Here’s my big message for you today: Give Big, Gain Big.
Last week, I talked about pain as an essential ingredient to success. Today, I’d like to talk about the second gift of giving: Prosperity.
People ask me, “Bo, are you a prosperity preacher?”
I’m not sure if you’re familiar with the prosperity gospel. Even if you’re not, it would be good to know what it is—so when people ask you if you believe in it, you’ll know how to answer.
You see, I believe that in relation to money, there are three types of gospels being preached today.
There’s only one Gospel, of course. It’s the Gospel of Jesus. But because we’re human beings, the gospel is preached in various ways with various interpretations.
Here are the three types of gospels:
1. prosperity gospel
2. poverty gospel
3. practical gospel
Let me spill the beans here: I preach the practical gospel.
By the way, please don’t try to google “practical gospel”. You won’t find anything about it out there. Because I coined the phrase myself. It’s my approach to life.
There are three big differences between each of these gospels, and I’ll explain them to you now.
First Big Difference:
What Is The Sign of God’s Favor?
1. Prosperity Gospel
Prosperity preachers live in luxury.
Prosperity preachers live in gated mansions with 14 rooms. They wear Armani suits. They wear a Rolex watch around their wrist. They drive in a shiny gold Rolls Royce. They fly in their own private jets.
Many people are scandalized because their wealth comes from their huge salaries, taken from the tithes and donations of their church members.
Yet they still flaunt their wealth.
Because they believe that ostentatious wealth is a sign of God’s favor.
2. Poverty Gospel
From the other side of the spectrum is the poverty gospel.
And Poverty preachers believe that poverty is a sign of God’s favor.
Because we’re a Catholic country, we Filipinos are more familiar with the poverty gospel than the prosperity gospel.
Why? Remember that celibate nuns and priests were our teachers in school—Nuns and priests who took the vow of poverty. (Note: I’m not looking down at the vow of poverty. It’s a very special and beautiful call from God to celibates.)
But because of this, deeply etched in our subconscious is the belief that if we really want to be holy, we should be poor like St. Francis of Assisi. If we want to gain brownie points with God, we should be poor like Mother Teresa of Calcutta.
Somewhere in our subconscious, we believe that in God’s sight, rich people are second-class citizens of the Kingdom.
That’s not true.
Here’s what I believe in…
3. Practical Prosperity
I don’t believe that ostentatious wealth isn’t a sign of God’s favor. (I believe ostentatious wealth is a sign of foolishness.)
Nor do I believe that poverty isn’t a sign of God’s favor too.
Here’s the difference between these three gospels:
The prosperity gospel believes in scandalous prosperity.
The poverty gospel believes in spiritual prosperity only.
The practical gospel believes in simple prosperity.
I believe simplicity is the happiest way to live.
The sign of God’s favor isn’t wealth or poverty.
The sign of God’s favor is generosity.
Two Benefits of Living Simply
Each year, my income increases.
My small businesses are growing. And I work hard to keep on expanding my income everyday.
But deliberately, my lifestyle has remained simple.
1. So I can give more.
2. So I can relax more.
Simplicity is the wisest way to live your life!
The Greatest Car In The World
I live in a simple house.
I live in a small house.
It’s so small, if I have visitors, all I have to do is close all the windows and open the door of my Refrigerator. And you’d think I had central air-conditioning.
I can build a bigger house. But I’ve decided not to do that because I don’t want to complicate my life.
I also drive a simple car.
Again, I can now afford to buy a better car, but I don’t want to do that.
I always tell people that my car is the greatest car in the world. I know. If you look at my car, you won’t look at it again. It’s so ordinary. But I call it the greatest car for three specific reasons.
First reason: Imagine that I’m in an intersection waiting for a green light. And a shiny blue BMW moves right beside me. And hiding in the street corner is a kidnapper, watching both of us. And he’s wondering, “Hmm, who should I kidnap?”
Guess who he’ll pick?
