Whatever You Do, Don’t Manage Your Money Like Many Professional Athletes

Photo by yoyo du 33

Photo by yoyo du 33

From Riches To Rags

Broke. Tapped Out.

Would it surprise you to know that some of the greatest athletes of the last 40+ years are now poorer than dirt?

I’m talking athletes like Mike Tyson, Johnny Unitas, Latrell Sprewell, Dorothy Hamill, Scottie Pippen, Evander Holyfield, and Michael Vick.

All of these famous, well accomplished athletes have made millions upon millions of dollars in their careers, and what do they have to show for it? Not a whole heck of a lot.

On a percentage basis, professional athletes are the WORST money managers.

I recently read the following statistics when it comes to professional athletes and money: Around 78% of NFL players and 60% of NBA players go broke within five years of leaving the field, according to a Sports Illustrated estimate made in 2009 (Source: UK Guardian).

Just look at the life of professional boxer Mike Tyson.

At the height of his career, here’s what Mike was able to accomplish. He was the undisputed heavyweight boxing champion of the world. He was the youngest man to ever win the WBC, WBA and IBF Heavyweight Titles. Finally, he was the first man to win 12 of his first 19 fights in the first round by KO. His estimated lifetime earnings range from $300-400 million.

Yes, you read that correctly, $300-400 million!

But then, the wheels came off and his life fell apart. Mike Tyson’s story reads like the Great American Tragedy: domestic violence, bad press interviews, the death of his father-figure trainer, a nasty divorce, a federal rape charge, felony possession of drugs, a DUI, and a bloody ear incident.

And, at one point after this whole mess, Tyson was worth less than $700. Now, how in the world do you go from $300 million all the way down to less than $700?

3 Ways To Go Broke Quickly As A Professional Athlete

When you investigate the lives of professional athletes who have gone from millions to bankruptcy, you can definitely see a pattern that led them down a bad financial path. If I had to pick three areas that led these athletes in the wrong direction, then here are the three I would list:

  1. Fast Living. Sex, drugs, and rock-n-roll. If you want to make millions of dollars and lose it all, then simply live fast and loose. In this way, you can lose your career faster, go to court, land your butt in jail, get divorced, and then pay millions in alimony and child support. Yeah, that’s pretty easy to do.
  2. Toy Gathering. Expensive luxury cars. Multi-million dollar homes. Massive yachts. These are the high dollar items that get many athletes in trouble. But, this is what happens though when young athletes go from financially poor to massively wealthy as soon as they sign on the dotted line of an incredible contract deal. They don’t know how to handle that kind of wealth. So, they run out and go on spending sprees. Plus, they end up spending more than they actually make on stuff that will sharply go down in value within a few short years.
  3. High Risk Investments. Getting investment advice from those people closest to you (family and friends) is always a bad idea. But, when you look at these riches-to-rags athletes, this is definitely what you observe – rich people taking investment advice from other people around them who are just plain money hungry. Bad restaurant deals are pretty typical with athletes. The restaurant business is a brutal industry and not a wise place to invest large sums of money.

Questions: Ok, so you’re not a wealthy athlete, but are you making some of the same mistakes as these athletes? Are you living a questionable lifestyle that will damage your finances at some point in the future? Are you buying a bunch of stuff that is dropping like a rock in value? Are you making any risky investments that will come back to bite you in a few years? What decisions do you need to make, today, in order to put yourself in a better financial position?






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4 Ways To Reignite Your Passion Not Only For Your Spouse But For God As Well

Photo by danielmoyle

Photo by danielmoyle

Are You In The Doghouse?

Valentine’s Day and dog houses. For guys, they kind of go together.

This is the day when men are practically required to step up to the plate and hit a home run on this special day of love, or we end up in the dog house, right? Maybe some of you men reading this post right now were in the doghouse over the weekend.

A couple of weeks ago, I decided to be extremely purposeful for this Valentine’s Day. I placed the order for the roses in advance. I made the dinner reservations ahead of time. I discussed childcare options with my wife. I wanted my wife to see that I took this day of love seriously. I wanted to demonstrate thoughtfulness and care. I wanted there to be no doubt that I love her.

