Money is a necessity and let’s admit it, it matters to everyone. But, in the Christian world, there are diverse beliefs about wealth, money, and spending, some of them opposing, that we find ourselves struggling to reconcile our beliefs with the way we create wealth and handle money. What are your thoughts about money and spending? Are you aware of the role money plays in your life? And what does the Bible say about money?
Alex Cook of Wealth With Purpose joins us today to help us ponder these questions. He asserts that getting a biblical worldview of wealth and money is as crucial as getting your heart right. The Bible, Alex says, gives us great truths to steer us through the ways we think about our money and our spending. Click now and let’s get into money matters in light of God’s truth.
Key Points From This Episode:
“If you're going to preach and teach on money, you need to be in good shape with money.”
“Does your money-spending reflect a heart that's sold out to God?”
“Good stewardship starts with how you spend your money. Are you spending it wisely?”
“Christians need to reflect God's character. So, if God is generous, we need to be generous.”
“Move more toward having that internal focus and directing our budgets toward things that are going to last rather than temporal things.”
“We need to get rid of this scarcity mentality that once it's given, it's gone. God has no lack of resources.”
Money, Possessions, and Eternity by Randy Alcorn
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About Alex Cook
Alex Cook is the CEO & Founder of Wealth with Purpose, an organization that equips Christians to honor God with their finances, by teaching them sound financial planning skills based on the wisdom of the Bible. Alex is passionate about helping Christians ensure that their financial house is in order so that they can fulfill the purposes for which God has called them.
He is regularly quoted in Secular and Christian media, including the Australian Financial Review, Vision FM, Hope 103.2FM and has also appeared as a guest expert on TV programs such as Sky Business – Your Money, Your Call.
ANNOUNCER: Imagine taking your generosity to the next level, impacting more lives, and leaving a godly legacy for generations to come. Get ideas and strategies to do just that when you listen to these personal stories from high-level Kingdom champions.
The Kingdom Investor Podcast showcases business leaders who have moved from success to significance, sharing how they use worldly wealth for kingdom impact. Discover how they grew in generosity, impacted more lives, and built godly legacies. You'll find motivation, inspiration, and practical steps to grow as a Kingdom Investor.
Daniel White (DW): Hello, and welcome to The Kingdom Investor Podcast. I'm your host Daniel White. Today we hear from Alex Cook. Alex is the founder and CEO of Wealth With Purpose. Prior to starting Wealth With Purpose, he built a financial planning practice with client funds in excess of $200 million. Alex sold his practice in 2013 to focus on what he believes to be an integral part of his calling, teaching the body of Christ what the Bible says about money, wealth and business.
If you've enjoyed this episode, follow us on LinkedIn at The Kingdom Investor Podcast.
And now without further ado, let's jump right into the show.
DW: Alex Cook, welcome to The Kingdom Investor Podcast. How are you doing today?
Alex Cook (AC): I'm very well, Daniel. Thanks. It's an honor to be with you. So yeah, thanks for having me on your show.
DW: Absolutely. I've been excited about it. And can you tell the listeners where you're coming to us from and maybe just a little bit of context?
AC: Yeah, sure. So I'm currently, people might be able to detect from the accent that I'm an Australian. At the moment, I'm not actually in Australia, I'm in a very large city in South America called Buenos Aires in Argentina. Very passionate. You know, we're in the middle of a World Cup at the moment. So, passionate soccer bunch, as you might be aware, and I'm married to an Argentine. And so we've been here for a couple of months. And we have four fairly, fairly young children, 13 and below. And yeah, having lots of fun here in the summer in Buenos Aires City.
DW: So Alex, what do you do right now? Just give us just a real high-level view. And then if you can pray for our listeners, then we'll kind of jump into more of the backstory of how you got there.
AC: Yeah, sure. So look, I do two main things. So my adult life has predominantly been as a licensed financial advisor. Initially, I started in stock broking, did that for a couple of years, and then transitioned to financial planning back in about 2002. And so I've been financial advising ever since. But then, and we'll go into this more later in terms of the call of God around my life, but that then led to set up a ministry. So that ministry is called Wealth With Purpose. And that's been going since 2013. And what we'd call that is a stewardship ministry. And so I've been leading that now for that, for that period that I founded it. And really, our passion is teaching what the Bible says about money. And we do that in a range of ways. We've courses that we run in churches. I've got three weekly radio programs in Australia, so we broadcast through Christian radio in Australia which is fantastic, because we get to, you know, we get to the joy of being able to share God's word and what it says about money across Australia. And then we run a range of events and so forth, that really aimed at really helping.
I feel like I guess my passion is really helping people to become financially healthy with the intent that they then fund God's kingdom, you know, we're living, you know, look at the world's going crazy. I'm sure most people would agree. And we need to get God's word out there. We need to fund the Great Commission. We've got work to do. And ultimately, as I say, we want to help people, but we want to help them with a purpose that they actually use what God has blessed them with to advance his kingdom. So that's, that's what we're, that's what we're about.
And yeah, but look, I'm happy to have to pray for everyone now. So Lord, we just thank you for this time. Lord, we know that you are a good God, you love us and you have plans for us, to serve you and to build your kingdom. And so Lord, I just ask now, Lord, for the listeners, Lord that you will bless them with what Daniel and I are going to talk about, that you'll speak through us. That we'll impart biblical wisdom that will share just nuggets of your word that will be a blessing to people. We'll give them new skills, new tools. We'll give them wisdom that they can use in their daily lives as we seek to glorify You. And so Lord will be, yeah, we just thank you for this time together and just pray your blessing over all those that might listen to this. May their lives be touched, and it'd be improved because of it. In Jesus' precious name. Amen.
