No. 58

The other day I asked my wife if she could stand prosperity and she said, "I don't know, but I sure would like to try!" My response was, "Yeah, you and several million other people." The Roman philosopher, Cicero, once said, 'Prosperity is when the stream of life flows according to our wishes." Using the vernacular of our day, we might express it this way: The person who experiences prosperity has the world by the tail on a downhill drag." In our modern culture, however, when we think of someone who is prosperous, we usually think of someone who has a lot of money.
Now, I would like to ask you the same question I asked my wife: Can you stand prosperity? If you are fortunate and already have a lot of money, then you probably know the answer to this question, but if you don't, you may want to think about this for a while. I think it's important to understand that we are already rich as a people, because our nation has experienced unparalleled prosperity in the history of the world. The point I want to make here is that all too often money changes people. It shouldn't, but it does. There are a few people who can handle it, but they are rare.
Have you ever been around someone who didn't have a dime and because of luck or a rich uncle dying or something like that, they came into a lot of money overnight and suddenly they got too good for their friends? As the old saying goes: You couldn't touch their rear with a ten foot pole. Unfortunately there are lots of young people who were fortunate enough to be born to rich parents who have the same attitude.
The people I know who are truly prosperous and have it all together are those who understand that money is just a medium of exchange and it comes from rendering valuable service. Instead of being arrogant or big headed, these people are humble and grateful that America has provided the opportunity for them to become financially successful. I believe I'm safe in saying that the big difference is whether a person has made their wealth slowly, over a long period of time or have come into it overnight. To those who acquire instant wealth, I'd simply say there is a rule of thumb you might consider here: "Easy come, easy go." While we can go to nicer places and have nicer things, our money should not change us, as a person.
Another consideration here is that the acquisition of a great deal of money does not necessarily produce happiness. I saw a great example of this in the paper a while back. A man in another state had won a big lottery jackpot a few years ago and according to him, that's when his troubles really began. He had gotten his first installment and his family and new found friends had helped him spend it quickly. But he didn't stop there; at the time of the article, he was deep in debt, as he had been spending considerably more than his yearly installments from his lottery winnings. The man was just plain miserable and he was trying to sell his future jackpot lottery installments and pay off his debts and go back to the way things were before he won.
To be sure, here was a man who could not stand prosperity. In the event you do not already have a lot of money, since you began to read this column, have you thought about whether or not you could stand prosperity? When it comes to my own personal situation, I'm kinda like my wife; I don't know if I could handle it or not, but I sure would like to try. I'm convinced, however, that God does not bless many of us with too much prosperity, because He knows we can't handle it. (EDITOR'S NOTE: Jim Davidson is a motivational speaker and syndicated columnist. You may contact him at 2 Bentley Drive, Conway, AR 72034.)