A few years back my wife and I started looking at ways to make more money. We had no income to speak of outside our two jobs, and from a financial-stability perspective it is wise to have multiple sources of income, thereby reducing risk if any of those income sources dries up. We had discussed trying to buy and rent or flip houses, but the amount of startup capital we needed for even a down payment was at the limit of what we could afford, leaving no money to do repairs and no cushion to account for risk. In other words, there was no safe way to start out in real estate. Getting another job for either of us didn’t seem practical, as no one ever got rich off of working multiple jobs, and we were looking to add extra streams of income, not temporary extra employment. We had a couple of potential business ideas, any of which might have worked, but as I prayed about it I felt God bring my remembrance back to a passage in 2 Kings.
The wife of a man from the company of the prophets cried out to Elisha, “Your servant my husband is dead, and you know that he revered the Lord. But now his creditor is coming to take my two boys as his slaves.”
Elisha replied to her, “How can I help you? Tell me, what do you have in your house?”
“Your servant has nothing there at all,” she said, “except a small jar of olive oil.”
Elisha said, “Go around and ask all your neighbors for empty jars. Don’t ask for just a few. Then go inside and shut the door behind you and your sons. Pour oil into all the jars, and as each is filled, put it to one side.”
She left him and shut the door behind her and her sons. They brought the jars to her and she kept pouring. When all the jars were full, she said to her son, “Bring me another one.”
But he replied, “There is not a jar left.” Then the oil stopped flowing.
She went and told the man of God, and he said, “Go, sell the oil and pay your debts. You and your sons can live on what is left.” 2 Kings 4:1-7 (NIV)
God gave me a window into His wisdom to solve financial problems, not just for my wife and I, but for people as a whole. In this story, when the woman went to the prophet, in that culture it was the equivalent of talking directly to God, as the prophet was God’s oracle. God’s response in that situation was “What is at hand? What is currently available to you? What skills and resources do you currently have at your disposal, because that is what I plan to use to solve your problem.”
In Matthew 15:29-29 Jesus is on a mountainside near the Sea of Galilee and speaks to 4,000 men and their families. When it comes time to eat Jesus doesn’t send them away, fearing for their health. Instead he turned to the disciples and asked, “How many loaves do you have?” The question Jesus asked here is much the same as the question God was asking through Elisha in 2 Kings. God wanted to know what they had on-hand so He could fix it! Not only that, but God isn’t interested in just solving your problem–he wants to do one better and solve your future problems!
This is how God has done things all along. He said something similar to the Israelites too. In Deuteronomy 8:18 it says “But remember the Lord your God, for it is he who gives you the ability to produce wealth, and so it confirms his covenant, which he swore to your ancestors, as it is today. [emphasis mine]” God wants to give us the ability to produce wealth, not just the ability to pray for a solution to the current problem. One of a few determining factors in me deciding to become an author was financial–a book serves as a source of ongoing residual income via royalties that according to copyright laws lasts a lifetime–and seventy years beyond. In other words, by writing books I wouldn’t just be creating income for myself, but potential income for my grandchildren!
Finances weren’t the only deciding factor, as I have planned to publish books since I was 14, and I have a great many things to say I believe the world needs to hear. However, finances did play a part in the decision to begin with writing and move to other income streams later. I figured with the money obtained from book sales I could invest in real estate and pay a management company to run the rentals, thereby freeing my time to continue writing and doing other things. The long-term plan is to take the profit from the above sources and invest further for Kingdom pursuits. I believe God is opening up a new ministry model which involves us doing the things we feel led to do because God has given us the resources, not because we are beholden to everyone else to meet the need. To do this, we have to start somewhere.
I recently had a conversation with a mom who wants to stay at home with her kids but also needs to make money. I suggested a few things but one was something she had on-hand, which in this case was also book-writing. I’m not saying everyone should be an author, but some people have an ability to communicate in written form and it can be both a ministry and a business. I have friends who are fantastic at construction, and they would be fantastic with rentals and house-flipping. I know someone else who is gifted with music and has produced CDs, but isn’t currently trying to market and sell them. While in each case it looks different, the common theme is that they each have something God has given them, and I believe this is a means to an end–the power to get wealth.
For those who struggle financially, or who work a job and aren’t seeing the long-term payoff they desire, who want to reduce financial risk, or just want to provide something for their children or grandchildren, be encouraged–God is 100% behind you on this! Take some time to think and pray about it. As yourself questions: What are your life goals and dreams? How much money will it take to accomplish them? What financial goals do you need to set to make that possible? What abilities has God given you? How can those skills be turned into a product or service that will produce income? How plausible are those ideas? How do they compare with the other abilities and options God has given you? What do you sense God is blessing the most right now?
Once you answer the above questions, I believe you will have a clearer picture of how God wants to bless you financially through the abilities He has already given you. Keep in mind that at the end of the day any product or service of quality is ultimately going to help other people. It doesn’t have to look spiritual, but according to the passages I shared earlier, making money is very spiritual, and there are a myriad of benefits from taking God up on His advice. I encourage you to set aside some time, whether now or in the future, to ponder your life goals and dreams, and how you plan to accomplish them. God may just surprise you with ideas when you start to look at things from His perspective. Have a blessed day!