By Bo Sanchez
ONCE upon a time, I was poor.
And proud of it.
I was a happy single missionary who didn’t think about money, didn’t touch money, didn’t save money, and didn’t want to have anything to do with money. At the time, I believed that saving money was a lack of trust in God.
And businessmen? Man, I pitied them. I figured their souls were loitering on the brink of Hell. Imagine, all they thought about the whole day was money —the very instrument of the devil.
I was so poor that before entering Jollibee, I had to first pull out my wallet and count how much money I had. There were days when I had to turn around because my cash (or coins!) wasn’t enough.
I was proud that I was poor, deprived, and suffering. It somehow made me feel holy.
Love the Lord with All Your Heart, Mind, Strength
and Money Too!
Today, my beliefs have totally changed; and that’s why I’m being criticized. By religious people no less. They say I teach too much about money. “Bo, why have you changed?” they ask me. “You now keep talking about savings and investments and business. Where’s the sweet and simple guy who used to talk only about God and prayer and holiness and heaven? We want that guy back…”
Sorry, but you won’t get that guy back. Because God has changed me.
Let me tell you why I changed: I decided to love more.
Don’t get me wrong. I still preach about God and prayer and holiness and heaven. (After all, money is only one of my many topics.) But these past few years, I’ve been very burdened by the practical, down-to-earth, very REAL needs of God’s people.
Here are the facts:
- Many good families are buried in debt. They can’t sleep at night.
- Many good husbands and wives fight a lot because of money problems. (According to surveys, 50% of marital conflicts are money problems. One survey even says it’s 80%!)
- Many people will be retiring without any savings or investments — and will grow older and poorer as the years go by.
- Many people are living in poverty, and their children are suffering from poor health and poor education.
And that’s the reason why I changed: I want to help people get out of debt, solve their financial problems, and gain more financial blessings to help more people.
This is my commitment. This is my mission. This is my passion and I don’t care how many persons criticize me for it. I’ve devoted my entire life to help anyone who’s suffering by giving practical wisdom through my preaching and writing – whether spiritually, emotionally, or financially.
For Many, Unless There’s Financial Freedom,
There Can Be No Real Freedom in Their Life
Because my beliefs have changed, my financial life has changed as well. Not to brag, but to emphasize a point – I’m no longer poor.
I now run small businesses, earn through real estate, mutual funds, and the stock market. I’m now able to help the poor in a way I couldn’t before. And I’m able to give more to the ministry of the Lord because of the financial blessings He has given me. I’ve learned that when I give, I receive so much more.
I also believe that holiness doesn’t have anything to do with being poor or being rich. Holiness has everything to do with love — and one can do that whether one is poor or rich.
Money doesn’t buy happiness; Money buys freedom.
Bad people will use that freedom in a bad way — and be as miserable as hell.
Good people will use that freedom in a good way — and be as happy as heaven. To be more precise, good people will use that freedom to do good. I’s that simple.
Let me give you a small example of what I mean. Today, I no longer stop in front of Jollibee to count my money. Before, my prayer was, “Lord, I need something to eat. Please give me money.” Today, my prayer is, “Lord, send me people who have nothing to eat today and let me be a blessing to them.”
I’m using my freedom to love.
And after all these years of helping so many people in their spiritual life, I’ve come to a striking realization: especially for those children or parents depending on them, there can be no real freedom in life without financial freedom.
Wealth is measured by how grateful you are. Wealth is not primarily your cash or your houses or your cars. I believe wealth is first of all an emotion. Wealth is a feeling.
The true measure of wealth is not your money, your real estate, or your jewels. The true measure of wealth is how grateful you are. The more grateful you are, the wealthier you are. The less grateful you are, the less wealthy you are. It’s that simple.
Some 20 years ago, I was earning PHP30 a day; yet I felt so rich. Because I was so grateful for God’s blessings. Today, I feel even richer. Not just because I earn more, but because I’ve become even more grateful.
There are three levels of gratitude: Superficial, Simple, and Sacred.
Superficial Gratitude is being thankful for big-ticket items like a house, a marriage, a baby, a big business deal. Superficial gratitude is very good, but it doesn’t last very long. Recently, I read a story of a man who finally passed the bar exam after nine attempts. For those nine years, passing the bar exam was like a full time job for him. Finally, he passed it! Imagine if you were that guy, you would be very grateful, too. But soon, you’d have new problems as a lawyer. I remember my friend who finally got married at the age of 51. Imagine her joy. But eventually, new problems will come up; like marital problems.
Superficial gratitude is good, but it doesn’t last because big problems come with big blessings. You need to move to the second level of gratitude.
Simple Gratitude – I believe there’s no difference between big and small gifts from God. I once gave my mother, Pilar, a trip to the United States. Obviously, at 84 years old, she couldn’t go alone. So I had to pay for my sister to go with her, too. So it was a big, expensive gift. But I give Mom small gifts, too. Like every two weeks, I take her out on a date. I don’t really spend much on those dates — just a simple restaurant meal and that’s it. But if you ask my mother, “Tita Pilar, what gift do you most appreciate from Bo — your US trip or your dates with him?” — I’m sure she’ll say, “Both. I love them both. They’re equal in my eyes.”
Here’s what I learned: When it comes to love, there’s no such thing as a small gift.
How about daily food? Is that a small gift or a big gift? I was very touched when my friend Dave Quintana shared this with me. He’s an American missionary who worked among the poorest of the poor in Payatas, Quezon City. One day, he met a little boy there, working in the garbage dump. He befriended him and asked him, “What’s your favorite food?” For a few seconds, the boy didn’t answer. The question was totally foreign to him. He finally said, “Yung pagkain na hindi bulok.”
Food that isn’t spoiled. That was his favorite food.
Now tell me: Is your daily food a small gift or big gift? But even Simple Gratitude is not the deepest form of gratitude.
Sacred Gratitude – The deepest gratitude is Sacred Gratitude. The Bible says: be thankful in all circumstances. This gratitude is no longer tied to circumstances. You’re no longer attached to circumstances or outcomes or results. Because no matter what happens, you believe that God will work for your good. If you have Sacred Gratitude, you’re always thankful. You’re thankful for life, for love, for God, for happiness.You’re thankful because you exist. At this point, gratitude is no longer something that you do. Gratitude is who you are. If you have Sacred Gratitude, you become one of the wealthiest persons in the world.
So, is Money Not Wealth?
Money without gratitude isn’t wealth. It’s poverty. But gratitude with money is true wealth.
Here’s why gratitude is the true measure of wealth: Gratitude is a special magnet. It attracts whatever you’re grateful for.
When I’m grateful for the love in my life, I attract more of it. My relationships get deeper. My friendships become stronger.
When I’m grateful for money, I attract more money. The right people come into my life. Doors open before me. Opportunities fall at my feet.