Wanna be a wealthy idiot?

The name Nasrudin is used as the mythical character in a tradition of Sufi tales.  Here’s one:

Nasrudin used to stand in the street on market days, to be pointed out as an idiot.  No matter how often people offered him a large or a small coin, he always chose the smaller piece.

One day a kindly man said to him, “Mulla, you should take the bigger coin.  Then you will have money and people will no longer be able to make a laughingstock of you.”

“That might be true,” said Nasrudin, “but if I always take the larger coin, people will stop offering me money to prove that I am more idiotic than they are.  Then I would have no money at all.”

Sometimes the most obvious solution really isn’t the best one.  You might assume that the best way to grow your business is to get more customers – it may in fact be more profitable to reduce your number of customers and charge them more.  Here in Nashville a doctor just reduced his 3,000 person client list to 300 “invited guests,” each of which he charges $2000 annually to be his patient.  He is their “concierge doctor” – and he locks in a $600,000 annual income with minimal office expense.

We all “know” that “winners never quit, and quitters never win.”  But is that really true?  How does that work with smokers?  Or with people who have taken a wrong turn on the freeway?  What if you have been in business for a year and still haven’t made any money?  What if your retirement funds have suddenly been shown to be worthless?

20 years ago this month I suffered through a devastating business crash.  I scrambled to find solutions for both the emotional pain and embarrassment as well as the financial disaster I had experienced.  My logical mind raced to find ideas where I could make money quickly to address the screaming creditors and the ongoing needs of my family.

Yet one of the “solutions” defied all normal approaches.  In reading the book of Proverbs each day – the chapter that correlated to the day of the month (31 chapters) – I began to see timeless principles that I had repeatedly violated in my previous attempts at financial success and I also discovered some counterintuitive keys for increasing my bank account once again.

I learned that wisdom is more valuable than gold or silver.  But that seeking wisdom will ultimately bring gold and silver on the back side anyway.  Here’s what it says in Proverbs 3: 13-17

“God blesses everyone who has wisdom and common sense. Wisdom is worth more than silver; it makes you much richer than gold.  Wisdom is more valuable than precious jewels; nothing you want compares with her.  In her right hand Wisdom holds a long life, and in her left hand are wealth and honor. Wisdom makes life pleasant and leads us safely along.”

 The dictionary defines “wisdom” as “The ability to discern or judge what is true, right, or lasting; insight.”   How are you doing with “wisdom” in these days when stocks, real estate, and mortgages may turn out to be worthless?  Are you increasing your “wisdom portfolio” and assuring that you will be wealthy in the coming years?

 One of the evidences of “wisdom” is finding that authentic fit for how God wired us.  Many years ago I met Dave Anderson, the founder of Famous Dave’s restaurants.  He told me that as a young American Indian kid he had wanted to be rich, but in chasing money it always seemed to be just out of reach.  When he finally gave up on getting money and just resigned himself to doing what he loved to do, (making great barbeque) the money showed up in lots of unexpected ways.  Among other things Dave founded The Life Center for Leadership with a $1.4 million gift.

Maybe you’re chasing the wrong thing.  Give up on getting rich — try getting “wisdom” and see where it leads you.

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15 Responses to “Wanna be a wealthy idiot?”

  1. Tom Schindler Says:

    Great article! I’m working on finishing up my website, actually Elias Salem is, and the base principle for what I believe God has empassioned me, the advantage to planning, is found in Prov. 21:5 and is part of the wisdom literature of the Bible. I would just say “Amen” to your article on Wisdom and thank you for the challenge. So many people pursue everything else and are disappointed.

  2. Ray Says:

    Brilliantly put! The dreams of money will only keep you dreaming of more. Contentment in what you have and wisdom in what He has given you to do bring far greater wealth than money can afford. Thanks again for the words of wisdom.

  3. carson Says:

    great stuff-profound and simple. i suspect that was 1 reason why the 1st thing god brought into excistence was wisdom. this can be verified in proverbs chapter 8.

  4. Oscar Mata Says:

    Dear Dan,
    I have found very important your article in regard of what the world is going through. Your comments have positively impacted my vision of asuming responsabilities.
    Let me tell you that there have been people who were in many world events and who addressed actions taken to “solve” situations. These people from who have made millions of dollars, power, and cheated are called sometimes to hold a “wisdom” or lucky born rich ones.
    I believe the economic problems were created by people who are not interested in helping menkind. These problems were created before in many ways such as wars, politicians careers, projected plans, manipulated chemestry products, and others that are very ovious by people who are not interested in helping menkind as I previously mentioned.
    I wonder if they believe in the Bible Proverbs and your recommendations. My duty is that I am working hard to be aware of these situations and help people with disability learning problems.
    Can these guys help menkind to live better by not abusing of others? I hope they can in the future, however, they need a change in their attitudes.

