Four Levels of Time Wealth
This week I am going to share with you one of my foundational thoughts which has guided my life. Let me start by giving a big picture of the fruit that this thought has produced for me.
I am currently thirty years old. I graduated at 16, earned the National Herald of Christ award at 18, earned a Masters in Biblical Studies by 21, started my own construction business at 22, was on staff for Randy Clark at 25, published a bestselling book when I was 26, have written 4 more books in the last four years, filmed a reality show when I was 29, and am launching a Bible School this year at the age of thirty.
Here is a foundational thought that informs my approach to life: “Time is an un-renewable currency.”
Too ethereal? Ok, I will explain.
All cultures and societies have currency, whether it is paper money or a barter/exchange system, at the root of it all is time.
Time-Wealth is the term I use to refer to the value I put upon the currency of time. The human interaction with Time-Wealth creation falls into the following four categories.
SELLING YOUR TIME
This is the basic level in all cultures. Before one can buy something or barter for something, they must have something to exchange, whether that is paper money or a goat, they must have a currency, which represents their time. For example, when a sixteen year old wants to buy a $1000 car to get around town, typically he must get an hourly job, let’s say that he gets $10 a hour, the hours of his life are bought from him, and he is selling the only un-renewable resource, his time. So for 100 hours of his time, he can buy a car. This is the system that a majority of the world’s population lives inside of, more or less. Essentially, even if you are paid $50 an hour, you are simply selling your time at a better rate, but perhaps you will have to sell less of it to survive. The bad part about this is that you cannot get more time, but you can always get more money. Time is un-renewable.
SELLING YOUR KNOWLEDGE
The next level of currency exchange, is investing your time into building up a base of knowledge. This knowledge then can be sold at a much higher rate than selling your time directly. For example, this would be a lawyer, author, doctor, mechanic, etc., essentially all specialized knowledge. Now rather than people buying your time, they are buying your knowledge. This affords the possibility of much more freedom and time retention. Especially as technology has created avenues for disseminating that knowledge for sale without much time being involved, i.e. selling an audiobook requires no extra time once it is created and posted online. On the downside, once inside of this system, it can be hard to find a way out because the specialized knowledge is contained within the individual. This means that the doctor has to be in the office being a doctor, he/she can’t delegate this.
This level can provide a lot more time and freedom for the individual that is living in the knowledge level. By finding a way to create a system where paper money begets more paper money, this creates Time-Wealth because the money is making more of itself without time being used to create it.
This can be through the obvious options such as buying stocks or starting a business. What holds many people back from stepping into this level is the fear of loss. Perhaps the doctor is comfortable selling his knowledge, why risk it by expanding his practice, bringing in extra doctors and freeing up all his time? He could get embroiled in a lawsuit because of someone he partnered with; there are too many risks! Perhaps the stock will fall, or the business will fail, these are the concerns that keep people living in the knowledge level.
For those that overcome the fear and launch out into the Investment level, this can at times pay off very well and create immense Time-Wealth and personal freedom, this gets carried over to the next generation.
The fourth level only comes because someone previous has gone through the first three levels, then they have passed the investments to the next generation without that generation having to go through the first three levels themselves.
When the sixteen year old is given a $10,000 car as a birthday present from his parents, he doesn’t have to sell 1000 hours to buy that car, he doesn’t yet have any special knowledge to sell and he has no investments. Yet his parents have given him a car worth $10,000, which is a form of Time-Wealth in a few respects.
Owning a $10k car means that one will not have to get it repaired all the time, it means it may last 12 years rather than having to be replaced in one year, it means that the son could sell the car for $10k and receive a revenue equivalent to 1000 hours of his time, he could then take that $10k and invest half of it to create even more wealth and buy a car with the remaining $5k.
Ok, so what’s the point of understanding all this? Jon, shouldn’t you spend all your time blogging only about “spiritual” things, not about money?
To separate money from one’s spiritual life is ignorant because money is simply a representation of our time and how we spend our time is very spiritual indeed!
When an offering plate is being passed at church, by throwing in a $10 bill, an hour of work is represented. Time is represented by money.
This has vast implications.
For me, when I came to see time and money through this lens at a young age, it produced in me a high value for time.
One of the biggest implications is how we treat the practical eschatology of our daily lives. For the Christian that believes Jesus could return in the next ten years, there is absolutely no motivation to move from hourly to knowledge to investments and then inheritance. Why go to college to get specialized knowledge, because “Jesus will return before I graduate.”
Many churches do not invest wisely because it is “too worldly” so we end up with churches that are always on the brink of bankruptcy and can hardly finish a building project, while humanistic campuses seem to have no problem expanding.
Our perspective has become altogether shortsighted and is not able to gain momentum. I propose that in our generation, we must move to the third level of Investment, so that we can actually give the next generation an Inheritance.
If what I am suggesting were to be implemented, it might look like this: Pastors would have investments (businesses, etc), which would pay their salary, so they could preach the truth without hesitation over what is “politically correct” or what may disturb parishioners. The church building and building projects would be paid for, which would create the freedom for the congregation to give money which could go to feeding, clothing and ending poverty and disease around the world (rather than to buildings, staff or overhead). Christians would value education and get the knowledge and training needed to actually impact the world around them in the short time they have during this life.
If we are going to advance the Kingdom of God, we must think as kings. Kings don’t sell their time, knowledge, or investments; they operate by inheritance.
Good kings think about building cities, about the physical health of the people in their kingdom, about the sick, needy, and impoverished. They are not simply hoping for an escape through the rapture or living in fear of Nicolae Carpathia.
The Apostle Paul said we are to “Reign in life” (Rom. 5:17). We must move to king thinking and have the utmost value for time.
The reason that I get things done, is because of the tremendous value that I put upon time, and by seeing it as un-renewable, so it shouldn’t be wasted, but it should be enjoyed and spend wisely.
PS. Regarding bad eschatology, “ain’t nobody got time for that!”