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Daddy, Are We Rich?

This week we drove through an affluent neighborhood and Seth, age five, asked if we are rich like the people who own these “fat houses.” By “fat houses,” Seth did not mean the 90’s slang “phatt houses,” but rather was commenting about the sprawling square footage that was, in his mind, rather wide. I responded to him by letting him know that we are blessed in that our needs are met, and that I had no idea how our income compared to the people who owned these homes. I told him plenty of people who have fancy cars and fat houses are a paycheck away from losing it all. At this point, Seri, age 10, called me out: “Come on Dad, these people are clearly wealthy. Their houses are way bigger than our house.”

My kids breathe free-market, American capitalist air. They’re marketed to all day long; success is defined for them in terms of square footage, sports cars, and desirable gadgets. I’m trying to redirect their attention from success to abundance.

My Jewish friends define abundance not in terms of having more than you need, but rather as living in the flow—being in touch with how resources come into your life, stewarding them well, sharing them appropriately, and living with awareness that all this is from God. Abundance has more to do with awareness than amounts, a spacious and grateful heart over and above a fat house.

When you’re living in the flow, experiencing an abundant life, the question is not “How big is your house?” but rather “How expansive is your heart?” Then, your heart and treasure can come into alignment in a good and godly way, or as Jesus put it, where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

Tommy Brown

Tommy Brown is a writer, speaker, and develops strategies that support financial development. He and his wife Elizabeth live in Winston-Salem, NC along with their children Seri and Seth. He served in leadership at two churches as an ordained minister from 2001-2014, leading congregations into financial wellbeing and a holistic approach to integrating faith and finances. Tommy has a B.A. in Pastoral Ministry and Masters degrees in Divinity and Management. His entrepreneurial endeavors over the years have extended into real estate development and church consulting on stewardship matters. Now, Thomas works alongside an award-winning team of storytellers at Wake Forest University, performing strategic planning and project development for initiatives that fund the university¹s $1,000,000,000 capital campaign. Thomas was instrumental in forming Wake Forest University's financial wellbeing initiative. He has a heart for seeing churches, students, and people of faith form connections between faith and finances.

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