Every investor wants to grow their money and build wealth in their lifetime and yet, it seems that nobody in the final stages of their life wished they had spent more time with their money or the pursuit of it. There are bound to be regrets for working too hard, losing touch with family and friends, giving up hobbies and leisure pursuits or putting off their happiness. Yet most people do not live their lives with this in mind. What gives?
James Lenhoff, our guest for today, opens up a discussion about building wealth beyond money and living life with no regrets. Encountering hundreds of ultra-wealthy people saddled by regrets in their later years, James took on the mission to protect people from the remorse and pain that compounds over time and help them live happier lives. Listen now and find out how to live your life with deeper meaning and fewer what-ifs and could-have-beens.
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About James M. Lenhoff
James earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Marketing from Miami University in 2000. Before joining Wealthquest, James spent five years with the Northwestern Mutual Financial Network as a Financial Representative. He spent most of that time training other Financial Representatives in financial planning techniques. James earned the right to use the CFP® mark in 2004. James is passionate about the emotional and relational aspects of money. He is on a mission to change the conversation about money. He is the author of “Living a Rich Life: The No-Regrets Guide to Building and Spending Wealth”. He is also the host of The Rich Life Podcast.
James has been married to his wife, Amy for over 20 years. They have three children. Max, Wes, and Mia. He enjoys golfing and running. He is very active in service projects through his church including financial literacy education programs, and missions work in Haiti.
ANNOUNCER: Imagine taking your generosity to the next level, impacting more lives, and leaving a godly legacy for generations to come. Get ideas and strategies to do just that when you listen to these personal stories from high-level Kingdom champions.
The Kingdom Investor Podcast showcases business leaders who have moved from success to significance, sharing how they use worldly wealth for Kingdom impact. Discover how they grew in generosity, impacted more lives, and built godly legacies. You'll find motivation, inspiration, and practical steps to grow as a Kingdom Investor.
Daniel White (DW): Welcome kingdom investors. This is your host Daniel White. Today, I'm interviewing my friend James Lenhoff. James is the co-founder of Wealthquest, a full service wealth management firm. Together with his partner, they have scaled the company to $1.7 billion in assets under management. In this episode, we talk about how James has gained an immense amount of wisdom from conversations with some of the 1500 families that they serve, and how one conversation changed everything. James and his wife live in Cincinnati, Ohio with their three kids. James is also the host of The Rich Life podcast, and a certified life coach. And now let's get right into the show.
DW: Welcome to The Kingdom Investor Podcast. I'm your host, Daniel White. And today I have with me, my co-host, David Clinton. We're interviewing James Lenhoff. James, where are you coming from?
James Lenhoff (JL): Cincinnati, Ohio, where it is gray and rainy right now.
DW: All right. Well, James, can you give us just a little bit of a background about you, and then we'll pray and get started?
JL: Yeah, background. I've been married for 21 years to my wife, Amy. We have three kids. Max is 16. Wes is 13 and Mia is 12. And I have been in the financial planning wealth management business for 22 years and have walked a lot of life we have about 1500 families that we work for. And so I've seen life lived out at all these different stages and decisions that people make that lead to a lot of beauty and a lot of connection and others that lead to a lot of pain. And I've discovered that my job is to protect people from the regret that compounds over time, not really so much making more money for them, but protecting them from the pain that they could experience. So it's a really amazing privilege. I get to walk life with people and give them that kind of guidance.
DW: Yeah, that's good. Let me go ahead and pray and then we'll jump right into the episode.
DW: God, I pray that You would help us to speak clearly about what you're calling us to say in this episode that, Lord, our listeners would hear what you're telling them, and that you would be glorified above all else. We are here to glorify you to live for you, and to invest in your kingdom. God, we want to use everything that we have, that you've given us to advance your kingdom, here and around the world for your name to be lifted up and glorified. Lord, I pray for us to come up with ideas and hear ideas on how to do that, and how to live for you better. In Christ we pray. Amen.
Thanks. So James, can you give us a little bit of background about Wealthquest, and really kind of the genesis story behind that?
JL: Sure. Yeah. So when I started my career, I started in 2000. Right, as the tech bubble was peaking, I got in the investment business, I graduated early from college and thought, Man, I should get into the investment world because it's really hot. And, man, God's sovereignty is all over that, because six months later, the tech bubble popped, and nobody was hiring. So that I graduated on time, I would have been doing something totally different. And so I started in that season of panic and chaos, and pretty quickly started to recognize that money is really emotional. It's actually not as mathematical as everybody thinks it is. It's relational. It's where all of our human brokenness kind of gets mixed up.
