early Christians did Something different which again that's Surprising when most people learn that Hmm So You don't have to tithe The earliest Christians Did not practice tithing but they were Committed to extreme generosity within Their Church communities and that opens Up a whole new Vista that isn't attached To the number 10 yep and so this is why I like this story so much we haven't Even gotten into the story yet but John And Greg begin to encounter the Bible And what God actually has to say about Money and it isn't as simple as just Write a 10 check that God was asking for A lot more from them and that was a Total shift in my thinking and I didn't Know what it was going to look like or What that meant but I knew that things Were going to be changing [Music] [Applause] [Music] Okay so we know that both of these guys Had a lot of money and they're young Um but what we haven't established is

That their views on money are very Different completely different So when you have extra money kind of fit In one of two buckets either you become A saver or a Spender And now John is what would you would Call A Classic saver so my online Banking password which has since been Changed uh was retire at symbol 40. John Is a guy with a clear objective in his Life obviously and this began at an Early age you know my dad gets home from At the end of the day empties his Pockets that's the keys aside and drops All the change in there so it's like the Family change bucket right except it was It was mine you know it was John's Change bucket you commandeered it the Can was underneath the master bed so go Into my parents bedroom pull this can Out that might even be heavy as it gets More and more over time and then lay Down on the carpet and just dump it out And you see the money spread out and It's like oh yeah there's all my money And then the Sorting process begins and You kind of like realize quickly that The pennies are not you know they're not Going to do much for you but the Quarters are where it's at and then I Had this Post-It note and I would like Write my new total of the amount of Money that I had which you know my net Worth basically I think that was my

First image of assets going up over time And getting excited about that so John Gets the bug for accumulating wealth and He devotes his life to it but John Doesn't just want to be a slave to Making money he wants a job where he can Make a lot of money but it doesn't Require a lot of hours how can I make The most money in the least hours how Can I make a really comfortable Six-figure income and kind of be home at 4 30 PM every day so Tim you can imagine John's a number geek he wants to find The perfect job for accumulating wealth But also a job that doesn't require you To work long hours so what do you think A strategy is going to be I have no idea he's a numbers guy he Loves inputting numbers yeah People don't use calculators anymore Nope my calculators He puts it all in an Excel spreadsheet Oh just like you Oh I'm not a numbers key our desks are Right next to each other and it's not Uncommon for me to look over and see John working on a Google spreadsheet Okay well imagine on a scale of one to Ten like I'm a three yeah John is a Spreadsheet 10. holy cow that's hard to Imagine how did you design the Spreadsheet uh just kind of researching Jobs there so there's this graph in There that's like hours per week versus

Total income and you want to be like in The right quadrant of that graph for Like high income low amount of work John Makes spreadsheets for everything yeah Spreadsheets are my love language Tim guess what the top two jobs in his Spreadsheet were for low hours but High Income low hours High income wow not a Bible scholar Uh not a doctor that's what I was first Thinking but that's you give your whole Life yeah right you're on a pager wow or Something Oh I don't know I don't know something To some computer computer coders people Who People who build things Architects can Make a lot of money you can take a lot Of time though okay you want to hear yes All right the top two jobs for working The least amount of hours and getting The most pay according to John's Spreadsheet were the two best jobs I Could find were being a dentist or being A petroleum engineer and I was like I Don't want to look at people's teeth Because that's gross so I think I'm Going to be a petroleum engineer because The starting salaries were like a Hundred thousand dollars a year you know You could do that right out of school And so that that's basically what I did So John goes to graduate from Texas A M He starts working for Chevron as a

Petroleum engineer his spreadsheet dream Job he's pulling down more than a Hundred thousand dollars a year but That isn't as far into the right Quadrant you can go when I started Learning more about these oil and gas Careers I learned you can make even more Money if you go overseas and so if You're making 100 or 150 in the States You can go do the same job in Nigeria or Australia or Kazakhstan and make three Or four hundred thousand dollars a year And I was like that's what I want to do I want to go overseas and do that the Problem with this plan was John would Need 10 years of experience before even Being able to apply for an expat job Like that I said no way I don't want I Don't want to wait 10 years so what's The faster way they said well you can Get an MBA and apply to this special Program we have and we only take a Couple people every year maybe three or Four people but you could try for that And so I said okay that's what I'm gonna Do they told me they get about a Thousand resumes applying for that Program in a given year and in my year They took six interns and so we all Interned for the summer and then they Ended up only selecting three to get the Full-time job and I was fortunate enough To be one of those three so John has Secured his most upper right quadrant