My car is the greatest car in the world.
Second reason: When I park my car, I park my car. I walk into a mall and I’m not thinking of my car. I totally forget about it. If I owned a Jaguar, I don’t really park my car. In my mind, I bring it along with me. I’m always worried that someone scratches it, bumps it, or steals it.
My car is the greatest car in the world.
Third reason: One day, I was driving on EDSA. And a car hit me on the side. We both stopped our cars. I looked at the other driver and saw that his car was old. The other driver looked at my car and he saw that it was old. We looked at each other, smiled, waved at each other, and drove off.
Isn’t that wonderful? My car is the greatest car in the world.
Look: I’m not saying you can’t buy a new car.
One of these days, I’ll need to upgrade my car.
But you’ll definitely not see me driving a Rolls!
Where I Got My Lessons On Simplicity
I’ll always be grateful to my parents for teaching me the beauty and power of simplicity.
They taught me that there are just some things that are more important than a big house or a flashy car.
When I was a kid, my father had a car.
Well, at least it looked like a car.
My classmates had cars with a little bit of rust.
I felt that Dad had rust with a little bit of car.
It was so old, everytime we drove it, you thought the drum and bugle band was passing by.
I wondered how come my classmates had beautiful cars.
I also wondered why my classmates had expensive homes with expensive décor. I remember visiting one of them. They even had huge Egyptian Jars from the Nephertiti era.
In my house?
We too had jars.
But ours came from the Nescafe era.
My mother even taught me how to be simple in my clothes…
My Holy Attire
When I was in Grade 4, all my classmates wore khaki shorts as our uniform. But slowly, some of them started wearing long khaki pants. So I told my mother, “Mom, can you buy me long pants?” She nodded her head and said, “Let’s save up for it.”
Uh-oh. I heard those words before.
That could take two years.
True enough, when I was in Grade 5, I was the only one wearing shorts.
When I was in Grade 6, I was the only one wearing a bikini. Because I had gotten taller, and my shorts had shrunk. And we couldn’t buy a new pair of shorts because we were saving up for my long pants.
Finally, when I graduated, Mom gave me long pants.
But as I walked the aisle on graduation day, I felt my pants was extra heavy. I realized the pant’s hemline had 7 folds.
I later asked my Mom, “Why does my hemline have 7 folds?”
Mom answered, “So it’ll be adjustable as you grow taller.”
When I was in high school, my classmates started wearing jeans. So I told my mother, “Mom, please buy my jeans. And please don’t say we’re going to save up for it, because that will take a century.”
I was surprised because she bought my pants the next day.
I wore it and paraded it to my classmates with great pride.
My classmates were shocked. “Wow, Bo is wearing jeans!” They inspected it. “Our jeans are Levi’s. What’s yours?” They read the label. “Ludy’s?”
To this day, I still wear Ludy’s jeans.
Why do I look good?
Nasa nagdadala yan.
You Can’t Judge If Someone
Is Living Simply Or Not
By the way, there’s no one standard of simplicity.
You can’t peek over your shoulder, looking if the other person beside you is living simply or not.
Simplicity is relative. The simpler you are, the less relatives you have. (Sorry, my mind short circuits sometimes and comes up with these terribly corny jokes.)
Simplicity is a posture of the heart.
For example, I know of someone who drives a P4 Million Volvo. That may not be simple for you but that is simple for him. Why? Because he’s so wealthy, he can afford to own a Ferrari, A Porsche, and a Lamborghini—but he decided not to. So he can give more to God’s work.
I repeat: There is no one standard of simplicity. Each person must decide what is simple for him.
Second Big Difference:
Does God Want You To Be Rich?
1. Prosperity Gospel
Prosperity preachers believe that God wants you to be rich and it’s a sin to be poor.
2. Poverty Gospel
Poverty preachers believe the very opposite. They believe that God wants you to be poor and it’s a sin to be rich.
