Thursday, June 17, 2010

the dilemma

(this dilemma has really been created by what i've written in several of the latest posts. you can read sort of a summary of our financial plan HERE and then my last post on what i think money is for HERE. you should really read that to catch up.) Thanks in advance for taking time to read this dilemma below...

so here's my dilemma.
(first, a preface) - I DON'T NEED ANY MONEY. seriously. there is not an ounce of desire in me to be "rich" and have a lot of money to spend on myself. comforts, pleasures, etc...

i am completely content to sleep on the ground somewhere eating rice with nothing. just me, my wife, and God. no transportation, no furniture... whatever. i'm content.

on the flip side - I AM ON TRACK TO HAVE A TON OF MONEY. and really i'm already rich just because i'm an American. then even by American standards i'm probably rich just from following Dave's plan. (You can read about our journey through that plan HERE and HERE.) this is hard to believe because our income isn't as high as most, but Dave says we're in the top 3% of Americans as far as our net worth right now. crazy. (again, no credit to me, i'm just thankful God led us into this plan.)

but the reason we're on track to have so much money is because we are putting most of it somewhere! getting out of debt, then building the emergency fund, & now we're putting a ton into retirement & eventually we'll be investing a lot more!
So, as I wrote in the last post, just in retirement we're on track to have $13 million at 65, and then with investments who knows how much more it will be?

Bottom Line = i want to give most of my money away (like i wrote HERE). now and/or later.

***i have learned (from Dave & now experience) that money is most powerful when it is focused. that pushes me into the dilemma:
-  i feel like i could give away most of my money now and focus it all toward the Kingdom - the poor, missions, etc... and do a lot of good! it would be powerful!
-  Or i feel like i could focus a majority of my money toward retirement accounts, and investments and maybe end up with $30 million + investments...

Some days i want to ABANDON THE PLAN! (don't tell Dave.) not abandon it so i can buy stuff, but so i can give away all my money. maybe 70% or 80%? + everything in the emergency fund, etc...

but then other days i think it almost might be better to stop giving now, put 70% - 80% into these long term investments and then be able to give $100 million at 65!

*i have a real ongoing dilemma between these scenarios:
1 - i did some really rough estimating and let's say i could give $1.6 million over the next 40 years of my life. that would be very "sacrificial" giving. i would be happy. i would have no retirement... but i'd be ok with that & content. i think it would do a lot of good.

2 - OR if i gave very little now... like 10% or something... i could maybe have $30 million in 40 years to give away. that's a lot more for sure. that seems like it would be way better for the Kingdom, but that's not as much where my heart's at.

Sometimes it feels like i need to pick one of those 2 lanes and run with it.

3 - OR... i could keep up what i'm doing now. which is focused on giving AND the plan (which makes money less powerful because of less focus). maybe i could give away as much as i can along the way but we'd still have $13 million + investments in 40 years. then i could give all of that away. 

pretty awesome chunk to give away. way more than the $1.6 million i could give away in #1, but a lot less than in #2.
*AM I BEING TO RIDICULOUS AND RADICAL ABOUT THIS? maybe i should just live comfortably, have some fun, give some, save some like in #3 and be done with this whole dilemma?

So, i am saying openly that i don't know what to think about all this. my head and heart spin round and round.
the business side of me knows $30 million would be the "best" and i could do a lot of awesome stuff for God's Kingdom with that.
the raw and passionate side of me knows what giving thousands right now could do! the lives it could help save TODAY (physically and spiritually). i have a big problem with this many days. knowing i have the money that could SAVE LIVES, but i'm putting it into a ROTH IRA... ooohhh... that feels revolutionary.

Ultimately i know all the money is going to the same place. it's just a matter of when and how much.

And then my head and heart spin round and round more and more because i know that God doesn't NEED my money. He's gonna do what He wants to do know matter what. What He really wants is my heart. well, He has that... and that makes me want to give away all my money now!
& then the business side of me says...

and round and round i go much like this post has been. i probably haven't made much sense and i've given myself a headache like i do every day as i wrestle with this.

i'll be honest with all of you. i can't think of anything else i wrestle with more than this. this keeps me awake at night and bothers me deep in my soul. i really don't know what God would want me to do. i ask Him for wisdom & i'm just not sure.

**i think there are some principles in Scripture and a lot of wisdom in godly people out there that could help me. i've been searching for the principles in Scripture (big time). [although that's when i want to empty my emergency fund and give away every penny when i read what God has to say...]

i know i probably just sound crazy to all of you and you think i'm a few bricks short...
but i would really really love to hear from YOU! what am i missing? is my thinking all jacked up? what Biblical principle could you share with me to help? did this post even make sense? what would you do in my situation.
help. before my brain and heart explode from this ongoing wrestling match!


