Wealth gained quickly will dwindle away,
but the one who gathers it little by little will become rich.
I remember watching a 20/20 or 60 minutes special about Lottery winners. I can’t remember which one it was, but I remember the content of the show. The gist of the show was that there were a large number of Lottery winners who were just as broke as they were when they won the lump sum. It was amazing to hear all the different ways that people had blown their money. Of course, my wife and I were sitting there completely shocked. We knew that we would do a much better job handling the instant wealth than these people had done.
Some had blown it on drugs, others on houses they still couldn’t afford and others on ridiculous cars and trips. There were some that got taken advantage of. Almost all of them discovered family and friends they didn’t know they had. There are counselors and groups that actually tries to come alongside some of these winners to help them spend their money wisely. Some of them helped. But even in that group there was one lawyer who was taking advantage of the gullible people who had more money than they knew what to do with.
It’s amazing in a depressing sort of way. And yet, this isn’t something that is new to our culture. This problem one that has been around for thousands of years. Wealth gained quickly will dwindle away, but the one who gathers it little by little will become rich. Notice the proverb doesn’t just speak of lottery winners. It’s not specific. It covers all areas where one might gain wealth quickly. The stock market, real estate, get rich schemes… It doesn’t seem to matter where the instant wealth comes from.
What matters is how you acquire the wealth. If you want to get rich, you need to be able to gather it a little at a time. This speaks of discipline and patience. Once you gather a hundred dollars and learn how to keep it, then you’re ready to save up two hundred dollars. Then when you’ve been faithful with that, you’re ready to have four hundred.
By the way neither of these are promises (just as the book of Proverbs is not a book of promises). Instead, they are observations of the way things generally work. It’s easy in our culture to see people as being instantly successful. And in a few rare cases that may be true. But, in large part, the people who look to be an overnight success have actually been gathering little by little. The singer who all of a sudden gets a recording contract has actually been working at the craft for years and years. The business man whose business starts to explode has actually been laying the groundwork for that business for a long time – learning and growing along the way. The author who seems to make it big out of no where has actually been writing for years and years, thousands and thousands of words.
Just because we live in a world where videos go viral and memes get hundreds of thousands of likes doesn’t mean we live in a new world where success is granted over night. The rules haven’t changed. Success hasn’t changed. The only thing that has changed is how quickly we are able to see the success. And because of that we think we are seeing people who are just getting lucky. In most cases, that’s not true.
Like one of my favorite pastors, Steven Furtick has said, “We’re comparing our behind the scenes to someone else’s highlight reel.” We’re comparing the nitty gritty hard work we do every day and every night with few minutes of fame we see from someone else. We’re comparing the work we do to save every dollar here and there to the new car, new house or vacation that someone else is going on. But, we don’t compare our behind the scenes with their behind the scenes.
If you want to get rich, if you want to be successful, gather a little bit every single day. Plant some seeds for your future every day and soon, you will have the future you have always dreamed of and others will be comparing their behind the scenes to your highlight reel.