Thursday, December 27, 2012

Crown Financial Ministry: “Who Deserves Credit for Your Success?”

We live in a culture where capitalist values are deeply entrenched.  Last summer, President Obama made a campaign speech that got a lot of attention because of what some perceived to be a swipe against business people.  The president said:

There are a lot of wealthy, successful Americans who agree with me because they want to give something back.  If you were successful, somebody along the line gave you some help.  There was a great teacher somewhere in your life.  Somebody helped to create this unbelievable American system that we have that allowed you to thrive.  Somebody invested in roads and bridges.  If you’ve got a business, you didn’t build that.  Someone else made that happen.

The last two sentences of that part of the speech were taken out of context and used to justify the assertion that President Obama is anti-business.  Political hyperbole aside, our president would be a huge hypocrite if he were actually a communist out to kill capitalism.  He currently has a net worth of over $10 million.  Most of that was earned as an author of two best-selling books.  The free market system--and our intellectual property laws--enabled President Obama to amass that kind of fortune. 

Prior to hitting it big as an author and being elected to national office, the Obama family was primarily supported by the impressive salary earned by his wife, Michelle.  She practiced law for several years at a preeminent law firm that specialized in affluent clients.  She then moved to the non-profit sector while also serving on the board of a public corporation.  These activities hardly evidence an embrace of Marxism.  This type of well-compensated work in the private sector helped both Obamas service their considerable student loan debt.

Regardless of your own view of President Obama’s views on capitalism, the brouhaha last summer over the quote in question led to an interesting policy debate across the country.  Are business people solely responsible for their successes?  Does it take a village?  Or is the truth somewhere in between?

From a Christian perspective, in my opinion, that debate missed the mark a bit.  I firmly believe that God is responsible for all blessings—and that includes the economic ones. 

Our family has been graced with material resources to meet our basic needs and cover many of our desires.  Certainly, my husband and I worked very hard to secure the vast majority of those material resources.  We worked hard to get good grades in school, to secure jobs and to be promoted in those jobs.  Nonetheless, my husband and I understand that we are not fully responsible for our own good fortune.  We thank and give praise to God for each thing that he has given us. 

We also take it seriously that we are given these things not simply to make our lives more pleasant and cushy, but to be a blessing to others in turn.  We are given things to share.  God’s generous bounty is not an excuse to get a swelled head and think we are more deserving or special than the next folks.  We realized that we’ve been given opportunities that most people on this planet have not.  It is our responsibility to make good on that.  But clearly, we fall short of the mark.  Nonetheless, that does not diminish our responsibility or give us an excuse to stop trying.

Expressing a similar viewpoint, I serendipitously came across the Crown Ministries’ “MoneyWise” radio show on October, 6, 2012.  The topic of the program that day was “Who Gets the Credit?”  The hosts Howard Dayton and Steve Moore delved into the question “Who deserves the credit for your success?”  You can hear their exploration of that question if you navigate to the October 6, 2012 show at the following website:  They have well-articulated an answer to that question.  It provides a lot of food for thought.

It is interesting because their answer does not sound that different to me from what President Obama said in his July campaign speech.  But I doubt anyone would say that Mr. Dayton or Mr. Moore is a Marxist.  In fact, in that same October 6, 2012 radio show, they expressed strong support of “free market capitalism” as the best economic system if Christ is the center of an entrepreneur’s motivations.  They emphasized that “if” part very strongly.


Matthew 6:25-26
“If you decide for God, living a life of God-worship, it follows that you don’t fuss about what’s on the table at mealtimes or whether the clothes in your closet are in fashion. There is far more to your life than the food you put in your stomach, more to your outer appearance than the clothes you hang on your body. Look at the birds, free and unfettered, not tied down to a job description, careless in the care of God. And you count far more to him than birds.”



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