3. Practical Gospel
Here’s what I believe: God wants you to be generous.
And to be rich or poor is a choice that God leaves up to you. He really leaves a lot of choices to us: Where to live; How to serve Him; Whether to get married or not; Whether to dye our hair green or purple…
A lot of people ask me, “Bo, what is God’s will for my life?” Usually, they’re asking it in relation to a job they’re applying for, or migrating to another company, or getting married with someone.
They think that God has a detailed plan for them.
I don’t believe in that. If God has a detailed plan for us, He shouldn’t have given us a phenomenal brain. He should have made us robots!
But He didn’t.
He gave us incredible creativity and a powerful imagination.
Why? To fill in the details.
I believe God’s will for us is a broad vision, not a detailed plan. He calls us to love Him with all our hearts, minds, and souls. How we’ll do that is really up to us.
I’m a father for my 2 boys.
My greatest dream for my kids isn’t to become rich.
My greatest dream for my kids is to be grown-up men who will live for others. Grown-up men who will give big and gain big.
Now if they can do that as wealthy men, that’ll be wonderful. That’ll be a great bonus. Because they can use their wealth for God’s work.
God is Father, and I believe He wants us to be as loving as Jesus is loving. To be rich or poor is our choice.
Third Big Difference:
How Do You Prosper?
1. Prosperity Gospel
Prosperity preachers teach that if you want to prosper, you only have to tithe—and prosperity will come.
Go ahead. Pick up a book written by a prosperity preacher. Most likely, you’ll discover that half of the book will be about tithing.
Don’t get me wrong.
I believe in tithing.
I tell people to do it all the time.
But I also believe that tithing isn’t enough to make you financially blessed.
2. Poverty Gospel
And then there’s the poverty gospel.
They believe that you should just tithe, suffer in this valley of tears, and wait for Heaven to come.
3. Practical Gospel
What do I believe?
I believe that if you want to succeed in your finances, you need to do two things: You need to tithe and take charge of your finances.
By taking charge, I mean living simply, wiping out your consumer debts, saving and investing, and develop an entrepreneurial thinking!
Both the prosperity and poverty preachers teach you in investing in Heaven only.
I believe in investing both in heaven and on earth.
I believe that you should give 10% as your heavenly investment, and 20% as your earthly investment.
People tell me, “Bo, I like you because you walk your talk.”
I laugh and say, “Perhaps it’s not because I’m holy. Perhaps it’s because I’m an artist.”
You see, I love to communicate visually.
On stage, I act, I show props, and I tell stories with drama.
And one of my favorite visual aids in my talkis my life.
Because I believe that “who I am speaks so loudly, you won’t hear what I’m saying.”
My life is far from perfect. Believe me.
But I struggle to live by this talk: I earn as much as I can, I save as much as I can, and I give as much as I can.
For example? I avoid the prosperity gospel.
I decided not to receive a salary from the tithes of my community, Light of Jesus. Please know that the Bible says we should financially support our leaders. In fact, all our fulltime leaders receive allowances—and rightly so. I’d love to give them more support for all the fantastic work that they do.
But my position is very sensitive: I’m Founder and Presiding Elder. In recent years, there have been many scandals of religious leaders using tithes of their members to fund their mansions and private jets. And because of this, people are watching. That’s why I opted not to receive a salary.
I also did two other things: Being an author of 18 bestselling books, my author’s royalties are quite sizable. I decided to donate that for ministry.
I’m also one of the highest paid corporate speakers in the country. I also chose to donate all my speakers’ fees back to the ministry.
Being generous gives me so much joy.
But because of these decisions, I’ve experienced first hand the statement—that God cannot be outdone in generosity.
By being extra generous, it caused me inner pain (remember my talk last week?). Enough inner pain to fuel me to work, grow, and expand my businesses!
God has prospered the work of my hands.
I’ve tested the practical gospel.
My friend, Give big, Gain big.
May your dreams come true,
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