And so, five years in, I started with my business partner, Wade Daniel, we launched Wealthquest. And it was really out of this awareness that we've been solving the wrong problem that the industry thinks that the problem to solve is a rate of return point. We don't actually have a whole lot of control over that. We're all buying the same stuff. It's pretty hard to hang your value proposition on something that is completely arbitrary. And so what we really need to be solving is the fact that people are overwhelmed. They're struggling with coordinating all these different moving parts, they got an accountant over here, they're going to Attorney over there, they got five different places where money's invested, and none of those people talk to each other. And so we said, that's actually the problem. And so we brought everybody together. So we do our clients tax work, we do their estate design, we do all their financial planning, their investment management, all one team working together, figuring it out. And our tagline is invest in your life, we'll do the rest.
The idea is, so many people get so wrapped around these polls of investing that that's all they're thinking about. And they miss life as a result. And so we want to give them space to go do the things they said they wanted to do. And get out of the weeds of all the minutia, and the blocking and tackling. So, we started in ‘06 with about a hundred clients, and $67 million in assets, we were managing and four employees. And now we have about 40 employees, we have about 1500 families that we serve, and we manage about $1.7 billion in assets. So it has been this crazy rocket ship ride that Wade and I kind of hold it open handedly and say, God, I don't I don't know what we're doing with this. This is all yours anyway so tell us what you want us to do with it. And it's been a really fun experience.
DC: Are most of the clientele in the Ohio area or across the country?
JL: All over the place. Yeah, we have clients in about 46 states and a few countries actually, expats that live internationally. We have our main office in Cincinnati, we also have an office in Chicago, and one in Naples, Florida, as well. So it's pretty wild.
DC: You're fee-based, is that right?
JL: Yep. We're only financial planning and investment management. So, we're registered with the SEC and have the fiduciary role which is really important in our world.
DC: Awesome. Well, I was wondering if you could tell us a little bit about what areas of your life you think you've had found the most success and maybe how you got there. Often, success comes or is born out of failures or regrets. Share a little bit about that.
JL: Yeah. I think my dad on a regular basis that he instilled in me this willingness to try things. Failure has always been something that's actually a fun learning opportunity, not something I've ever been afraid of. And so, I'll never forget, just as kind of an example of that my dad when I was little was like, hey, let's go down the street, our neighbor down there, their water heater went out, let's go replace their water heater. And I was like that, Dad, we're not plumbers; we don't know how to do this. He's like, how hard could it be? Let's go try. The worst thing that could happen is they call a plumber. Let's get you know, let's go. Let's see what we can do. And we did it probably took a lot longer than a plumber would have done it. But those kinds of attitudes of like, the worst thing that happens is it doesn't work. Let's try. It's really set me up for just a lot of opportunities to try things and learn things.
JL: And so I think if I were what I hope people would say is where I've been most successful is in being able to balance work in ministry and doing things that matter. Because I've been able to say, hey, this doesn't define me so I can go do, you know, men's pastor leadership of men, I have a hard drive for men understanding their emotion. I got certified as a life coach, I've gotten all these things that I've done that are really aimed at helping people do relationships better. And that's been a lot of fun to just say yes to things and try things where everyone probably thinks my success lies in the business world. And I don't know if I can take credit for any of that. If my 21-year-old self when I first graduated, if I told that kid, hey, here's what would happen. You're going to manage this thing. It's going to turn into this big firm, we're going to have all these clients, we're going to be leading, that kid would ask me, how? And I would tell him, I have no idea. I can't draw you a map. I can't explain it to you. You can't take credit for any of this because I can't tell you how it happens. God just decided this is where it was going and we just, you know, held on.
DC: That's awesome. What are some of the things you've learned along the way that maybe were unexpected?
JL: I would say one of the biggest things that I learned is that the lie what I call the lie of being irreplaceable is vicious. So I talked about this in the book, this idea that we have this lie that we tell ourselves and that told us you're the only person who can do this, you're the only one who can lead this team manage this case, you know, sell this deal, close this, this prospect, whatever, right? You're the only one; we need you. And I would turn to my spouse and my kids and say, hey, don't understand, I gotta go, I'm the only one. And they can't compete with that. They can't say, hey, Dad, you know, you've done such a great job this quarter, we're gonna give you a promotion, you're gonna now vice president of fatherhood. Like, I'm just dad, and they can't give me a bonus, they can't do anything. There's no attaboys there. But I leave them and I go do this job that quite frankly thousands of people can do. And a lot of them probably do better than I can.