Job that he can imagine working in the Oil industry overseas and while I've Never personally had a dream of being a Petroleum engineer John actually made it sound pretty cool You know some of the biggest projects in The world are oil and gas and so I was Looking at being on some projects in Western Australia with you know 30 to 40 Billion dollar investments just Unbelievable scale and scope and you're Thinking about bringing energy to the World and and again the work-life Balance is is pretty decent in that Industry compared to finance or Consulting they usually provide some Amazing housing for you there's in some Cases you have a staff got a gardener And a cook and a driver you know I'm Promising that to my wife too hey Megan We're going to go overseas it's going to Be amazing we're going to live in like In this mansion on the beach and there's Going to be like people serving us and So that's kind of what we had in mind And then all the while you're putting You know 100 150 000 cash into the bank Every year that you're overseas because You're not spending it exactly yeah and So I was really excited by the prospect Be on some of the biggest engineering Challenges in the world living like a King and and putting away a ton of money The entire time you're doing it this is

A Savers Paradise but John doesn't want To just sit back one day on a beach with A big retirement fund John has big Aspirations for his family yeah I was Reading books about how to create and Sustain a family Dynasty you think of The bushes or the Kennedys I was like What if I could create a family like That with millions and millions of Dollars that you know does all these Great things so that's John a saver with A vision for a family doing great things In the world and we'll be back to his Story soon but let's turn to Greg if John's the classic saver Then Greg is a Classic spender Greg was making 275 thousand dollars a year in his early Twenties what's a guy like that do with All this money uh enjoying spending most Of it frankly so we were living in a Fancy apartment in the Back Bay Neighborhood of Boston spending a grand A month on fancy restaurants taking Five-star International vacations now It's easy to applaud someone for saving Money like John it's wise it takes Self-control and it's easy to to judge Someone for spending money frivolously And carelessly but talking with Greg About this time in his life I didn't get The impression that he's a careless and Selfish guy in fact he told me a story That I think captures why he felt so Free spending money you see his dad ran

A side business he saw it as a hobby of Sorts where he would import things from China and then sell him on the weekends At the flea market I used to go with him Every Saturday to the flea market to Help sell stuff and then also as I got a Little older to kind of manage the money That was coming in and I remember one Day I was packing up at the end of the Day and I had this big pink box that was Full of hundreds of dollars in both Paper cash and coins And my dad tossed me the keys to the Truck and not thinking you know just Reaction I dropped the box to catch the Keys and the box broke on the ground Coins flew everywhere in the flea market Dollar bills are flittering away in the Wind now you can imagine how upset his Dad Is gonna be at this moment the look of Horror on my dad's face sticks with me To this day and then he immediately Repealed that look and saw how sad or uh You know I felt like I let him down and He could see that and immediately sort Of changed his countenance and came and Helped me clean it back up I can imagine Greg their little kid Realizing in that moment that Relationships are more important than Money you know money comes and goes Don't hold on to it so tightly don't Worry about it so much the the real

Treasures in life are each other in my Dad in that moment I also kind of saw an Image of God is like he's our father and He cares for us uh he provides for us so It's a moment that's always stuck with Me so Greg he goes on to study finance And early in his career he lands this Amazing job at a place called McKenzie And from there he's hired as a junior Associate at a private Equity Firm Called Advent now this is the big Leagues this is where you can get Uber Rich private Equity this is where people Like Mitt Romney made most their money And this private Equity Firm collects Money from investors not rich Individuals but rather Sovereign wealth Funds University foundations family Endowments and then invest that money to Buy companies they own those companies For a period of three to five years and Then attempt to sell them for a profit Return the money to them the investors And then take a cut for ourselves and We're talking big money here uh Advent Managed an 11 billion dollar fund the Average check that we would write for a Deal was 400 to 600 million dollars I Was 26 Earning 275 000 a year and I was the Junior guy the senior Partners uh were Earning Millions the leaders of the firm Were earning tens of millions of dollars A year and as we already established

Greg was having a good time spending it Yeah it was incredible uh and you know So I I had always grown up in the church So I knew I was supposed to tithe so I Did tithe during that time but honestly Two two things about that one is when I Was earning that level of income and it Was just my wife and I I didn't feel the Tithe you know a tithe on 275 is 27 That's 27 000. I had plenty left uh and Then two I always thought of that tithe More as sort of the cost of admission to Keep God happy so I could spend another 90 however I wanted Greg's Junior Associate job there at Advent is about To end but he's hooked he wants to come Back move up the ranks but first he has An opportunity to go do some more school And he chose uses to go to Harvard Because I saw how much the senior Leaders at the private Equity Firm Relied on the network that they had Created while when they were in graduate School and the way it worked out was my Boss and his boss and his boss were all Harvard grads so there we go John the Classic saver is heading off to Harvard To get his MBA it's his last Prerequisite in order to get his dream Job as a petroleum engineer overseas and Greg the spender he's also heading to Harvard to get his MBA in order to go Back and make some serious cash in Private Equity this is where they meet