  5. Philip Z C Says:

    Dan, really simple and profound. i read the regularly and had forgotten the simple truths of Soloman in Proverbs. I too live in BG and have had some real estate investments take me south over the last two years. They are close to breaking me. I am going to turn back to Proverbs and let God teach me again how to make wise decisions…thanks for the reminder!

  6. Ann Musico Says:

    At last – the kind of information that resonates with my spirit!! Getting down to the basics – our foundation – built on the wisdom of God’s word – will empower us to succeed physically, financially, emotionally and every other way. Thank you for expressing it so beautifully!

  7. Ray Barkman Says:

    Thanks again Dan…for your words of wisdom ; as they relate to the book of Proverbs. I look forward to getting into seeking wisdom as the bible teaches us!!

  8. Jay Peroni Says:


    You are so dead on here! Solomon prayed for wisdom and he became one of the wealthiest people to ever live. It is estimated that if you took all the wealth in the world and redistributed it evenly among all the people in the world, the rich would regain their wealth and the poor would revert back to being poor. Why? The rich think differently than the poor (wisdom). Look at Donald Trump: millionaire to bankrupt to billionaire.

    After dealing with faith-based millionaires for the last 14 years, I have found that most of those who possess both faith and wealth share twelve essential habits. I wrote about this in The Faith-Based Millionaire. By following God’s wisdom, sticking to His principles, and honoring Him with your life, you can live live abundantly! Thanks for the great reminder Dan!

    Jay Peroni, CFP
    Author of The Faith-Based Millionaire

  9. Rick Murphy Says:

    Hi Dan,
    Great article and so true! I was wondering if you would provide the contact information of the doctor in Nashville you mentioned. I, too, began to put together a ‘concierge’ practice but there are some legal issues that have to be addressed and I would like to know how the Nashville Doc. handled them. Thanks in advance

    Dr. Rick Murphy

  10. 48days Says:

    Dr. Murphy,
    The idea of a concierge doctor comes from several I’ve encountered recently. But here’s one right here in my town — Franklin, TN. Dr. Charles Marable — http://sublimecare.com/home.php Marable Personal Healthcare. Hope that helps you with your own direction.


    Hi Dan!

    I would like that you tell me how do you get out of your crisis 20 years ago because I’m in a economical crisis now.

  12. Gail Says:

    Hi Dan,

    I’m a little late catching up on your article here…I recently went through some very tough financial times myself, eventually deciding to leave corporate America, stop fighting my home going to foreclosure, filing bankruptcy and completely starting over. Although these decisions were difficult, especially from a pride standpoint, I’m learning that sometimes God takes things away from us, so that we can see what’s really important.
    I ended up finding a line of personal development products that are changing my life (see: http://www.libertyleague.com/gailknop) while I’m helping others. I am now working in 2 seasonal entrepreneurial arenas–Innkeeping in the summers on Lake Michigan and Tax Preparation in the winters, and I’m proud to say that next week I am starting my PhD education. I’m not sure yet where all these roads will lead. I do know I finally have a high level of balance and peace of mind, and I’m learning, growing and having fun EVERY DAY. I finally “get it” about doing what I love, and I am confident the money will follow.

  13. Yonan Says:

    just had a chance to respond

    your constant encouragement to us of God’s faithfulness in our times of struggle is so needed. Thank You

    It’s been over a year for me since I lost a well paying job in the NFP sector
    of my own making I ran because I did’nt want to deal with all the critisum and deal with accusations that just kept geting larger and more personal.
    right or wrong I left now a year later I struggle to make a living to support my family,
    But God has been with my family and we have incured minimual debt from being out of work for the first 6 months after leaving that job. I share this with you and other to let all know even though at tthis time I am not living my dream or close to it. Our God has provided my family shelter, food on the table, and health during this time.
    I praise Him for this, even if this is as good as it gets, but as it’s states in Proverbs and Christ Himself has told us “How much more will your Father in heaven give to those that are His” would the worldly father give his child a stone if the child asks for bread NOT likley, so my hope is in HIS Promises to us that He gave us in His Word.
    Keep giving!!!!

  14. Kathleen - Nairobi, Kenya Says:

    I totally agree with you. You have hit the nail in the right place in the head !! And Thank God that we are able to re-start our lives and that His book is able to give us all the knowledge with need to succed in life. I am going to use wisdom to expand my business – Financial Planning

  15. greatchristianmovies.com Says:

    That’s wise words Dan. Thanks.


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