DW: Amen. Thank you for that prayer. Would you share a little bit more of your story and kind of your, your calling to this really ministry, I guess, business ministry?
AC: Yeah, so look, so really, I started in stock broking do that for a couple of years moved into financial planning, and probably around, I'm guessing it was around sort of 2008 2009 I really just sensed that God was wanting me to use these skills for the body of Christ. I'd always I'd probably always describe myself as having what I call the ministry itch, in the sense that I always had this sense of, you know, should I go into ministry? Should I become a pastor? And look, I think a lot of Christian business people feel the sense that they could be doing more, you know, often we're in a secular world. And we think, you know, we're not doing enough. And I think that's actually wrong thinking, I think, we haven't realized that actually, God's got us there for a reason and a vision and a purpose.
So I'm very glad I actually didn't go into pastoral ministry, I didn't leave the church, I actually helped a lot of church leaders through their ministry, but I don't, I'm not a pastor. And yeah, so I really just came to this realization, though, that I built up these skills over a period of time. And I felt God wanted me to start using those for the church. So, at the time, so this was back in 2012, I basically led to the decision to sell my financial planning business. I actually have another one now, a second one that we've set up in 2018. But I just sensed the it was basically an act of obedience is what I would call it, you know, in life, you got to take risks. I was earning a good income as a financial planner and had a good client base. But I sense God was wanting us to change gears and go into this stewardship ministry.
So, I sold my financial planning business in 2012-2013. It happened over a couple of months period, and set up this ministry Wealth With Purpose. So the website is WealthWithPurpose.com. And, ultimately, that has been an amazing journey over the last, what, nine, nine years, almost 10 years. And, really, and also, just to give you more information to the lead-up, I just, as I say, I felt this calling that this ministry itch to start doing more for the Kingdom. And I'd also had a number of one or two, sort of, prophetic words, just people telling me about things that I might do in the future. And that was basically not just I didn't just, you know, turn a switch and quit my job and that was it. It was sort of a journey, it didn't just happen overnight. And it wasn't done out of frustration, it wasn't done, because, you know, I just wanted to do something else, I wasn't happy. It wasn't so much that. It was just this sense of, over time, God leading me down this path.
And there were all sorts of things that happen, some doors were closed, others were opened, etc. So sort of unfolded. And that led us to, as I say, set up this ministry in 2013. And that's been an amazing ride. As I say, we created all these courses for Christians. So we've got courses for, we base it on life stage. So, courses for married couples, for young adults, for retirees, which is basically me saying don't retire, run your race for Jesus instead. And Kingdom business and also courses for pastors. And so we launched that. And what we found is initially, a lot of pastors kind of pat you on the back and say, great idea, but then they wouldn't necessarily engage with it that much. So it was a bit challenging, maybe we hadn't done enough market research around it.
But then we launched an event called the Stewardship Summit. And what that was aimed at was church leaders. And what we wanted to help them to do was to be able to teach about money, to promote generosity in their churches, to be able to fund the vision of their church, because most church leaders will tell you, they don't need to have enough to fund the things that they have on have in mind. And so we started doing that. And that then led to basically hundreds of pastors coming along to this event. And then as a result of that, we then started preaching a lot of churches around Australia, and just in consulting to churches and in helping them out.
So that was part of that journey. And then also over that sort of couple of years. I've been doing random radio interviews with Christian radio hosts, and that was a lot of fun, but then that's sort of, then along came this sort of golden opportunity for life, where a couple of them said, hey, can we do a regular program? And so as I said, we've now got three regular radio programs in Australia, where I get to teach on air each week. So it's fantastic. You know, obviously COVID came along. That disrupted everything. I stopped speaking and preaching in churches. But God has a sense of humor and a way of getting through all of this. And, of course, the outcome of that was we probably now reach far, far more people through radio than what we were doing when I've traveled around preaching.
So, it's fantastic. And as I say, the, what we're ultimately about, and because I can see all of this sort of changing over time, we've got lots of plans going forward of new things we're going to experiment with. But really, at the end of the day, the ultimate goal of all this is, as I say, helping people to become financially healthy, give them a biblical worldview, towards their money. And then, once they have that biblical worldview, to have them focus on eternity, and things of eternal value, so that they fund God's kingdom. You know, I'm 46, can't believe how quickly life goes, it goes in the blink of an eye. And at the end of the day, you can waste a lot of time doing things that don't matter, or you can focus on building God's kingdom. And to me, once you, once you sign up, and you become a Christian, you know, that's it, you're surrendered. And it's time to get to work for the kingdom. And finances is just one part of that but it's a very important part, because it's ultimately a litmus test of your heart. So it's very, very important that we get that right.
So yeah, so that's sort of, I guess, a little bit of the journey. As I say the ministry is evolving, and we've got lots of plans about new things we're going to try. But it's exciting and God opens doors and closes them along the way. And that sort of helped narrow our focus into what we think we're meant to be doing. So yeah, it's been great. And hard, not easy.
DW: Can you unpack that a little bit? About just your personal journey in it, and really moving from kind of building a business to building a ministry and kind of what that shift look like, and maybe some of the challenges of that but also the rewards and delights of that?
AC: Yeah, so I think in terms of the challenges, so as I said, I was, you know, I had, my previous business was earning reasonable money. I had a good job, life was good, and so forth. And then we stepped into the ministry in 2013. And so I think two things happened probably at the same time. One is that, I think, if you're going to preach and teach on money, you need to be in good shape with money. I don't mean have money as in have lots of money, but you need to be, your heart needs to be in good shape. And so ultimately, we went through a process really where a lot of it was stripped away. As in a lot of the money stripped away from the sale of the business and things like that. And we never, we were never in need. We've never, as in we never went without.