And form a friendship and it's in the Classroom here at Harvard where God Shows up and gives them a paradigm about Money that turns their lives upside down [Music] Okay so John and Greg they're both Heading to Harvard they're getting their Mbas Uh first day of school is about to come Yeah You did Graduate Studies do you remember I did for a long time yeah for most of Your 20s yeah what was it like first day Of school That's so different It's so different I mean I I actually Thought this might be my only season of Life where I get to study this much Because I don't know how this is going To get me a job so uh when school's over I'll probably have to have a normal job Yeah this is just what a totally Different experience were you going Um already having had a good job and Then you're going as the step forward to Your dream job yeah yeah these guys They've kind of got it made in a way Right and they're just doubling down Right most people would be satisfied to Just keep going on the track they were On yeah but they Wanted to do this next step so they both Show up at Harvard but they have Different strategies I show up at

Harvard knowing that what I want to do Is form relationships with these 900 Other students who will accomplish great Things in their career first day of Class I sit down in my seat there's 90 Other students in the room we start Doing introductions One guy played in the NFL one woman Skied in the Olympic trials one guy had Operated 13 rescue missions in Afghanistan one guy was an emergency Room physician at Massachusetts General Hospital and so sitting down in the room In the classroom that first day I think Proved that I was in a really fortunate Position John on the other hand could Care less about the networking this MBA Was just a box to check I had the job Locked up that I wanted and so I wasn't As worried about the social side my wife And I also went to school with a Four-month-old child and so my Priorities were Get intellectual engagement and Learnings out of the program I'm not a Business guy I'm an engineer so learn Business get the intellectual Stimulation and then spend time with my Family so while John buckles down and Studies Greg starts networking his face Off attending all kinds of networking Events career events social events it Fills up your entire calendar and you Live in this little bubble and this is

How they meet one of the social events That they both decide to attend is this Men's bible study slash study group kind Of thing for Greg he gets to network John he gets to study so every morning They do a devotional together for 15 Minutes or so and then they spend the Rest of the hours studying for their Classes together when there wasn't a lot To study they would just chat about life Instead we started to become very close And sometimes we would talk about money In these devotionals and so I think that Was kind of a uniting point between the Two of us something that we're each Interested in they both want to make a Lot of money in their lives and they Want to honor God with their wealth in The best way they know how but they Quickly realize their attitude about What to do with money was completely Different I'm talking about my Spreadsheets and how awesome they are And then like investing and I've got This big thing on Vanguard and like Where do you invest Greg and he's like I Don't know wherever they stick the 401K You know like I don't even know and so That's kind of where the Judgment Started and I'm like this guy like he's In finance but he doesn't even know like Personal finance how does that work you Know I could like see him sort of get Visibly like energized at the like the

Mention of the word Vanguard and I mean John has a Vanguard t-shirt and Mug he was making so much money like More than me before school but he spent It all like that's that's kind of weird Why would you do that what shocked me About John is what I viewed as Incredible conservatism with respect to Love and he like doesn't save money like That doesn't make sense or I go to John's house I use his Vanguard mug Ingest it felt kind of like The Odd Couple to some extent And we uh it really started coming out More and more when we took this class Together in our third semester of Business school yeah so you told me About this part of the story they sign Up to take a class at Harvard Divinity School yeah because they get a couple of Electives at HBS and Greg's thinking it Would be cool to go to the Divinity School one of my good friends at the Church we attended in Boston was getting His PhD at Harvard Divinity School this Friend's name is Scott one day Scott Calls me and says hey Greg I have the Perfect class for you to take at Harvard Divinity School It's called God money and uh we said we Like God and we are pretty big fans of Money so let's sign up for this class And it's just like this little walk up a Hill from the business school the class

