There are few myths more dear to the hearts of pastors and directors of non-profit foundations than the myth of the sugar daddy. The sugar daddy is that most wonderful of all creatures: the man who puts his money where your mouth is. He is the man who has been successful in business, but who has become interested in your particular message or program. He then decides to devote his talents and resources to financing the program which you, as the founder or director, have devoted your life to. Here is the winning combination: the devoted life and the equally devoted checkbook.
What is wrong with this hope? Just about everything. I will list several basic problems: 1) money buys; 2) money can leave; 3) his supply of money can change; 4) earning isn’t the same as giving; 5) limited counsel; 6) limited vision; 7) controversy is risky.
Rich people buy things: cars, boats, businesses, opportunities, information, cooperative subordinates, wives, publicity, and awards. They may not succeed in buying all of these. Historically, they have a tough time buying and holding their offspring. But they are used to picking up a phone, telling a subordinate to “Get me….” and having it (or him) delivered that afternoon.
You aren’t used to buying things on the scale that the rich man does. You’re worried about budgeting personal expenditures. Those around you–if you can afford to have many people around you–are not used to anyone who buys and sells people’s lives, since you are worried about the cost of replacing them if you should fire them. The rich man has few worries in this regard. Subordinates are usually interchangeable. The rich man gets used to thinking in these terms.
He is also used to thinking that his wealth can buy him safety, as long as he keeps it. “The rich man’s wealth is his strong city, and as an high wall in his own conceit” (Prov. 18:11). He trusts his wealth, since it gives him his sense of safety. This is why wealth is a great temptation (Deut. 8:17). The poor man is more likely to know better than to trust his own wealth. He has so little to trust. His risk is different: the temptation to steal. Better to be a middle-class income earner: “. . .give me neither poverty nor riches; feed me with food convenient for me; Lest I be full, and deny thee, and say, Who is the LORD? or lest I be poor, and steal, and take the name of my God in vain” (Prov. 30:8b-9).
Middle-class people normally run non-profit foundations and churches. The law does not allow the head of a non-profit outfit to receive more than a managerial salary, nor can he be paid dividends, since there are no dividends. So the middle-class director generally has little contact with the rich or the poor, and he tends not to understand either: the poor man who is a master of the hustle, and the rich man who is the buyer of men.
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