Biblical Stewardship Resource Library

A ministry of Taylor University

Biblical Stewardship Resource Library

Why Do Some People Prosper Materially While Others Do Not? (Part 2)

They Must be Given the Abilities to Prosper

When I use the term abilities, I could just as easily use the word gifts. I remember what I heard a coach say once, “Hard work and dedication are critical to success, but neither is a substitute for talent.” My personal sports career confirms that hard work and dedication without a substantial dose of talent will make you, at best, an average athlete. There is just no substitute for natural, God-given ability. We all know people with an abundance of natural talent in some area in which they excel with little effort. I have identified five unique abilities that are common among those who achieve financial prosperity.

  • They have been given the needed intelligence.

Now I know “intelligence” is a relative term. And I, for one, have never paid excessive attention to IQ tests, because the grade one gets is not always a good indicator of that person’s actual intelligence (i.e., Einstein). A man once shared with me, “The A students become the teachers, and the B students go to work for the C students.” In other words, success in school and on tests is not what intelligence is all about. If you think about it, there is a lot of truth to that. You do not have to be the “brightest bulb on the tree” to succeed, but you do at least need to be above average. Have you ever asked yourself, why did God choose to give me such a good mind while not giving it to others? I will tell you why. It is just a gift.

  • They have been given the needed work ethic.

A number of years ago, I attended a convention of about 1,000 very successful business owners. A psychologist/executive coach was speaking and he asked this interesting question, “How many of you had your first real, paying job by the time you were eleven years old?” I was absolutely amazed; almost every single hand in the room went up. His point was that a motivation to work has been embedded in the personality of every financially successful person. That motivation produces the work ethic that continues to develop throughout their lives.

Before I was eleven, I was mowing lawns, delivering newspapers, and selling greeting cards door-to-door with my little red wagon behind me full of samples. God just gives some both the drive and the passion to work. It is something most wealthy people have been doing for many years now. You see, it is just a gift.

  • They have been given the needed vision.

You will remember Robert F. Kennedy expressed it this way, “There are those who look at things the way they are, and ask ‘Why?’ I dream of things that never were, and ask ‘Why not?’” Being able to see something in the future that does not yet exist is a gift only a very few are given. I am always amazed when I visit a manufacturing plant. I observe what they build and think, “How in the world did they ever think up how to create this product? How did they figure out how to build it?”

Once, I asked the owner of a manufacturing plant about how they came up with the way to build their product. He said, “Oh, it’s not all that difficult.” Nonsense! It is all that difficult. This man has the special ability to see what is not and bring what he sees into existence. How can people do that? I will tell you how. It is just a gift.

  • They have been given the needed courage.

As often as President Obama repeated during his campaign that he wants to redistribute the wealth in America (taking it from the Haves and giving it to the Have Nots), he admitted in his inaugural address that it will be the “risk takers” that will get us out of the mess that our country is currently in. Psychologists tell us that risk taking is not just a learned behavior; it is the way certain people are wired. It is part of who they are. The thrill of the risk of winning big or losing big is exhilarating for risk takers. They thrive on the adventure, the danger, and on “hitting the grand slam.” Relatively speaking, there are not many people like that in this world—ones who have this special wiring and who are not afraid to take a chance. Do you know why? Because it is just a gift.

  • They have been given the needed common sense.

I am not sure how many of you have ever heard of the Darwin Awards. It is a website that bestows its annual awards to people who have done exceedingly dumb things (proving, they say, that we must have evolved from apes through a process of the survival of the fittest and the demise of the dumbest). Most of the winners receive the recognition posthumously because they died from their award-winning mishap. If you have never visited their website, you might find it quite entertaining.

You have likely met many people during your lifetime who, as my dad used to say, “did not have enough sense to come in out of the rain.” We would all agree that not everyone is endowed with an adequate amount of common sense, especially when it comes to being materially prosperous in life. Even though I imagine each of us have some entertaining stories we could tell about some of the dumb things we have done during our lifetimes—confirming that we did not graduate first in the common sense class either—we did at least graduate. Why do you have such good common sense? I will tell you why. It is just a gift.

If God does not give them the needed intelligence, the required work ethic, the ability to be visionaries, wire them to be risk-takers, and give them a high level of common sense, then even if the person has the opportunity to prosper, he will not. Our country is full of people who have had every opportunity to succeed, but they struggle and fail because even though they have the opportunity, they do not have the abilities. That is because these abilities are gifts from God.

Download Article