Was actually set up in some ways similar To our Harvard Business School classes In that they were case-based for them For the most part we would have assigned Readings beforehand and then we would Come to class and discuss and debate Some issue that related to God money a Few examples might be whether or not we Should build casinos in the state of Massachusetts which at the time was a Huge debate another is the Prosperity Gospel pros and cons another is the Great Recession of 09 and the Culpability of Wall Street as well as The responsibility of Wall Street for Main Street So those are the types of things that we Would debate in the class so they're Debating all of these ideas and it's Feeling very esoteric But for the midterm they have to do a Book report And I wrote my book report on a really Terrific book by Professor David croteau Called you mean I don't have to tithe so I had been a lifelong tither and it Really rocked me because as you can tell By the title of the book Professor krito Argues that we do not have to tithe and Greg's thinking wait We don't have to tithe Really That midterm book report ripped away This idea that I was being obedient to

God by simply cutting my 10 check every Week and never thinking about it again Moreover the class really convinced me That money is something that God deeply Cares about so now there is this void in My world view or void in my theology so To speak a gap about how I should handle Wealth meanwhile I'm at Harvard Business School with the great capacity to create Wealth in the future now of course There's no guarantee that will happen But were it to happen I was worried About what I would do with that money so Greg goes from being excited about Making lots of money to worried about Making lots of money because he doesn't Know as a Christian what he's supposed To do with a lot of money Meanwhile John he's in class two and He's getting convicted as well he's Particularly convicted by a conversation They're having about this guy named Clement of Alexandria so you had Clement Of Alexandria just a few Generations After Christ talking to his congregation About you know there are those of you Who are storing up wealth for yourselves And your families without being generous To those in need and it dawned on me This is not just a problem for the 21st Century for for me to do but it happened All through the church's history and so That was really shocking to me to see That this is a problem in the human

Heart that's not just our modern economy We are wired to accumulate for ourselves But the Christian church had always Stood against that impulse I mean that Must have been kind of convicting for You at the moment because that you had This multi-generational plan going on And you had this this I'm gonna pile up And retire at 40. did did that feel Convicting or jarring or what did that Feel like at the moment it felt totally Jarring and another thing that really Got me was the parable of the rich fool Luke Chapter 12. so Tim let's stop here I'd love for you to set up this Parable Yeah yeah this is a classic parable of Jesus about the rich Fool Um Luke Luke chapter 12. someone in the Crowd approached Jesus and said to him Teacher Tell my brother to divide the Inheritance with me So somebody Wants Jesus to get involved in family Politics Yeah a family dispute yeah family Dispute and Jesus replied Man who appointed me as a judge or Arbiter between you And then he said to them watch out be on Your guard against all kinds of greed Life doesn't consist in an abundance of Possessions so we told him this Parable

The ground of a certain rich man yielded An abundant Harvest and so he thought to Himself what shall I do I don't have Anywhere to store my crops so then he Said ah this is what I will do I will Tear down my Barns and build bigger ones That's where I'll store my Surplus grain And then I'll say to myself ah you have Plenty of grain you've laid up for many Years take life easy eat drink be merry But God said to him you fool this very Night your life is demanded from you Then who will get what you've prepared For yourself this is how it will be with Whoever stores up things for themselves But is not rich towards God Jesus Master master Storyteller so what does The parable have to do with the the guys That want to divide the inheritance yeah It's interesting uh yeah Jesus Apparently discerns that the motives of This guy This is about storing up for himself so That his life is easy this is a powerful Parable by itself it's also happening in The section of Luke that's called The Journey section that goes from chapters 9 to 20. and this is Jesus on the road To Jerusalem and it's actually Interesting in these chapters of Luke Jesus talks more about money than Anywhere else in the gospels put Together and it's paired with Jesus

Constantly making himself and his Mission available to the poor to like The poorest of the poor So he's extremely critical of people who Have lots of wealth you don't get away Unscathed from the Gospel of Luke if you Have a lot of wealth and part of that's Cultural in the ancient world there were Fewer ways to make a lot of money fairly So if somebody's wealthy you're Instantly suspicious that you got this From somebody else you got it through Crooked means but also Jesus just had a Huge value on a radical generosity to The poor and so he most of his teachings On money reflect suspicion towards People who want to accumulate loads of Wealth for themselves well John's Feeling the suspicion from Jesus yes and He's like he starts to identify with the Rich fool yeah so I was reading the Parable of the rich fool and realized This is my hero this is a guy who is Building bigger barns to store up his Great Harvest and he's going to be Financially independent he's going to Retire that's what I want to do so I Love this guy and then Jesus turns Around and says you fool and I realized At that moment that's what he was saying To me and the plans that I had built Around my wealth was there any part of You at this moment that was like well Maybe that's true but maybe it's not

