A few weeks years ago, while we were in the midst of a capital fundraising campaign at our church, I ran across an interesting article from Forbes magazine — The Best Places to Get Rich. The article describes the best cities to live if your goal in life is the accumulation of wealth. So, do me a favor, take a moment and guess what city Forbes listed as the city most likely to make you rich. (Pre-current recession.)
The correct answer…is not State College. It was Madison, Wisconsin. Anybody guess Madison, Wisconsin? The combination of favorable labor conditions, inexpensive cost of living, nearby universities, made Madison Wisconsin a great place to start a successful wealth-generating business.
Now I grew up in the Midwest. I’ve traveled through Wisconsin more times than I can remember. I know Wisconsin fairly well…and my only problem with Forbes advice is that even if your business is a smashing success and you become a millionaire….you’re still living in Wisconsin!
But let’s just say you love Wisconsin. I wonder… If Jesus was a staff writer for Forbes magazine and he wrote an article entitled, “Where to Go to Get Rich” I wonder where his pen would wander? Do you think his definition of rich might be a bit different than Forbes? As someone insightfully wrote,
The paradox of our time is that we spend more, but have less. We buy more, but enjoy it less. We have bigger houses and smaller families; more convenience but less time; more medicine, but less wellness. We read too little, watch TV too much, and pray too seldom. We have multiplied our possessions, but reduced our values. …These are the days of….fancier houses, but broken homes. We’ve learned how to make a living, but not a life…
You realize that you could pick up the family and move across country to Madison Wisconsin and you could accumulate every imaginable number in your bank account — you could do all that and still miss what you are seeking — never really get rich. In the end, the true question is not so much where can we live to accumulate money, but what is the shape of true wealth?
Today I watched my son and his friends build a 100 foot slip and slide at Harvest Fields. Before the afternoon was over, their bodies were slick with soap suds — much faster than water alone — and the air was filled with laughter. Then this afternoon I met a young couple who are getting married this weekend, so much joy on their faces. Friday Lynn and I will go to Pittsburgh to help Sarah move into her new apartment. Tonight I worked on a sermon on marriage — all the while thinking what a treasure Lynn is to me. And all week I’ve been finalizing plans to spend a week with my family on vacation. And then there’s God…all of that and besides…I have God.
Now I sit here at the end of the day — and the beginning of a new one — and I can’t fathom my accumulated wealth.