But, it was a journey of having to ultimately learn to trust God, having to really apply the Bible. So you know, you can read it, and you can know about it. But until you experience certain things, and whether it's hardship or, or tests, you're not quite there. I mean, that's not to say you have to experience certain bad things to know that they're bad. But it's merely to say that, ultimately, sometimes God lets things happen to us and takes us through a refining process. You know, I think in the Christian world, we like to talk about being blessed, and God loves us and we tend to focus too much on that and not the journey and the process of the things that happen along the way which can be quite difficult. So we went through that process. And so I think, really, God was really very kind to us. He just basically took us into a position where we had to ultimately trust him, and we had to decide that we were going to keep being obedient to the call, despite the fact that would have been easier, really, just to go back to what we're doing.
So I guess that's the, I guess, the God part. The second part of that is more, what I would call the spiritual warfare, the spiritual attack. You know, when we look at our society today, you know, you very see, you just have to look at the news. There's, there's a war going on, and it's a 24-hour war, 24/7 for the souls of mankind. And so, when you go into ministry, when you go in as a pastor, and I don't like the term going into ministry, because as I say, my view is everyone who's a believer is in ministry, that's my position. But when you do try and step out into your calling, the devil knows that you're going to become a lot more dangerous to his kingdom will When you're fulfilling your calling, when you're actually doing what you're meant to be doing, you become a threat to what he's doing. The average person, you know, if you're just sitting in the pew on Sunday, and you're just a spectator, which sadly, many Christians are, then you're not really much of a threat. But soon as you start doing what you're meant to be doing, you're a threat to society. And so you're gonna start experiencing lots of hassles.
And so, I think, for us, probably the way that's mostly manifested itself, I mean, there's been nothing really bad as in no major tragedies or anything like that, but there have been endless distractions. So just, I mean, I'm just trying to think I was actually going to, I started earlier this year, keeping a bit of a diary. And I've written down about 20 things in the first two months, just little weird distractions that came along. Just things just whether it was car issues, like, for example, two weeks ago, had the number plates on our car got stolen, and you kind of think well, like, it's never happened to me before. So that sounds really trivial but it's constant. It's constant. And so what my wife and I talk about is the need for us to, you know, a lot of Christians when they're married, they're bit lazy praying together. So, we are trying to be much more intentional about that. I say, trying because we don't want to give any, I don't want to give any misconception of some sort of spiritual perfection or holiness or any of that, because that would be misleading. I think sometimes, Christians who do this kind of thing can mislead people to make it out easier than it is.
But the point being is that you know, you will, once you start heading towards your calling, you will experience spiritual attack. And that may manifest itself in different forms, whether it's distraction, discouragement is a huge one. But, that's just part of it. And so you have to be true to the calling and follow on from that. But throughout that journey, though, God has been amazingly gracious. And we've had lots of just little things along the way. I'll give you an example. These are the kinds of supernatural little things that happen along the way. So, probably guessing six or seven years ago, my wife and I were in Nashville, and we're at a conference called the National, NRB is what's called, National Religious Broadcasters there in the US, and we were wanting to basically to work out how we could get on Christian radio in the US to promote the ministry because we find radios quite effective. And plus, it's a teaching opportunity. And so we're at this conference, and it was, it was quite overwhelming. There are 4000 people, so many things. I mean, there was just no way you were going to get through all that much when you were there because there were just so many people.
And so my wife and I, in the hotel, we pray each morning. God opens the right doors and close the wrong ones. Anyway, I was in the men's toilet, of all things. And I was there washing my hands and standing beside me, it was a very well-known US talk show host, a guy called Dr. Michael Brown. I don't know if you know him, he does a lot of radio and probably does video stuff as well. He deals with a lot of the difficult cultural issues and all the trends and all the big issues that are going on in society at the moment. So he's in the front line, so to speak. And anyway, I got talking to him because I said I, you know, I follow your work. I read a lot of your articles. Anyway, he's a lovely guy. And we started talking, he said, What are you doing in the US? And I said, oh, we're here trying to work out how we can get on US radio. And he goes, well, how would you like to go on in half an hour?
And I'm like, oh, man, I wasn't expecting that. And so the stress kicked in. But he was actually broadcasting from the hotel. His team had set up all the equipment. They were broadcasting there. And so we ended up, so I ended up being on Christian radio whilst there. And he said, oh, that was good. Can you come back in an hour? Because obviously, the US has multiple time zones, so he has to change time zones, he was going to rebroadcast. And yeah, so I ended up on us radio whilst being there. And to be honest, when my wife and I were there, we thought we'd meet people, and maybe six months later, something might happen. But here I was, and it happened instantly, basically. And so that was a real lesson to me on a few things. One is the goodness of God. But also, just that God can turn things on and off at a drop of a hat. He can make things happen so easily. Things that, I mean, I just wouldn't have thought of that. That is ridiculous, I was in the men's toilet of all things. You don't try and meet people in the toilet, you know what I mean? But so it was just an amazing thing. And so, to me, God is just amazingly gracious. He opens doors and things can happen. And so I think so even though as I say there have been challenges along the way the spiritual warfare, the distraction, occasional discouragement, etc. There's also been God's grace and mercy towards us. As I say, we've never gone without. And, also now, we're at, we now feel we've got much of a greater sense of where we're at what we're meant to be doing. And the directions become clearer over that, over that period. And, you know, we're still experimenting with things and ministry, things we want to try. But ultimately, as I say, we're very clear on that vision. So, yes, there's been challenges but God has been very good to us throughout that.