You're trying to kind of Wiggle out of It a little bit totally I was trying to To wiggle out of it and trying to find Ways to say You know well well maybe that you know 10 is generous and I'll just give 10 and If 10 of a lot is a lot and I'll feel Good about that but something in me knew That it was not going to be the same After I'd been exposed to these Concepts From God's word So at this point John and Greg are Feeling totally exposed and confused I Mean if you aren't supposed to give 10 Of your income if it's not that simple Then what's the answer what are they Supposed to do with all this money They're planning on making they don't Have an answer and so they decide as Their final assignment in this class to Write a paper they write it together and They're trying to answer that question What does an obedient Christian do with Their money John and I elected to write Our final paper on sort of creating a Modern framework for giving in the 21st Century like should I give more I'm Going to give 10 do I just give 15 now Or Is it is there more to it how should we Think about this and so I I had no idea What the answers were but I kind of Wanted to spend some time thinking hard About it and maybe talking to people who

Were further on the journey than we were We were trying to create a plan for what We would do with the money that we Thought we might get someday so here's What they do it's it's pretty smart they Get access to Harvard Business Schools Christian Fellowship alumni database so This is like 300 email addresses of Christians who had graduated previously From from the same program they were in And they send all of these people a Survey asking them questions about their Giving and the survey was super Aggressive it was Anonymous but it was Like tell us your net worth tell us your Income tell us how much you give away Tell us why you do that and um Unbelievably we got over a 50 response Rate and so we had this very rich data Set of people who had given us this Information so then we started digging Into it and and as they dig around they Begin to see answers in the survey that Blow their minds they begin to encounter Story after Story of people just like Them who have a radically different view Of God and money and this survey becomes Like like the turning point that moment Where they realize Everything's Gonna Change neither one of us had any idea That the project would take on the kind Of life that it has that we'd be sitting Here with you almost a year later I mean It's it's been mind-blowing what has

Happened we'll find out what the survey Said and what's next for them in the Final Act [Music] [Applause] [Music] Thank you [Applause] [Music] [Applause] [Music] I find it really interesting they send The survey out and even though it's Anonymous These aren't things that you really are Allowed to ask people usually like I Don't go around to my friends saying how Much money are you making now and how Much are you saving and how much are you Giving and it's awkward that'd be Awkward yeah it'd be really awkward yeah People wouldn't want to hang out with You Start having those conversations yeah And we don't talk about it in church Really like you don't sit down in a Small group and say like hey everyone Pull out their tax returns from last Year let's check it out yeah And it's of course that makes sense That's comfortable but in another way That's odd I mean the the founder of the Jesus movement Jesus

Uh thought the way we relate to money is So important he talked about it nearly Half of all of his teachings he's using Either money imagery or about our own Relationship to money one of his most Famous lines where your wealth is shows Where your heart is your ultimate values And commitments Um that's why he stressed such radical Generosity And why the early Christians were known For that too So it's it's odd it's comfortable not to Talk about it even in Christian Communities but it's odd we're we're Betraying Our Heritage uh with what Jesus actually said about money so John And Greg they they've never heard Anything else other than the typical Giveaway 10 of your cash because people Don't talk about it so they send out the Survey to 300 of the Harvard Business School alumni and they're asking them All these questions about their wealth Unbelievably we got over a 50 response Rate and so we had this very rich data Set of people who had given us this Information so then we started digging Into it and then looking we would see People like oh that guy gives 50 of his Income away like I didn't know that was A thing like you can do that and then People would leave comments like you Know I go to work every day to make as

Much money as I can so that I can give As much money away as I can and we're Like that what like that you're not Gonna retire at 40 if you're doing that Um yeah who does that and so we so we've Done the survey and then we actually Sent a follow-up email and said you guys Are Anonymous so we don't know who you Are but some of you had these crazy like Giving percentages and stories about Giving if you're willing to come out of Your anonymity will you do follow-up Interviews with us and so we started Doing these phone interviews with people And that's where it got incredibly Rich To hear stories of generosity what were Some of the standout stories So there's this young couple in their Early 30s in Southern California Who had started doing well financially They were thinking they might upgrade Their house and they felt led by the Holy Spirit to write a 100 000 check to Their church and they used part of that Money to set up a scholarship program For an orphanage and then used the rest For a variety of causes within the Church but again this just totally blew Our mind in terms of like why would you Not put that into a college fund for Your own kids or pay off your mortgage Or upgrade your house like how just how Could you use that much money for Something other than yourself it doesn't