So, since we just passed the Valentine’s Day holiday last week, I thought I’d share five thoughts I had over the weekend about marriage relationships and the lessons we can learn to apply to not only our earthly relationships, but also lessons that we can apply to our relationship with God.

4 Ways To Reignite Your Passion

1. Show up more. When I was dating my wife, we both had demanding responsibilities and schedules (and still do!). Because we loved and cared for each other, we were always planning our next opportunity to get together for dinner, a movie, or other event. We wanted to hang out. We wanted to spend time together. But, then you get married, life happens, and if you aren’t careful, you end up spending less time with each other. You must be purposeful in spending time alone on a very regular basis to renew and strengthen your relationship.

The same is true with our relationship with God. When we first accept Christ as Savior, we’re hungry to spend quiet time with Him. We can’t wait to be in church for every opportunity to gather with God’s people. But then, as we grow older in our faith, we find excuses to stay away from both our quiet time and from church. We’re just not in God’s presence as often, and the sad thing is that we don’t even really seem to care. We take God for granted. You must be purposeful and resolute in your relationship with God. If you have a challenging schedule, then you need to get God back on your schedule. As the saying goes, on paper, on purpose. Plan your day so that you give yourself enough time in the morning for some quiet time with the Father. Make church a priority. Don’t let other people, circumstances, sports, or other earthly pursuits dictate whether you will be in church each Sunday.

2. Talk more. A natural outgrowth of spending more time together with your spouse should be communication. When you started dating, you guys probably talked all the time. Over time, though, maybe you ran out of stuff to talk about. Sometimes, the conversation flows naturally. At other times, you may need to work at it, but keep on talking no matter what. Treat your spouse as your best friend and share not only your daily activities, but also your hopes, your fears, your very life with them.

God wants to converse with us. He speaks to us through His written Word. We speak to Him through the vehicle of prayer. We must set aside time in our busy day to read God’s Word and pray. My own personal recommendation would be to do it early in the morning before your day gets cluttered and your mind gets scattered. Again, we must make our conversation with God purposeful, otherwise our busy lives will quickly crowd Him out.

3. Give more. I believe the secret to a successful marriage is sacrificial, unselfish giving. When we purposefully plan and give our spouses the very best of our time, energy, and resources, then we end up appreciating each other more. Sacrifice would seem to be a dirty word in this culture. Everybody wants what they want, when they want it, and don’t even bother asking me to give any more than I’m already giving you. I believe this act of giving, though, is the key to success in any relationship. Give, and then be willing to give some more.

God wants us to give back to Him. He wants the “firstfruits” of our life: the very best of our time, talents, and money. But, what do we usually offer back to Him? I bet most of the it’s probably our leftovers. We “tip” Him financially by throwing a few bucks in the offering plate. We make it to church every other week. We don’t read our Bible or pray consistently. We don’t use our God-given talents to further the Kingdom of God, but we waste them on earthly pursuits. How do you think that makes God feel? Are we truly demonstrating that we love God with everything we have? I seriously doubt it.

4. Submit more. Submission is another one of those bad words were supposed to ignore in our modern culture. An attitude of submission, though, is critical for success in any relationship. When I speak of submission, I’m not talking about becoming a doormat and allowing yourself to be abused. Submission is simply recognizing the needs of the other person and putting their needs and desires above your own. A woman’s primary need is love and affection. A man’s primary need is respect. The Bible says in Ephesians 5:21-25, “ … submitting to one another in the fear of Christ. Wives, submit to your own husbands as to the Lord, for the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church. He is the Savior of the body. Now as the church submits to Christ, so wives are to submit to their husbands in everything. Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave Himself for her.” I’m not sure why we have made this issue so complicated in our (supposedly) Christian marriages.

In our relationship with Almighty God, He wants our complete submission. He wants us to be completely surrendered to Him and His desires. Once we have entered into a relationship with Christ, we should be completely submitted to Him. Our lives are no longer about living a selfish, self-absorbed lifestyle. Our lives should be about accomplishing His mission through us – advancing the Kingdom of God.