DW: Wow, yeah, that's really encouraging to hear. And there's a lot of similarities, I feel like, between a lot of different people's stories who have stepped out in faith, and trusted God and grown in the process, and then God can use us more effectively to fulfill our calling. So can we could you share maybe what your definition of Christian stewardship is? Maybe unpack that a little bit too?
AC: Sure. So look, to me, it's, it's quite a simple term, in really, the idea of stewardship is really the God is the owner of everything. And that as His people we are called to, to manage it, we're called to look after it. So if you look at it, from a scriptural point of view, there's a number of verses that point to God's ownership. So Psalm 24, verse one, "The earth is the Lord's, and all those that are in it." And there's others as well, you know, as the cattle on a thousand hills. There's a number of verses that I think really point to this idea. This is actually God's words, it's not ours. And we're called to manage it. So then, as you then apply that, as a believer, I've then got to manage whatever God's given me. Of course, that's not just money, it's our time, it's our talents, etc. And so, there's a responsibility for us to steward well what God's put in our hands. And of course, the question is, then what for, to what end are we trying to achieve? And to me, ultimately, it's the glorification of God, we, our good stewardship, ultimately, and I give the analogy of, let's say, you're driving around Kentucky at night, and you drive past the church, and many churches, you know, have a cross up on the roof. And often there's a spotlight, and that spotlight, those shining up at the cross, it's not, it's not shining, you know, on anything else. And so, our lives should be that spotlight that points to the cross. And so the way we use our money, because obviously, that's what our ministry is about, should point people to that. They should point people to Jesus. And that's ultimately, what good stewardship is about pointing people to Jesus.
And of course, as part of that management of money, we've got to use money, we've got to give money where you know, whether it's to our local church, whether it's to helping the poor, there's a massive emphasis on scripture on helping the poor. But you know, whatever Kingdom activities God puts on your heart, you were to fund those things. And of course, it's not just about giving, you know, stewardship is a holistic concept. As I say, it's not just money as well, it's time and your talents. But from a money perspective, it's about looking after and doing good with it. And look, probably my favorite sort of parable on it. And it depends on which version of the Bible you read, it's called, the Parable of the Gold Bags in some, Parable of the Talents in others. But really, it's basically saying, there's a master, he goes away, he gives each of the servants different amounts. And it actually it's interesting says, each according to his ability, have some get more gold, some little, and then one, just one gold bag. And of course, master goes away, and then returns and to me, this is just a classic story of Jesus himself. He's going to return one day, and he's going to call us to an account.
So the reality of the way we steward things is going to be we're going to be held to account. And God is going to say, what did you do with what I gave you. And the thing is, when Jesus returns, or we obviously we pass into eternity, everything we've ever done is frozen at that point in time, that's it game over. And it's going to be, you know, it's going to be judged. And at that point, you know, the Bible is very clear that we're going to be rewarded. And so I guess the message, I think, in this for listeners is we do need to have good stewardship, we'll have this eternal focus, because we're doing it for the master. You know, we're doing it for Jesus, we want to be good stewards of what he's given us. And we want to fund it and advance his kingdom because one day he's gonna come back, he's gonna say, Well, what did you do with it? And I think this is a big responsibility, particularly for those of us in the West, you know, countries like America or Australia, you know, where they're generally prosperous. Sadly, they're in decline, but that's a whole nother topic in itself, but certainly, they're very prosperous. And you know, the Bible says, to whom much is given much as expected. So, you know, there should be a strong sense of responsibility to be good stewards of what God has given us. So, that's how I sort of think of stewardship. Hopefully, that helps people in terms of how we sin.
DW: Yeah, I think that is very helpful. And I think that's very, it can be maybe very theoretical. So do you maybe have a few, I don't know, even examples of some practical ways that we can implement that in our lives? And, maybe what that looks like on a personal level with our funds?
AC: Yeah. Yes, that's a great question. So as you say, it can be quite theoretical. And in the, that's the principles, right, we're managing what God's got. But if you start breaking it down. First, I'd say to people, you start with your income, and your cash flow, your household budget. So all of us have a certain amount coming in, whether it's from your employment, whether it's from your investments, whether it's from government payments, there's a certain amount coming into your house, and then there's a certain amount of going out in expenses, whether it's your rent, your electricity, bills, all those kinds of things, money coming in, money going out. And ultimately, good stewardship should mean that there's a surplus. Now, obviously, they will go through tough times, and they might be in deficit for time. But for the most part, we should be in surplus because I, you're spending less than what you earn. That's a simple principle. So you don't get into trouble first and foremost. But part of that, that sort of analysis, you know, we call it budgeting, that part of that analysis really, is about saying, does my budget on a God does, how spending my money, reflect a heart that's sold out to God? Now, this doesn't mean that people can't enjoy what God's given them. You know, at the end of the day, God is a loving father, and he does want you to enjoy what he's given you.
So it's not all about giving every cent away. But it is about having a prioritization that God is first. And so one of the things we teach in our courses is what I call the 80-10-10 rule. And that is, the first 10% is giving to God, second 10% for long-term saving, and then 80% to live on. Now, that's not meant to be concrete, nor is it meant to be legalistic, it's meant to be said, as a simple structure to help people think through practically, that the first of what they earn, we should be giving that to God, whether that's through your local church, whether it's missions and various things that you support. We need to give to God as our number one priority. Now, if you look at Matthew 6:33, Seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added unto you. In other words, God's got to be first, and then let him take care of the rest. So, from a practical point of view, good stewardship starts with how am I spending my money? And am I spending it wisely?