Make any sense Does not compute doesn't fit in the Spreadsheet right doesn't fit in the Spreadsheet at all Um even even more mind-blowing perhaps For the saver guy which was me a hedge Fund partner who makes millions of Dollars per year and he tells us like You know guys I intentionally avoid Building my net worth because scripture Warns against the danger of doing that And I'm like that's my whole life plan Is to build my network and this guy's Like you know I I give generously and I Have a ton of fun giving my money away And I also don't want to build wealth Year on year so I avoid doing that How does he avoid doing it this is an Amazing story this is one that really Got me he buys really big insurance Policies honestly that's a strategy is I Don't have to save because if I buy a Large life insurance policy a large Disability Policy then I will be fine And my family will be fine if something Happens to me and in the meantime I can Just give all my money away and he you Know to be clear he doesn't he doesn't Save zero dollars so he's got a smooth Path to retirement and vision but he Could save it in like three months but He's like you know I'll take 30 years to Do it and so it's just a very different Mindset around that I'm not going to

Accumulate for myself quickly I'm going To give now and save later And it sounds like he really enjoyed it That's what really started rocking my World so as a Spender I always thought I was obtaining Joy From nice meals and fun vacations But The joy that these individuals who lived Highly in generous lives The Joy they Experienced was literally like radiating Through the phone in these interviews And I was Uh Like emotionally and spiritually Impacted by the Holy Spirit working in Their lives and by the convincing and Convicting stories they would tell about How much better their lives were from Like a happiness perspective when they Elected to live generously so that's What was really rocking my world view That was Uh found the foundation was stuff before That and did you get a sense of like I I Want those kind of stories I want that Kind of Joy Badly yes I mean I I definitely I would Hear these and I remember one instance In particular that's uh this woman with Whom we were speaking who was Expressing the incredible Joy she and Her husband Felt from writing a large gift to their

Church and you know I was like feeling Emotional feeling convicted by the Holy Spirit I was feeling jealous I wanted to Experience this feeling that I had never Felt when I had just cut my Thoughtlessly cut my 10 check into the Offering plate in the past they finished Their paper it turns out to be 90 pages Instead of the required 30. and as a Result of writing this paper they start To have thoughts they never had before I Think money had always been a Self-oriented tool that I would again Tithe on but the benefits of money will Accrue to me I will have more wealth I Might have a nice house someday and I'll Give some money away because I should do That it's like a membership fee of my Church essentially something like that And I was beginning to catch this vision Of money that was grander than that to Say My money can number one be a part of God's mission in the world and number Two if I give that might help me unlock Something in life that has more joy and Purpose to it than just having a big Pile of it when I die so this paper is Finished and it begins to circulate Around people would read it and they'd Love it and they'd pass it to their Friends who would read it and it got a Life of its own our term paper got Emailed around from person to person and

Eventually we got a call from the President of generous giving generous Giving is a Christian organization it's A non-profit and their goal is to help Christians have a radical shift in the Way they think about money or as they Just think about it a Biblical way to Think about money and the president is This guy named Todd Harper and the President comes to meet with us in Boston and ends up making a job offer to Each of us Todd thanks for making time yeah man Happy to do it so I call up Todd Harper To get his side of the story because John's side of the story at this point Is that this job offer not only came out Of left field but for him was really Really disturbing you know I didn't go To Harvard Business School to work for a Ministry the whole idea was really Frustrating that's actually an Understatement we hated the idea of Doing it Todd went to go meet with John And Greg because he thinks they have a Really compelling story and the main Thing that he does at generous giving is He lets people tell their stories of Radical generosity and they say see look This is normal this can be a normal way To live it seems absurd to be so Radically generous but but actually it Brings a lot of Joy I went up to Boston In February uh to meet with them and

About You know 30 minutes into our we'd carved Down about three hours to to visit and 30 minutes in I was just taken by who They were what God was doing in their Lives their vision for for being Difference makers so it really felt like A Divine encounter so you didn't fly out There with the expectation of offering Them a job not at all at some point in The conversation you thought to yourself I want these guys to work for my Organization that's right I I had no Idea if their answer Ought to be yes Um but it it it felt like a kind of a Unique encounter and that that maybe God Was doing something and I think fairly Quickly for John There was a quickening of his Spirit and frankly a little bit of Anxiety because He had his plan we were like we want to Go overseas and make a lot of money we Don't want to we don't want to work for A Ministry but but we felt like God was Calling us to that you hated the idea But you felt God was calling you what is That what does that actually look like I Think it's it's kind of like being Jonah Where God says go preach in Nineveh and You say I don't really want to do that And he says no I want you to do it and So for us you know I was fasting a

