Michael Youssef - The Truth About Money
Lorna Dueck: Dr. Youssef, you have challenged us with Nehemiah that he was a man of sacrifice.
Dr. Michael Youssef: Yes.
Lorna Dueck: He knew that if something is worth doing, put your grit into it. Tell me about that. Tell me about what kind of commitment he was looking at here.
Dr. Michael Youssef: Sure, you know, I always tell people when I'm challenging 'em to support the work of God, anywhere, whether ministries I'm involved or other ministries, I say, "I'm not asking you to do anything that I am not personally doing". And the one thing the Lord taught me 30 years ago very clearly, and this was one of my failings, I used to say to God, "Well, God, look, I'm giving you my life. I'm full time serving you. I don't need to tithe and I don't need to give offering on top of that. Offerings". And I got away with the rationalizing for awhile, and then one time in the presence of God and he said, "Youssef, put the cash in there".
Lorna Dueck: Wow.
Dr. Michael Youssef: And that was a transforming time for my life. Then I read a survey that said doctors and pastors do not tithe simply because they say, "Well, I'm doing good. I'm serving people. I don't need to give money". And so, what began with a challenge from the Holy Spirit to me is that I have to sacrifice personally, not just time and...
Lorna Dueck: Stress.
Dr. Michael Youssef: But money that is... and when you read about how much Nehemiah was spending and never took money from the people, just to kind of feed the leaders in order to keep them focused, that was all personal. And so, without me personally sacrificing, I cannot get up in the pulpit and tell people, "You need to sacrifice".
Lorna Dueck: Money is a big part of... I mean, like, it just adds so much stress to our life if it's not right. You've taken a hard look here and a hard challenge to us in your book on how we should be handling our personal finances. What do you think our biggest stumbling block is when it comes to our finances?
Dr. Michael Youssef: Well, you have to remember, this is the number one, money is the number one rival to Jesus, and he said that, so I'm not making this stuff up. Jesus said you can't serve two masters, meaning I gotta, "There's a master who's competing with me. I'm either gonna be the master or money's gonna be your master. You can't serve both". And so, once you realize that, "This is not a mater, this is a slave. And he's gonna work for me, I don't work for him," I think mentally, emotionally, spiritually, that is really halfway there.
Lorna Dueck: How do you feel about debt, personal debt?
Dr. Michael Youssef: Well, there's some debts, like a mortgage and a house. I mean, nobody can... you know, that's... but for people to go and blow money on frivolous things and accumulate credit card debts because they want to get more, and more, and more, that's a sin. I mean, it's just not right, because we have to live within our means. Now, I drove my four kids crazy and I'm hoping to drive my eight grandchildren crazy because I'm always saying, "Live within your means". Don't go out and borrow money or load the credit card that you can't pay it at the end of the money. I think it's part of our stewardship. It's part of that living for Christ, being a model, a role model for people, and for children, and grandchildren. It's that, you know, a mortgage on the house, it's a wise investment, but I'm talking about the things that we buy we don't need.
Lorna Dueck: In the book of Nehemiah, you make us pause when it comes to the point about the usury that was going on amongst the people of Israel. What's the lesson that we need to learn there?
Dr. Michael Youssef: I think one of the things that I try to do personally is if somebody wants me to lend them money, I don't. I give them the money. And I think we are not supposed to go and lend people. If they want to borrow money, go to the bank. But if they want to ask for money, you give it to them. You don't lend. I think because it's a temptation. That's not against investments and being involved in a business. I think that's very different. But I think among Christians and particularly Christian families, we need to avoid this lending for profit, because we belong to the family of God and the Bible makes it clear, particularly in the Psalms, that you know, and then the Scripture said, "God loves a cheerful giver". And I mean, that doesn't mean that God doesn't love everybody equally, as I studied it, it means that God has a soft spot for the generous giver, that he really does. Look at Cornelius. He became the very first Gentile convert to Christ, why? Because of his generosity. Those things are not missed on God. He watches. He watches, sees how we're managing our money. He watches, sees how we're sacrificing, giving to others who are in need and to ministries that are need to take the gospel around the world. And so, it is very, very important that we get our affairs in order in order to experience the blessings of God. I can tell you truthfully, and I have accountability folks around me all the time, look at my tax returns. I'm not at all hesitant about that because I've nothing to hide. But the more I give, and I do every year, I go extra every year, every year, God just keeps pouring it. And this is not a fundraising technique like some people use it, this is a personal testimony. God has to be true to his Word no matter who obeys it.
Lorna Dueck: You know, we have a series that we're doing at "Huntley Street" where younger millennials ask us questions, and one of them has really haunted me. And that was the young man who asked, "How can you explain the parts of the globe where they have so little"?
Dr. Michael Youssef: Right.
Lorna Dueck: How would you answer that question?
Dr. Michael Youssef: Well, I've of course known people, just not read about them in the news. I've been to homes and I've been with people who literally have so little, and yet they're faithful to God and God is blessing them in ways that we cannot imagine. But if you're talking about just poverty in general, you know, that's just part of the sin nature that came into the world and the suffering. All of this. How do you explain ISIS, or the Islamic State, crucifying children in front of their parents? How do you explain that? There's so many things that are only explainable in the fact that sin had come into the world. And there is only one remedy to that sin, and that's turn to Christ. And when people do turn to Christ in the poorest areas of the world I've been to, I've seen their life literally transformed overnight.
Lorna Dueck: It's not all about money, is it?
Dr. Michael Youssef: No! No, no, no, no. It was about blessings that you know, you can't even imagine. These people living in joy and living in peace, and they are living above all... we feel bad for them because we're living in affluence, and this really comes out of guilt because we have been blessed so much and we feel guilty. So, instead of saying, "Well, God, what do you want me to do about it"? we say, "God, what are you doing about it"? It's a smoke screen. Blame God instead of me taking responsibility and do something about it. There opportunity is everywhere for us to do something about that. So, I would turn the question to the young millennial and say, "What are you doing about it"?
Lorna Dueck: All right. Dr. Michael Youssef, "God, Help Me Rebuild My Broken World". It's our offer this month, and we'd be happy to get you your copy of this excellent book on the book of Nehemiah. We'll be back with Dr. Youssef again tomorrow.