Families, communities, and nations are strengthened when we teach the rising generation that choices have consequences, decisions determine destinies, and we reap what we sow. Children and youth must be taught to accept responsibility for their lives in general or they will fall into the trap of being “victims.” People who accept responsibility for themselves usually do not need much help from anyone else.
Amid all the noise about redistribution of wealth and economic equality, I found an article by Dave Ramsey to be very enlightening.
In his article entitled “20 Things the Rich Do Every Day,” Ramsey asked the question, “so what do the rich do every day that the poor don’t do?” He quoted a list first printed by Tom Corley on his website outlining a few of the differences between the habits of the rich and the poor. This list is very interesting, and it gives us much cause to think.
1. 70% of wealthy eat less than 300 junk food calories per day [while] 97% of poor people eat more than 300 junk food calories per day. 23% of wealthy gamble [while] 52% of poor people gamble.
2. 80% of wealthy are focused on accomplishing some single goal [while] only 12% of the poor do this.
3. 76% of wealthy exercise aerobically four days a week [while] 23% of poor do this.
4. 63% of wealthy listen to audio books during commute to work [while] 5% of poor people [do].
5. 81% of wealthy maintain a to-do list [while] 19% of poor [do].
6. 63% of wealthy parents make their children read two or more non-fiction books a month [while] 3% of poor [do].
7. 70% of wealthy parents make their children volunteer 10 hours or more a month [while] 3% of poor [do].
8. 80% of wealthy make Happy Birthday calls [while] 11% of poor [do].
9. 67% of wealthy write down their goals [while] 17% of poor [do].
10. 88% of wealthy read 30 minutes or more each day for education or career reasons [while] 2% of poor [do].
11. 6% of wealthy say what’s on their mind [while] 69% of poor [do].
12. 79% of wealthy network five hours or more each month [while] 16% of poor [do].
13. 67% of wealthy watch one hour or less of TV every day [while] 23% of poor [do].
14. 6% of wealthy watch reality TV [while] 78% of poor [do].
15. 44% of wealthy wake up three hours before work starts [while] 3% of poor [do].
16. 74% of wealthy teach good daily success habits to their children [while] 1% of poor [do].
17. 84% of wealthy believe good habits create opportunity luck [while] 4% of poor [do].
18. 76% of wealthy believe bad habits create detrimental luck [while] 9% of poor [do].
19. 86% of wealthy believe in lifelong educational self-improvement [while] 5% of poor [do].
20. 86% of wealthy love to read [while] 26% of poor [do].
So what can we take from the information in this list that we can teach to the rising generation? We can teach them the importance of developing good habits. We can teach them the importance of taking care of their physical bodies by eating nutritional food, exercising regularly, and getting appropriate amounts of sleep. We can teach them to love reading and learning new things. We can teach them the importance of setting appropriate goals and working towards those goals. We can teach them appropriate uses of time. We can teach them that no one owes them anything unless they work for it.
Dave Ramsey said that he had received “so much negative and ignorant response” from the first time he posted this list, that he felt he “needed to respond and teach” by adding some commentary. He stated that for the past two decades, his “company has taught people what the Bible says about money: getting on a plan...; getting out of debt…; living on less than you make…; saving money and thereby building wealth…; being generous and remembering God owns it all…. We teach living like no one else so that later you can live and GIVE like no one else. Our lessons are about getting your family under control financially so you can take care of your own household first. We also teach the importance of giving no matter where you are in the process, first with tithing and then with extraordinary generosity when you’re able. We have always taught that responsible generosity is the natural walk for a believer. Anyone who has attended our courses or read our work knows this is a fact.
“In addition to that, I have railed on things where the poor are oppressed in our culture – things like payday lending, rent-to-own, or our own government-sponsored oppression, the lottery….
“This list simply says your choices cause results. You reap what you sow….
“There is a direct correlation between your habits, choices and character in Christ and your propensity to build wealth in non-third-world settings….
“Biblically speaking, poverty is caused and perpetuated primarily by some combination of three things: 1) Personal habits, choices and character; 2) Oppression by people taking advantage of the poor; [and] 3) The myriad of problems encountered if born in a third-world economy.
“The third-world economy is and should be a whole different discussion. If you are broke or poor in the U.S. or a first-world economy, the only variable in the discussion you can personally control is YOU. You can make better choices and have better results….
“One of the main reasons our culture has prospered is because of our understanding and application of biblical truths. Bible-believing Christians believe in sowing and reaping -- what the world calls cause and effect – as well as in God’s sovereignty and providence. The scientific method you should have learned in seventh-grade science class is based on sowing and reaping (cause and effect). Bible-believing Christians understand God has called us to have an impact, to take dominion, on our environment, and logic follows that our habits, choices and character have consequences and harvests. For over 200 years, that belief system has led to life-changing industry, inventions and a standard of living never known before on this planet. This is not hate; on the contrary, it is love….”
Our nation and world need adults who know how to take care of their own needs without expecting others to do it for them. In order for adults to be responsible citizens, we must teach the rising generation how to become responsible citizens and to pay their own way. When our children and youth grow to adulthood with this understanding, then our families, communities, and nations are strengthened.