In America’s consumer culture, we’re constantly bombarded with messages and opportunities to acquire more. But at NCF, we work with many givers who’ve sought to combat the temptation of materialism by adopting the concept of a “financial finish line.”
These individuals have set limits on their wealth by capping their lifestyle at a certain amount.
One wise giver told us once, “It’s essential to decide what your financial finish line is in advance because, as your wealth increases, so do the endless ways to spend, save, or invest it. If you don’t have your commitment in place, you may find your finish line gets pushed further and further away as you make more money.”
These givers demonstrate how this important concept can make a significant impact:
- During his life, Christian author and one of NCF’s founders, Larry Burkett, set a modest standard of living and gave away the rest. One year before he passed away, Larry experienced an unexpected upturn in his income when his book sales became strong. He was thrilled to give away $800,000, and he was able to do so with no hesitation, because he set his finish line well in advance.
- Alan Barnhart decided early in life to set a financial finish line. He and his brother, Eric, made a promise to one another to cap their earnings and adopt modest lifestyles when they started their business, Barnhart Crane and Rigging. The company grew exponentially over the years to the point that they were able to give away $1 million a month. With the help of NCF, Alan eventually gave away the entire business valued at several hundred million dollars. Alan and his family are thankful for the decision they made long ago, “Even though there are some things that we have given up, we’ve given up none of the good stuff. And we have saved ourselves all the energy it takes to accumulate.”
- Another perspective comes from Casey Crawford, CEO of Movement Mortgage, near Charlotte, North Carolina. He explains his finish line this way: “When I started my business, I really felt like God said to me, make it be about my Kingdom, not yours … Provide for your family, but the profits of your company need to be invested in growing God’s kingdom around the world.” Over the years, Casey’s company has become one of the fastest-growing mortgage businesses in the country. He has been able to give away more than $26 million to charity through the company’s Movement Foundation.
For these givers and others, setting a finish line was one of the most important keys to developing a lifestyle of purpose, peace, and generosity. Their lives demonstrate that maybe instead of asking how much is enough to keep, the best question is, “How generous do I want to be?”