And in fact, I read in a book, if you want to start this ministry, I read every kind of Christian money book I could find. And one had a quote from a pastor that said, your bank statements are like theological documents because theological documents is about what you believe. And your bank statements really are a testimony to what you actually believe. And so I always joke with people when I public speak, I say, oh, well, later on, you're going to hand me your bank statements and we'll see what's really important here. And that's the point, how we spend money reflects what is of value to us. And so if we're giving money away, whether it's to the poor, to our church, etc, we're saying that those things have value. And so the day to day way we spend money should reflect what's important to us. And you know, as you know, a lot of Christians say, Our God is first in my life, which is great, it's a great cliche, but is he first with your money? Because if he's not first with the money, then is he really first at all?
So, you know, some of what I'm saying is challenging, because at the end of the day, it's easy to say these things, it's another whole thing to actually then go and do it. And so, and to me, these things are stretching. And so what I say particularly with giving, you know, giving should be a huge priority and in that budget, but it's also something that you need to increase every year. Now, you can get into all sorts of discussions around tithing and things like that, I tend to focus more on the principle and the principle is that Christians need to reflect God's character. God is generous, we need to be generous, and therefore we need to grow in our generosity. So each year we should be trying to increase our giving and become more generous. And so that, to me, is a is a challenge because at the end of the day, money is a heart issue. And there's a constant tug of war between good versus evil and also between human nature and human selfishness versus, you know, advancing God's kingdom. And so you're always going to have that tension in your life. But as you grow and As you become more mature and God test you, and you know, lots of things happen in your life, the idea is obviously to move more towards having that internal focus and directing our budgets towards things that are going to last rather than temporal things.
As I say, that's not to say you become Scrooge McDuck and don't enjoy your money. It's just simply to say that you have that prioritization that God is first, which it's not always easy, but that's got to be the thing. And it gets tested, because when tough times come, it'll get tested you know, we're watching at the moment around the world interest rates explode, that many people are going to have their cash flow constricted, as their debt start to get tougher, as it's gonna get harder. And so they're going to be put to test. And so these things, that's when the rubber hits the road, as they say, and, you know, people are going to ultimately be forced to choose what's important. And you're going to have to choose what are your priorities when it comes to your budget. So yeah, that's the start. To me, as I say, the cash flow budget really is a starting point, how do you spend your money and how you spend it on things of value?
DW: So if that's the starting point, and you talked about the 10-10-80, what about somebody who's kind of established that and moved on to maybe the next step? Or what would that look like?
AC: Yeah, look. So I take the view that as you particularly if you take the ad 1010 is as you start to earn more. And as you start to grow in your maturity, we want those ratios to change. So in other words, you start giving more. And look, there's all sorts of ways you can do this practically. So some people will talk about what we call incremental giving. So let's say you're giving 10% Next year, you give 11 year after you've 1213. So you can give incrementally and keep increasing that. But to me, it's more about so rather than that, that's taking a very, I guess a systematic way of looking at it. But to me, it's more about ultimately, when God puts opportunities in front of you to give, and he puts those things on your heart, that out of obedience, you support them. Because I think one of the big challenges is that, with particular with giving most of us there is a gift of giving. So some people have a genuine gift.
But, for most of us, it's actually it's a challenge, because it's you, there's a sense that once you give it, it's gone. That's, you know, I've given it away. But what that fails to understand is what God is like, and God is this God of abundance, you know, you read two Corinthians chapters eight, nine, God is a God of abundance, and so he can meet and supply us with all our needs. And so the more we start, if you like shoveling it out and giving it a, what you'll find is God can then easily bring it in and replace it. Now, I'm not trying to say God's gonna make you rich or anything like that, it's merely to say that God has no lack, there's no lack of resources. And so we need to get rid of this scarcity mentality that many people have that once it's given, it's gone. So as I say, once you got 8010 10, in place, that's fine, but you're still going to have the spiritual issues to deal with. And the challenge is to step out and increase of giving over time. But also, I think it goes beyond just purely giving, it's about having this kingdom mindset that we want to sow into things and, and fan, you know, invest, so it can be investing money, in projects, investing money in new ministries, it doesn't have to be just this, you know, just give to your local church, which by the way I fully support, I'm not trying to detract from that, it's merely to say.
We've got to get creative and start thinking, what is it God is really wanting me to sew into, to make a difference that's going to last, and that may well, right relate to your calling to. So as if you've got a particular call, and God wants you to fund that and put money towards towards that. So it's a process, it's going to grow, you're going to have spiritual challenges along the way. So most of us are inherently you know, human nature kicks in, and we tend to withhold, and so forth. But over time, we want to grow, be more generous and have that eternal focus. I mean, I think in America, you've got Rick Warren, who obviously wrote that famous book, I think, The Purpose Driven Life and I think he said he reverse tithes from it, you know, he gave away 90%, which I think is great. I mean, I think that's the kind of way to think about these things. We've got to we've got to get beyond the danger of the 80-10-10 rule is sometimes people will think that a 10% they're done that's it I've ticked the box. I'm a good Christian. I've done what God wants me to do. But that's that's actually not right. It's it's a good base to start from, but it's something we should be growing on and developing over time. And I always say to people, particularly on the topic of tithing, I say Jesus always raised the bar he never lowered the bar. So it's something you want to grow into and become more generous, like Christ. So it's sad. None of these things are necessarily easy, but they're a challenge. And you've really got to pray to God, what is it you want me to sow into. And it should be sacrificial.