Little bit and praying and feeling like I was being led to take this offer and Then convincing myself no I'm gonna go Work for Chevron and then I get an email From a missionary who's in Hong Kong Doesn't know my situation and he says Hey by the way Um you know the father put you on my Heart last night and wanted me to tell You that maybe there's something he has For you besides Chevron I don't really Know what that might look like but you Should think about it and I'm like Seriously God come on with this we'd Spent five years I mean doing everything We could to line up this job and so we Would put our son to bed and then go lay On our own bed and and just cry and and We basically lament to each other this Is our life this is what we've wanted And can God really be asking us to lay This down so this really messed with John after you gave him the offer you You said he had anxiety he he said he Would weep with his wife about why you Were screwing up his life This is a guy who could be making 400 000 a year and if he does have this Paradigm of generosity he could be Giving a large portion of that away how Did you feel okay Messing with someone's life plan like That well I told him in no uncertain Terms that if God was calling him to do

This He could mobilize Infinitely more resources Through coming to work with generous Giving than he could by making a great Salary and living modestly and giving The extra away And I think that captivated his sense of A vision It did Captivate John but it didn't make Him happy it was kind of just this um This unrelenting frustration with God I Don't know if I would say anger at God But just frustration that he would foil Our plans in what felt like such a Severe way I mean here's the perfect World that we have created and all of Our labor has gone into getting us to This point and like God you could have Called us into Ministry three years ago Before I even had this job but I Literally am getting calls from the Chevron movers saying can we send the Trucks and I'm like well give me give me Another day or two and it's like why Would you do it like this in this like Uber dramatic fashion god [Music] It was in my third 24-hour fast on this Decision and by the way I'm not like a Fasting person but I felt like this was Such a big decision I wanted to do Everything I could and so I fasted all Day hadn't felt like I heard anything

From God and I was taking my evening Shower got out of the shower and felt Like maybe I'm supposed to do it and my Wife Megan says to me I've kind of known All along that you're supposed to take This job and I haven't wanted to tell You because I don't want you to take This job but God almost chastised me Over the last half hour and told me that I need to tell you what I've known all Along so take the job what were you Feeling at that moment Uh still a little bit like I didn't want To take the job but a sense of peace and Knowing that my wife was with me Obviously it helps to be United and at Some point it was an act of obedience to Just say all right we will step out of The boat and do this [Music] The experience has been incredible I've Seen the fruit of the decision it would Be Selling something untrue to say it's Been you know this tide of Joy the Entire way through I think something We've experienced is that obedience in The Christian walk sometimes comes with Pain and sometimes you know the tears we Cried when making the decision haven't Been the last tears they're kind of Adjusting to a different lifestyle Adjusting to a different income level Comes with its challenges and with its

Struggles but I don't think either of us Regrets it So many people make decisions in their Life regarding how much money they can Make and so taking that kind of off the Table like drawing a line somewhere Modestly where that ceases to be the Primary criteria for decision making Creates a freedom to follow God's call In a very powerful way and again what I Like about John and Greg's story is John Felt called to To the non-profit space Greg still felt Called into the marketplace and he Didn't limit his income potential yeah We kind of lost track of Greg there but If you remember Todd offered both of Them a job and John Felt like it was something he was Supposed to do but Greg Didn't Greg wanted to continue on with his Career path so I'm really torn during This season because I see the Holy Spirit working powerfully in John and Megan's life Greg graduates and gets a Job at this really promising Healthcare Technology startup in Nashville like I Felt like I was sort of selling out a Bit uh because we had just written this Manuscript that called for significant Changes and how I thought about and Behaved with respect to wealth and and Money and then I was going to go run up

The corporate ladder you know I was Going to professionally at least pursue The exact same path that I had thought About beforehand and it felt a bit false A bit selfish a bit shallow but engaged In some research on the Theology of work Really reading a few different books or Resources about what God thinks about Work and really came away convinced that God values work no matter even if you're Not a minister and that I can accomplish His purposes working for a health care Company in Nashville just like John and Working for a Ministry in Orlando Greg Gets the job and is part of the job Offer he acquires some equity in the Company which by the way was his plan All along build equity build wealth I Joined the company and six weeks later We get acquired by Cardinal Health which Is a huge Healthcare conglomerate in Ohio for over 400 million dollars Suddenly Greg's Equity position is worth A lot of money that was mind-blowing it Was clearly what it revealed to me is That uh I wasn't being left out of the Story Greg's thinking this is crazy this Must be God he must be working in my Story just like John's and so him and His wife have to decide what are we Going to do with this windfall I how Much of this money should we give away What God had taught us is that first Everything belongs to him therefore this