Son of Emery said...


First of all as I have said before you're visioneering and grasp of the mind of heaven is a breath of fresh air in an often stale and saltless world. thank you for your example in my life and the lives of those around you.

Second, I know you will do the right thing with your money because you've already made up your mind to do it. So I am not overly worried. Again, this is a welcomed encouragement in my sometimes hesitant life.

Third, as much as I hate to say it, something Pastor Schettler said over and over... there are two reasons for money: to live and to give. I know you trust God to take care of your needs. That is plainly obvious. I know you're generosity and it makes makes Bill Gates look like a tight wad.

So here is my suggestion. You have budgeted for all of your spending as you have said. I am assuming "giving/gifts/charity" is one of your line items. Before you can start giving large sums of money away you need to be free to do so, which I know you're working on. So during this time where you're paying of mortgages, building a emergency fund, saving for kids college, etc, give as much as you can without taking away from the more pressing issues (Dave's plan).

We all know that giving to charity is exciting and a blessing. So keep on giving to compassion / living water, etc, but also be saving additional funds for a charity you're not yet aware of and be praying that God would make it plainly obvious to you. Who knows maybe a family member or a friend is going to need some serious help later on.

So while your saving now and building up your funds, be gazelle like in your giving to charity, but also in your saving to give to charity and be praying that God direct you.

#1 is not an option. It doesn't make sense. I like option 2 or 3, but since your hearts not in option 2 it leave option 3. Focus on what your doing now, giving and the dave plan, and you will be able to care for your family, for other loved ones in the future, and for yourself. And then once you kick the proverbial bucket you will leave behind you a great sum which you can delegate as you see fit. And who knows, the economy could literally crash and your 13 million could be worth $2.00 in 30 years. Or the economy could recover and you might find other ways to increase your assets as you get older.

I think option 3 is the most balanced and the most livable. In the end you will make the right decision because I know your heart is in the right place.

Scott Clifton said...

Dave's plan is great, but he doesn't give us verses to go by as to how to "live like no one else", instead it gives us the opportunity to do what we want after we have the self control and diligence to think logically and rationally about money. And, for that reason, I don't necessarily agree with him 100%. We're not looking to live like no one else. We're looking to live faithfully to how God has called us. The first real requirement that I see from God about us in regard to money is our heart, knowing that God is in control and that he deserves everything that we have. I know that you're heart isn't in the wrong place, so we move on to #2 requirement, 1 Cor. 4:12, "Moreover it is required in stewards, that a man be found faithful." Faithful meaning that you are being responsible with all resources you've been given, regardless of how much we have, even in little things, and with another's possessions. If we are doing this then faithful is sure to bring contentment. I think these other two verses are critical in understanding how to be faithful: Prov. 22:7, "just as the rich rule the poor, so the borrower is servant to the lender." And Prov. 21:5, "Steady plodding brings prosperity." My philosophy of debt pulled from the verse is that its not helpful and is binding you in a contract to people/things, etc. Only when an investment with debt gives equity is it reasonable to assume the debt is valuable to you and you are being a faithful steward.

Honestly, I believe if you keep these things in mind and with any financial decision (or any other aspect of life) run these verses through your brain to evaluate based on the knowledge that you have. You are correct in that God can do what He wants...and He will, a lot of the process is more us aligning with His will...which is our obedience.

I agree with Scottie, #3. Continue to listen the Holy Spirit's urging and be available for giving to causes above your 10% when God puts it on your heart but paying off all debt is also being faithful and a good steward. Giving away all your money now I don't believe would be responsible as you are not taking into account your family's future or the opportunity to give more later.

I also have moments of wanting to give away/use what I have been able to save. But I also plan to start looking for opportunities to have investments that make money for themselves and have a monthly flow of profit that I can give to causes. How awesome would that be!?! I dream of having resources that allow me to give abundantly and also be free to pack up and follow God's call without the burden of owing money to another person.

patrick mitchell said...

Scott & Scottie... my 2 fav peeps named Scott that i know! :)

you guys are awesome. thanks for these. i read them write when you guys wrote them, just haven't had time to respond.

thanks to everyone else who responded to me privately. i'll be posting some follow up at some point.

Scott & Scottie - thanks for sharing your thoughts with me they were def. helpful. i look forward to a day when we can have talks like this over a cup of coffee or somewhere closer than Texas & NY. :)