And this is, I think the challenge is that, in the West, it's probably fairly easy. I mean, depends on one circumstance, but it's fairly easy to tick the box and do the 10%. It's much harder to because that might not be sacrificial, right? 10% for some people wouldn't change their lifestyle one bit. For some people, like a single mum, that'd be huge, potentially. So it's really an issue of, of sacrifice. You know, I love the story in the Bible of the poor widow. We have Jesus looking, I think, looking over the temple, and you're seeing people putting all their large sums of money. And then this poor widow comes in, and she puts in her two copper coins. And look, some people interpret this passage in different ways. But the way I look at it is this is a woman, she says she gave her last two copper coins, everything that she had. Now, some people will, may interpret that as oh, we're gonna give everything away. I don't think that's the point. The point is, is that she knew that God was her source of provision, and that God wanted her to sow into the temple, and that he was going to take care of her irrespective of the fact that she has given it all away. And that's, I think, the challenge we need to get to where we realize that when we're giving God is going to, it's not going to leave us and then just become destitute, because we've lived generously. So look, as I say, there's lots and lots of passages that really encourage us to think. Think about this, particularly in the New Testament, really, New Testament challenges as to a higher level of generosity.
DW: Absolutely. So he shared a couple of barriers to really growing in generosity and obeying God in this Christian stewardship, mindset and kingdom mindset. Do you have any other barriers that you've seen that are common challenges?
AC: Yeah, so my answer’s divided into two parts. One is practical, one is spiritual. At the practical level, I think the big barrier in Western culture is the level of debt. You know, Australia, where I'm from, the level of indebtedness, it's the second most indebted households on Earth. And if you read Proverbs, it says the rich rules over the poor and the borrower becomes the slave of the lender. So the big trap, and I actually believe this is a trap of Satan is that you take on too much debt. The Bible never paints debt as sinful. But it's a wisdom issue. And if you take on too much debt, so I appreciate you know, everyone wants to own their own home. And that usually involves a mortgage. But many, many people overdo it. And as a result, they become enslaved. And therefore, that's a massive barrier to being a good steward, and a massive barrier to being generous, because ultimately, if you're enslaved, and what we're witnessing now in the West is obviously this massive spike in interest rates, we don't know how serious that will become. And as a result of that, many people will be enslaved. And that's my big concern for the West. And it's a big trap. So that's the practical side of it. And this is one of probably a few,
But on the spiritual side, so I say money is very spiritual. I mean, if you believe that God is the owner of everything, anyway, then by default, it's spiritual. And to me, there's a number of spiritual barriers. So one is idolatry. And so idolatry is, is making money a false god. You know, Jesus said, You can't serve two masters, you leave the loved one or hate the other. You can't love God and you can't serve God and money. And depending on which version of the Bible you use, sometimes like say, The New King James uses the word mammon, not money. And Mammon is like a you know, it's like a god it's been Money takes on almost human characteristics or spiritual characteristics, and you start serving. And so this is this is the big issue. Who are you really serving you serving God? Or your or is money your master? See, money is always meant to be a tool. It's not meant to be a It's not meant to be a master. So we've got to have that thinks that idolatry is alive and well, certainly in Australia, where I'm from, I'd say, homeownership is possibly the biggest idol. That followed by travel. Australians are obsessed with traveling and holiday, by the way, and I think Timothy Keller in the US he's written a great book called counterfeit gods and I think what he actually says is, idolatry. Today is usually in good things they get taken too far. So owning your own home is a good thing. Having a car have you on holiday, there are good things, absolutely nothing wrong with them. However, if they're the focus of our life, if they're the, if they're the things that we're living for, then they're probably become a God in your life a false god and you're committing idolatry, which, you know, God is a jealous God, he doesn't want you to have false idols, you know, in your life. And so that's, that, to me is a huge barrier.
The second big one, and this one is one I've had to struggle with over the years is identity. So for example, I'll give you once again, I'll use myself as an example. So when I was 21, I was a stockbroker, and in fact, I worked for a very big American firm. And the thing about it was, not only did I want to be successful, but I wanted to look successful. Now, when you want when you want to look successful, what do you do? Well, you buy new clothes, expensive European cars, you often do that with leverage, with borrowed money, and you do silly things. So I was not a wise steward at 21 years of age with the money I had, because even I was earning quite a good income for a 21-year-old. But the reality is, I wanted to look successful. Now there's nothing wrong with wanting to be successful. I mean, depends on what you mean by that term anyway. Because I think we want to be successful in the ministries that God puts us. In fact, if you look at certain things in Proverbs, it says that, if you do things God's way that will lead to success. Once again, you got to use biblical definitions rather than the world's definition. But the point being here is that the danger of all of this is that you get your identity from what you have, and what you do. Whereas once someone who is a Christian, is you need to get your identity from the fact that you are a precious child of God, that God loves you, that your worth has nothing to do with your net worth.
And once you grasp that, and that takes time, because you know, a lot of people have poor relationships with their own family, their own father's which distorts them, and how they see God. You know, they see God as big stick guys, what about the Wacom? So they have a distorted view. And therefore that can affect all these things. You know, we live in a broken world. But once you get your identity, right, and realize actually, the only person that really matters here is God and what he thinks of me, not what Joe Bloggs down the road. Because the reality is, and this is the hard reality is, most people actually don't care less about us, they couldn't care less if you're rich or poor anyway, they don't care, they care about themselves. And so we're often trying to, you know, I think there's a cliche, most people spend their life by buying things they don't need, to impress people they don't like. I don't know if you've heard that before. But it's sad, but it's true. But it's because we're getting identity from the wrong thing. So we need to get rid of, I guess, money and stuff as our identity and make sure we're getting our identity from being believers, and knowing that we have a loving God, who has great plans for us.