Questions: How’s your passion for your spouse? Are you showing up, talking, giving, and submitting? And how about your relationship with God? Are you really demonstrating a passionate love for Him as well? Do you think He will say to you one day “Well done, thou good and faithful servant?”






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Do You Struggle With Your Church Worship Experience? I’ve Got The Secret Sauce To Turn It Around

Photo by Ani's Photography

Photo by Ani’s Photography

Mass Confusion On Worship

I believe Christianity today is severely confused on the true meaning of worshiping God, and this true meaning has been really distorted in recent years.

My observation over the last 20 years as a church worship leader has been that perhaps our Christian Contemporary Music (CCM) culture has made worship out to be some warm, fuzzy, existential, out-of-body experience. If you don’t have that experience, then you haven’t really worshiped! You could maybe compare it to chasing the high feeling from a drug.

But, nowhere in Scripture do I see that worship is about me, my personal feelings, or my experience. Worship is about God. Worship was created by Him, for Him, and for Him alone.

Worship is more than just a one-day-a-week experience as well. It should be part of the daily lifestyle of a mature believer.

Definitions

Let’s get a little technical and dig into what the worship terminology really means.

The actual definition of the word “worship” is somewhat vague at best. The Bible never clearly defines the word.

Here’s how the Free Dictionary defines it:

wor·ship (wûr′shĭp)

as a noun:
1. The reverent love and devotion accorded a deity, an idol, or a sacred object.
2. The ceremonies, prayers, or other religious forms by which this love is expressed.
3. Ardent devotion; adoration.

as a verb: (wor·shiped or wor·shipped, wor·ship·ing or wor·ship·ping, wor·ships)
1. To honor and love as a deity.
2. To regard with ardent or adoring esteem or devotion.
3. To participate in religious rites of worship.
4. To perform an act of worship.

There are two primary forms of worship: public, corporate worship and private, individual worship. In a wonderful web article at www.gotquestions.org, S. Michael Houdmann addresses these two parts of Christian worship:

Question: “What is the meaning of Christian worship?”

Answer: The meaning of the New Testament Greek word most often translated “worship” (proskuneo) is “to fall down before” or “bow down before.” Worship is a state (an attitude) of spirit. Since it’s an internal, individual action, it could/should be done most of the time (or all the time) in our lives, regardless of place or situation (John 4:21-24). Therefore, Christians worship all the time, seven days a week. When Christians formally gather together in worship, still the emphasis should be on individually worshiping the Lord. Even in a congregation, participants need to be aware that they are worshiping God fully on an individual basis …

… Since external actions are unimportant in Christian worship, there is no rule regarding whether we should sit, stand, fall down, be quiet, or sing praises loudly while in corporate worship. These things should be decided based on the nature of the congregation. The most important thing is that we worship God in spirit (in our hearts) and in truth (in our minds).

The Secret Sauce Of Christian Worship

When we are able to get our individual, private worship in alignment with God’s Word, then we open the door of possibility for an amazing corporate church worship experience.

Here are some of my thoughts on what can make a better church worship experience for all of us.

First, acknowledge that worship is not for us, it is for God. The very definition of the word centers on giving God honor, love, and adoration. Worship is not about us getting to sing our most favorite K-LOVE worship songs and in the process receiving some kind of warm, tingly feeling. Worship is an action. Worship is about giving to God, not receiving from God.

Second, understand that worship should be a solely individual, 7-days-a-week, every minute of every day, type of experience. Then, on the first day of the week (Sunday), the local Body of Christ should gather to worship individually, but all together in the same location.

Third, recognize that worship can take place through a variety of means at anyplace and at anytime. The Apostle Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians 10:31, “So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.” Paul also states in Romans 12:1, “Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship.” According to God’s Word, I can worship Him through eating a steak dinner, kneeling on the floor in prayer, cleaning a bathroom, playing a musical instrument, doing my job in the workplace, writing this blog post, or singing in the choir. If our attitudes, if our hearts and minds, if our physical bodies are focused on God in all that we do, then these are acts of worship as well. Live a lifestyle that centers on worshiping God every minute of every day.