Question I'd been asking my whole life How much do I need to give was the wrong Question instead I should have been Asking how much do I really need to keep Since it's all gods anyway so I'll Provide for my family I'll save Responsibly for the future but then Everything but beyond that should be Given away so they talked about it and Decided The number that felt right was giving 20 Of the gross away so before paying any Taxes 20 off the top And this wasn't an easy decision so I Came out of graduate school with 150 000 In cumulative grad school debt because My wife also went to grad school at a Private school so at the same time we're Saving up for a down payment on the House we have a two-year-old son now my Wife's expecting another kid on the way So we need to start thinking about College savings another is when we're House shopping and the Nashville real Estate market right now is is hot and so We realized that for us to buy a home Within a reasonable commuting distance For me which was our number one criteria We were not going to be able to obtain The type of house that we really wanted For our family in terms of size features Niceness area Etc And there were plenty of times as we

Were going around to houses with our Agent just saying no no no that my wife And I would look at each other and say Can't we just give a little less money Away Or or even better we'll give it later Which I think is even more dangerous oh Also Greg was shopping for a new car What was your favorite card to look at At that moment uh Acura uh SUVs the MDX Yeah because because clearly a BMW or Mercedes is Unholy but an accurate but An Acura is fine and the Holy Spirit Just really convicts me is like you do Not need a car like that Um so suffice it to say now I drive my Grandmother's 2002 Mercury Grand Marquis They gave some of the money to the Church they had been attending in Boston While in school they gave some to the Missions fund for the new church they Were involved in in Nashville and they Even wrote checks to individuals they Knew just needed money but one of the Coolest parts of the story I thought was That they decided to start saving for an Adoption did you feel the joy like that Was the you you wanted to to have those Stories you know I'd been tied in my Whole professional career and never got Any Joy from that because I now in Retrospect I know it's because I brought The wrong attitude to that decision our Church here in Nashville does this big

December fundraise for these three International missions groups that the Church supports just a few weeks ago They showed video of the impact that our Funds are having they showed like the Foundation being laid for this school in Africa and for a house for this Missionary who we support best to Commute 90 minutes each way so two and a Half three hours a day Round trip that you get to save them That we get to save them now and I like Got emotional watching that video uh Which surprised me actually because I'm Not a crier I guess until now I guess Until I'm really engaged in God's Purposes for the first time and what was Cool is I felt useful that was probably The best thing about it and I think that I've realized that's sort of the Genesis Of the joy just like you sort of you Know I feel really good after a hard Workout or A Hard Day's Work I feel like Now that I'm like actively contributing To God's Kingdom in my own little way But it's still very meaningful to me Personally and it's I think what drives The the joy that I've now been able to Experience [Music] You know it was kind of a fluke that John and Greg met decided to take this Class decided to write this paper but as A result both their lives changed

Dramatically and so I asked them Imagine you hadn't written this paper What would life be like so I'm probably Overseas saving over ten thousand Dollars a month in cash and building a Life for myself and I'm probably pretty Happy and satisfied in that as well and I think the subtle tragedy That would come is that I would be Creating a life of the rich fool for Myself without knowing it and and you Know I probably would have lived my Whole life to build bigger barns for Myself and and that is not the most Satisfying life that one could live For me I'd be living In a fancier house driving a nicer car Cutting my 10 tithe check every week and I would probably think I was happy But It's almost like I wouldn't have the Capacity to experience the things that I Have experienced as a result of living Out this message so I wouldn't even know What I was missing I think of Luke 18 the Rich Young Ruler Where this man comes up to Jesus says Teacher what must I do to enter the Kingdom of Heaven I've kept all of God's Commands referring to the Ten Commandments and Jesus says sell all of Your possessions and come follow me and Scripture says that the man walks away Very sad and I feel like I would have

Gotten to the end of my life have been Ostensibly obedient quote unquote but Totally missed out on the exciting ride That God had planned for me because I Never had the courage to go follow him John and Greg turned their paper into a Book called God and money how we Discovered true riches at Harvard Business School you could find it Anywhere books are sold like Amazon This podcast was produced by the Bible Project edited by myself Jonathan Collins special thanks to Dan gummel for Helping me record the interviews out in Nashville all the music on this episode Is by a band called gray flood check Them out this was an experimental Episode for us if you liked it and want Us to tell more stories like this let us Know you can say hi to us on Facebook join the Bible project We're on Twitter at join Bible proge and You can email us support at We believe the Bible is one unified Story that leads to Jesus and has Profound wisdom for the modern world you Can watch videos that we make that Explore biblical themes and also break Down the literary design of biblical Books they're on our YouTube channel the Bible project or on our Website join the Foreign

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