So that, that gives you an idea. So as I say, there's some practical things like that. But there's also the spiritual things. There's all sorts of other spiritual things as well. I don't know how much time we've gotten these things, like fear is a real barrier for many people. There's, there's all sorts of things, you know, the desire for status, etc, which is often identity related. So yeah, but there, I think there's some of the challenges that we're going to encounter along the way. And that's why it's important to have people around you who can lovingly hold you to account and correct you. Or say you need the right kind of people in the sense that you don't want people who are either jealous or judgmental. You want people who actually realize that actually, you know what, this is a tough journey, and that we need support along the way. And we can encourage each other to have more focused lives on Christ. Because as I said, right, early on, this is short, when I hear for a long time, we've got to get this right. Because we want to make a difference. I mean, at the end of the day, and most people and most Christians, I would hope, have the same desire that I have, which is to get to heaven and hear the words well done. good and faithful servant. I mean, that's what I desire to hear. And, you know, work towards that. work towards that goal.
DW: Absolutely, I wanted to jump back to what you said towards the beginning. Something about retirement and your kind of advice around finishing the race and really focusing on eternity. Can you touch on that?
AC: Yeah, okay. So retirement. So, my philosophy is quite simple. I mean, I've built a career as a financial advisor helping people plan for retirement. So my position is quite straightforward, and that is that you need to prepare financially for retirement. But as a Christians, we should totally discard the world's view of retirement. The world's view is basically, work hard, play hard, basically get to retirement, it's all about leisure, go on holiday, go on a cruise, walk the beach, in, they paint this Nirvana that doesn't exist, by the way, because most people in retirement, it's health issues. It's old age. It's often loneliness. It's often disconnected from social things. Because you know, for example, for men, 80% of their social life is through work for men. So it's in retirement in one sense, there's an absurdity. And of course, the Bible says nothing of it. There's, I think there's a very random passage in the book of Numbers, directed at the Levites, which talks about them ceasing work at age 50, which a lot of people think great, I'll retire at 50. But beyond that, there's really no references to it. And so, but if we look at the New Testament, I think it's Paul that says, you know, you run your race to the end, to get the prize. And so to me, because I'm a firm believer in the idea that God has a calling out for each of us. And that will vary from person to person.
You know, I was, I was fortunate enough, you know, over 10 years ago, to come to the realization that God wanted me to teach what the Bible said about money. When I came to that realization, you know, I could, it made it easy, because I just didn't do that. And that's what I focused my time and attention on. And so I basically, why might not work, it's not about working for money, I might get to 6065 and decide I don't want to work for money. But I still keep doing my calling until the day, God calls me home. And so retirement, as I said, the reason why I do say you need to prepare for it financially, is simply the fact that firstly, the way the world works these days, you may be terminated from your employment due to redundancy, due to ill health, due to, you know, physical reality. I mean, at some point, you know, if you're a truck driver, you're probably not gonna be driving a truck at 80 years of age, because of physical reasons. So, to me, there is a there is wisdom in preparing for retirement, and having money set aside so that you're not dependent on the government, I try and say to people to be, you want to have ideally, and once again, I don't want to be too prescriptive. But ideally, have your own home, and have enough that you can support yourself first. And this will by the way, I say to people, it'll look different for everybody.
So for some people, they may, if they love it, if you love your job, and you love what you do, why on earth would you stop if that if you feel that's what God wants you to do? Why stop, maybe you just work less you work part time. For some people, they may transition out of employment into volunteer work, maybe you know, they don't need money anymore. And so they may start doing more with their local church, they may do stuff with a Christian ministries that don't We don't need to prescribe to people what it looks like, the main issue is that they prepare financially so that they're not, you know, in lack, but also that they have that perspective that actually whatever I do, I'm going to work hard for the Lord until he calls me home. So Christian, in that sense, Christians never retire. And so that's that's how I tend to come at it. Yeah, that's good.
DW: All right. So before we move into the ‘mentor minute’, is there anything else that you wanted to touch on?
AC: Trying to think if there's anything we haven't covered? Probably lots of areas we could cover. Nothing, nothing that comes straight to me. But yeah, okay.
DW: Yeah. Any, last pieces of advice? Maybe one of your top pieces of advice for people who are wanting to grow in generosity and impact more lives?
AC: Yes, I look, the thing that I see as a financial planner, because we slept with on the side of the ministry, we have a financial planning business that actually helps us fund the ministry. The common thing I see even though a lot of our clients are Christian, probably the vast majority, I would say that there's still a lack of eternal focus amongst Christians in the West. Too many of us are still living for today. We're not living for God's kingdom. As I say, God is a loving father, he does want us to enjoy the here and now as well as in, but that's not the focus. The focus is God's kingdom. You know, we're in a war. The Bible makes it very clear. We're in a war and therefore we need to direct our time and our attention to winning the war for God, then God ultimately wins as we know from Revelation right so we know we know that God wins We are in a war. And so we need to have that. he message I want to really leave people is to have an eternal perspective on your life and on your finances. So that the way you prioritize your time, your talents and your treasures, is towards building God's kingdom. The reality when you do this is your life will become so much more interesting, so much more exciting. Yes, there'll be spiritual warfare and attacks and problems, but it'll become so much richer because of it. Because you'll be focused on why you're really here.
