Tom Corley, on his website RichHabitsInstitute.com, outlines a few of the differences between the habits of the rich and the poor.
1. 70% of wealthy eat less than 300 junk food calories per day. 97% of poor people eat more than 300 junk food calories per day. 23% of wealthy gamble. 52% of poor people gamble.
2. 80% of wealthy are focused on accomplishing some single goal. Only 12% of the poor do this.
3. 76% of wealthy exercise aerobically four days a week. 23% of poor do this.
4. 63% of wealthy listen to audio books during commute to work vs. 5% of poor people.
5. 81% of wealthy maintain a to-do list vs. 19% of poor.
6. 63% of wealthy parents make their children read two or more non-fiction books a month vs. 3% of poor.
7. 70% of wealthy parents make their children volunteer 10 hours or more a month vs. 3% of poor.
8. 80% of wealthy make Happy Birthday calls vs. 11% of poor.
9. 67% of wealthy write down their goals vs. 17% of poor.
10. 88% of wealthy read 30 minutes or more each day for education or career reasons vs. 2% of poor.
11. 6% of wealthy say what’s on their mind vs. 69% of poor.
12. 79% of wealthy network five hours or more each month vs. 16% of poor.
13. 67% of wealthy watch one hour or less of TV every day vs. 23% of poor.
14. 6% of wealthy watch reality TV vs. 78% of poor.
15. 44% of wealthy wake up three hours before work starts vs. 3% of poor.
16. 74% of wealthy teach good daily success habits to their children vs. 1% of poor.
17. 84% of wealthy believe good habits create opportunity luck vs. 4% of poor.
18. 76% of wealthy believe bad habits create detrimental luck vs. 9% of poor.
19. 86% of wealthy believe in lifelong educational self-improvement vs. 5% of poor.
20. 86% of wealthy love to read vs. 26% of poor.
Over the last two decades, my company has taught people what the Bible says about money: getting on a plan … in the Bible; getting out of debt … in the Bible; living on less than you make … in the Bible; saving money and thereby building wealth … in the Bible; being generous and remembering God owns it all … in the Bible. 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.
Because of this, I am amazed at how many of my brothers and sisters in Christ have attacked us because of a simple list posted on our website. Maybe it shouldn’t amaze me in our Twitter culture—where immature people now study, reflect, research and communicate in only 140 characters—yet it still does. The piece in question is a simple list outlining the habits of the poor versus the habits of the rich. It could just as easily have been a different list of the habits of the obese versus the habits of the physically fit.
What saddens me is that some members of our culture are so doctrinally shallow and so spiritually immature that the reaction was often rude, inappropriate or outright abusive. This reaction is sad because it’s focused only on this one little list, not on our body of work. When you actually bother to look into what we teach, you find generosity and grace taught throughout. This reaction is sad because it’s not even a reflection of what that little list actually says. This reaction is sad because it is a reflection of how politicized, immature and doctrinally ignorant some members of our Christian culture are.
This list simply says your choices cause results. You reap what you sow. Is the research perfect? No. It is a small sample, but it does pass the common-sense smell test. Does this research or the reason for posting it have anything to do with third-world countries? No. Anyone with good walking-around sense can see that this is a first-world discussion. Is this list a way of hating the poor? Seriously? Grow up.
There is a direct correlation between your habits, choices and character in Christ and your propensity to build wealth in non-third-world settings. To dispute that or attribute hate to that statement is immature and ignorant. To assume that our ministry hates the poor is ludicrous and is a reflection more on you than on our work or our beliefs.
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;
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. If you believe that our economy and culture in the U.S. are so broken that making better choices does not produce better results, then you have a problem. At that point your liberal ideology has left the Scriptures and your politics have caused you to become a fatalist.
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.
My wife and I started our lives with almost nothing, eating off a card table and driving two cars that did not total $2,000 in value. We were broke, but we did not believe that was our destiny. Over the next several years, we grew a real estate fortune, but lost all of that due to bad decisions and choices. And yes, it was all my fault. I was scared, beat up, beat down, and worn out with two small children and a marriage hanging on by a thread. But the Bible doesn’t say I’m a victim; God’s Word says I am a child of the King. So we began the long process of rebuilding our lives twenty-five years ago. God has blessed our efforts and we have done well, and for that I am incredibly grateful and humbled.
Despite these blessings, there are others who have far more than I do. The talents and treasures on this earth are not distributed equally, and that is not fair—or is it? God has chosen to give most of you better hair than me, to make Tiger Woods a better golfer than me, to make Brad Paisley a better guitarist than me, and to make Max Lucado a better writer than me. With God’s grace, I am fine with that. I am not angry at them, and I don’t think they have done something wrong by becoming successful. As I’ve matured, I’ve come to realize that God is indeed fair, but fair does not mean equal.