Fourth, accept that if you struggle in your corporate worship on Sundays, then your other six-days-a-week, individual, private worship must be lacking. The most incredible corporate worship experiences I’ve ever encountered have been when I have worshiped with other mature, Christian leaders. And why would that be? Because, they already have a strong, daily attitude of worship. Our Sunday services lack passionate worship because the individual church members are lacking passionate personal worship the other six days of the week.

Fifth, admit that if you’re struggling in your daily, personal worship, then you may have unconfessed sin in your life. Psalm 66:18 says, “If I regard iniquity (sin) in my heart, the Lord will not hear me.” Perform heart surgery and see if you have any sin in your life that needs to be confessed and forsaken.

Questions: Are you missing the “secret sauce” in your own corporate church worship? If so, what do you need to do to achieve a deeper level of worship of Almighty God?






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How To Craft A Christian Personal Financial Theology

Photo by UnlockingTheBible

Photo by UnlockingTheBible

Let’s Review

In my last post Do You Have A Philosophy Or A Theology When It Comes To Personal Finances?, we explored four separate money beliefs that I believe many Christians operate their financial lives through one of these four belief systems:

  • Money Belief #1: Money is worldly and a necessary evil to survive. Let’s not discuss it.
  • Money Belief #2: Money is a taboo topic for the church world, but I recognize that money is addressed in Scripture.
  • Money Belief #3: I know what God’s Word says about money. I like my money system better. Now, leave me alone!
  • Money Belief #4: I recognize that I am God’s financial manager. I will follow His instructions.

Unfortunately, I believe many of us as Christians have never connected the dots between the whole money issue being addressed throughout the pages of Scripture and our role as money managers for God. The universal church has done a poor job of teaching and preaching what God has taught us about money through His Word.

In my last post, we also looked at the definitions of “Philosopy” and “Theology.” In simple terms, a philosophy is a life theory invented by man. Man’s theories are flawed and imperfect. A theology is a system of belief based on Scripture. If we believe that God’s Word is holy and without error, then a theological system of belief is flawless and perfect.

I believe Christians today are operating under financial beliefs invented by man, not a system of belief founded upon the Word of God.

Crafting A Christian Personal Finance Theology

Now is a great time for Christians to return to God’s ways about money. We live in a world that is severely confused on how to handle money at any level whether it’s personal finances, business finances, or government finances. This is why we’re living through such difficult financial times in recent years.

So, as Christians, how do we put together a belief system that is completely based on God’s Word? How do we craft a truly Christian personal finance theology?

Here are my thoughts on how to develop a Biblical theology of money:

  1. Be a regular reader of God’s Word. Shocking, I know. That’s rocket science right there! Seriously though, if you want to know what God has to say about money, you need to be reading through your Bible consistently. Don’t just camp out on a single book of the Bible. Don’t just read the New Testament or only the Old Testament. God’s financial belief system is sprinkled throughout the entire Biblical narrative. You can’t just read the book of Proverbs and nail down your theology of money, although that’s a great place to start.
  2. Attend a Crown Financial Bible Study and Financial Peace University. When people ask me the difference between these two small group studies, this is my response: Crown Financial is more of a true Bible study that is heavy on Scripture and truth. Financial Peace University is a practical, step-by-step financial plan based upon Biblical principles. I have done both, and I highly recommend both for a solid foundation in developing a theology of money.
  3. Google it! Again, I’m sure this is all rocket science that never even occurred to you. Type in the search bar “Bible verses about money” and you will receive 3,350,000 results! I’m looking at the search list, and I’m seeing some great pages to open up and explore.
  4. Read blogs that address personal finances from a Biblical perspective. There are many great Christian personal finance blogs out there, today. Here’s a list of the ones I’m most familiar with:
  5. Be sure to focus on these main areas in developing a Biblical theology: giving, tithing, saving, spending, debt, investing, business, contentment, planning, and stewardship. Check out this great article that addresses these issues and more: 250 Bible Verses about Money.

Questions: Have you ever gone through the process of developing a solid, Biblical theology on money? What other steps have you taken in developing your theology on personal finances?






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