And so to me, that's really the key message that I'd want to leave people is, you know, run your race for Jesus, steward it well for His kingdom, and you'll enjoy the rewards in eternity. And as I say, God bless you along the way, Mike sort of experiences that God has been very gracious to us, despite the challenges along the way. And despite our sinfulness and despite our mistakes, he's been amazingly good to us, despite all the problems we cause.
DW: That's really helpful. All right, let's jump into the ‘mentor minute’. So the first question is, who is the most influential person that you know? And how have they impacted you?
AC: Hmm. So I assume the answer is not Jesus here, because that's the obvious, probably the obvious one. In terms of what looking in terms of if I was to focus on our ministry and say, Who's the most influential, probably is actually a guy in America by the name Randy Alcorn. He wrote a book called I think it's money. Got it here, money, possessions and eternity. And to me, it's not say highly practical in the sense of budget or anything like that. Nor is it overly theological. It's really about a biblical worldview to money. So it's part theology part practical, but it's just very rich in a way that explains and thinks about money.
So to me, that would be one of the key people who's influenced me and influenced the way I think about money. In the ministry that we do, that would be the look, there's probably a few others. One who's deceased, Larry Burkett, who started Crowne ministries in the US. So I think those are the kinds of people were people who just really had a rich understanding of God's word, faithfully, declare it with, you know, unashamedly declare what they think it says. And I have tried to impart that to others, which is, you know, say in other words, they're, they're, I mean, they're older guys. And I'm in Larry's past, but the Randy I'm guessing his 60s or 70s. And so they're people I would look up to and hope to achieve, you know, similar things for God's kingdom, because I think they've, I think they've lived God-honoring lives. Yeah. With what with what they've done.
DW: Yeah, that's a really good. And then what book or podcast would you recommend for listeners?
AC: Yeah. So the book I've mentioned before, in fact, I've just got on the shelf here. So let me see if I can pull it up for the video. Look, there are lots of good Christian books. But this one here is this is the one I mentioned from Randy Alcorn, you can probably see it there, “Money, Possessions and Eternity”. I would certainly encourage pastors to read this, I mean, anyone will benefit any Christian will benefit from it. And as you'd say, it's quite a decent-sized read. But for pastors who are going to teach about money, this, to me is the ultimate way of basically taking what the Bible says put it into a book in a way that people can understand and understand the issues. So it's just very well, very well done. So that to me is a great book to influence how you think about money, and, and also to be aware of all the issues that you have to grapple with. So that to me is a fabulous book, for people to read. Look, there's other lots of good books. If you if you want to get more of the practical end, you know, in America, you guys have got Dave Ramsey, who's written lots of practical books about money. But certainly, to me, I like to help people get their worldview correct first, because look, at the end of the day, anyone can teach budgeting and debt management, right? Anyone can do that. It's more about getting the biblical worldview right first and getting your heart right. Because otherwise those other things are fairly irrelevant. You know, at the end of the day, you need to think right first, and then get the behavior on. Yeah, so having that biblical worldview is critical.
DW: All right, and then what's the greatest lesson in leadership that you've learned?
AC: Ooh. Be humble. I guess I'll apply this to finances. So there's a great passage, Deuteronomy 8:18. It says, Remember the Lord, for it is he who gives you the ability to produce wealth, Deuteronomy 8:18. And to me, what happens if you look in the West, in Australia and the US, as we get money, what tends to happen is we forget the Lord. So as we get more and more prosperous, we tend to wander away from God. And so I say to Christians, if you get money, if you know that God blesses you with an abundance of resources, uh, you have to be very humble, because at the end of the day, all that ability or that talent that came from God, it ain't you. You're just fortunate enough that you're the vessel that God happened to bless with these gifts and skills, etc, to gain wealth, but it's from God, and you have a responsibility to honor God with it. So we should be free. You know, you ask the question about leadership. To me, leaders need to be humble. Whether they're stewardship leaders, whether they're, you know, church leaders, whatever they are, humility is a very important quality. And you know, when we look at the west today, and I mean, I look at, you know, world leaders and politicians, some of them are just breathtakingly arrogant. When that's not the way Jesus intended for us to lead, you should leave lead with humility. So I think that that is a great one that as I say, you can apply directly to our finances, because if you're blessed with an abundance of resources, you should still be very humble with them.
DW: All right, Alex, thank you so much for coming on the show and sharing your wisdom with us. Is there anything that we can be praying for you or your family?
AC: Yeah, look, there's always things. I've got four kids. So that's plenty of challenges. But look at the big one, without ministry, well, for purpose. We've got lots of big plans for next year for events that we're planning. Once our stewardship Summit, which is aimed at pastors, we're launching another one in ideally around September called Kingdom invest, which is basically teaching Christian wealth creation, but with Kingdom impact. And so they're the big things that we really want to as a few other projects, as well, but they're the two big ones. And really, we as I say, our goal is to really teach as many people as we can, biblical wisdom with practical application. So if we can put you pray for us to achieve that vision and mission and reach as many people as we can. That'd be a great help and the grind.
DW: Let's see, let me close us out in prayer. God, I thank you so much for Alex and his family and for his ministry. Lord, I pray that you would work on our hearts that you would give us new hearts help us to think differently about money, to change our relationship with money, that we wouldn't put money first, but that we would put your kingdom first, that we would use money as a tool to advance your kingdom. I pray that You would help us to take everything that we learned here and apply it to our lives, and that we would grow closer to you. In Jesus' name, I pray. Amen.
All right, thank you so much for listening to another episode of The Kingdom Investor. We'll see you next time.
[END OF INTERVIEW]
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