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What if I Could Win the Lottery, MMM 10-18-2010


Monday Morning Message, October 18, 2010

Recently, my friend Jeff Cave of Merrill Lynch sent me a note about a study being done to analyze what happens to those people who believe their futures are assured and their dreams have come true by winning the lottery.  It will be interesting to read the actual report when done but we have all heard about the disasters that many “winners” have experienced when winning millions.  Even faster than the money itself appearing are the requests from family and “friends” about how the winners should spend their money!  Without the benefit of the study I will be shocked if we find the money hasn’t brought more negative impact than positive. 

We were chosen to work with a significant lottery winner several years ago who won $20,000,000.  There were many reasons that we found out after the beauty contest was over why we were chosen, but the two most significant to me was that we approached the client as if he had never received a dime.  When we calculated his actual tax bill, it was determined that our estimate was the only one that was correct.  When we analyzed what he could do with the money, we included giving and charity as part of the equation and we also indicated that a budget would be necessary if he wanted to be successful. 

This was not an accident as some of our wealthy clients came from very unique families and businesses and they had given me a pattern that I could not forget.  Couple that with my own desire to use the Biblical principles from God’s Word to guide my advice, and certain themes will be familiar:
1. God has called each of us to be somewhere and to do something unique with our lives… don’t let money change that!
2. Giving people are happier than those who hoard it all for themselves.
3. Giving too much to the wrong people too soon will almost always ruin them!  That especially includes family.  It for sure will ruin friendships.
4. To whom God blesses abundantly, much is expected and lottery winners and heirs of great wealth often fail to learn about God’s call on their life since the money has become their comfort zone. 
5. If you leave your job, make certain to replace it with volunteer service or something meaningful other than recreation 24/7.
I mentioned that I was fortunate to have clients who lived this out for me.  As I ran into one of those couples last Sunday in the most unlikely BBQ joint in Texas, Coopers of Llano, TX, I was reminded of how this couple could have never worked a day in their lives and lived off of trust funds and inheritances.  Happily, they spend countless hours in committees, hospital fund raisers, schools both secondary and colleges, art museums, alma maters, and their place of worship.  Yes, and their jobs as well!  They have never let their identities be defined by their net worth. 

I Timothy 6:10 (RSV) “For the love of money is the root of all evils: it is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith & pierced their hearts with many pangs.” 

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