JL: But there's nobody that can be a father to my kids on this planet. And there's nobody who can be a husband to my wife other than me. I am irreplaceable there, and yet I go do these things where anybody could do this job. And the problem with that is I'm better at my job. I've trained for it. I know how to do it, I am in my wheelhouse. I've never raised a 16-year-old boy before. I have no idea how to do this. And so, it's my comfort zone and so we're drawn to it for so many reasons. And I'm constantly learning why I have to remind myself, this is the point. Anybody can do that work. And so I wish I learned that earlier than I did. But that's probably my biggest awareness lately.
DC: Amazing, that's awesome. You made a reference to the book. Talk about that.
JL: Yeah. So, I wrote a book called Living a Rich Life. And it is 22 years of doing this. I have walked through life with people and just gleaned wisdom. I don't know a lot of 43-year-olds that know a lot of 80-something-year-olds; it is such a gift. I just sit at their feet, and hear their stories and just soak in all their wisdom and God weighed really heavy on me one day and said, hey, I didn't give you access to all this perspective, for your own good, you got to share this with people. And so I wrote this book. And it's really a series of regrets that I've seen people have. They lose sight of the fact that the decisions that they're making can lead to beauty and relational connection, or can lead to pain. And I get to see both sides. And what I've tried to determine is that there are tools, there are frameworks to think about these decisions. Not rules, I hate rules. They don't apply; there are too many twisty, curvy parts of life rules that are really, really hard.
So it's more of a framework. So things like generosity. Generosity should always be a priority, because I think it's the whole reason we're here is to lift the burdens of others. And so I teach tools like the abundance fund, every financial planner worth their salt tells you that you should have an emergency fund which is answering the question, what if things go poorly? We need to have a better answer for the other question, which is what if things go well? Most of the time, the answer is, well, I'm just going to spend that money on myself. And I think we need to answer that question more as a steward, rather than an owner of these resources. And that steward would say, hey, I've already determined what I need, I don't need this, I'm gonna set it aside. Things go well, I'm going to put it in this other checking account where it's ready.
JL: And if God says, hey, lift that burden care for that family, make that cause, you know, move that needle, whatever, we just pay immediately, because the money is already there. We don't talk ourselves out of it. We don't tell ourselves well, how are we going to afford it? We've already set it aside, waiting to just obey. And the beauty is, you link arms with the King of the universe to do the work he's calling you to and you say yes. And then you just get to experience the delight of it. And so those are the kinds of things, it's like, we don't need to complicate this. But we need to recognize that these are emotional and spiritual issues; they're not math problems that we're solving.
DC: Where can listeners find that book?
JL: It's on Amazon, and they can also connect to me at our website, it's LivingARichLife.com. I also have a podcast called The Rich Life Podcast where we talk about a lot of those ideas as well. So super fun.
DC: I'll be looking into those as soon as we get off of here.
JL: Thanks. That's great. Yeah.
DW: So James, what was one of the catalysts to you shifting from success to significance and looking at, okay, what is really going to be important, and even having some of those conversations with those people that are further along than you and then to really dive in and see what mattered most to them? Can you tell us a little bit more about that?
JL: Yeah, about 12 years ago, I was 10 years into the investment business and was convinced that my job was to help rich people get richer. That really, the whole point was compounding more money. And I love compound interest. It's amazing, super powerful. It's my favorite thing. But I'm sitting across the table from an 80-year-old, 83-year-old client and we were in some space where he just really opened up and started to tell me all the things he regretted. All the decisions in his life that at the time made all the financial sense in the world, and he hates them. And he wishes he had picked a different path. Then, 10 minutes later, I had an appointment with a 30-year-old who was telling me all the things that they were about to do and why they make all the financial sense in the world. And it's obvious that this is the right answer. And I said, oh, I have you as an 83-year-old client and that guy would tell you that everything you think makes sense is what he regrets every day. And it blew me up.
JL: And I realized like this, the point here is I gotta protect people from the regret that compounds; it compounds more quickly and more painfully than money ever does. And so we got to get out ahead of that, and protect them from that. And so I realized in that moment that the conversations that we need to be having in this industry are very different than the ones we have been having. We got to stop talking about math. Math is easy. We complicate it because it serves us as an industry. It's really helpful when we tell everybody oh, this is really hard to understand, you need me. The math isn't that hard. The hard part is the fact that money is emotional and relational and we don't want to get into that because it's there's not a right answer like there is with math.
DW: It's messy.
JL: Yeah, it's very messy. That's right. That's right.
DW: So after that moment, what really changed in your life? And how did you kind of take action with that newfound understanding and perspective?
JL: Yeah, I think what what changed was the way that I thought about my work. I started to have conversations where I would ask a lot more questions. Most of my conversations before that, were really me talking at people giving them answers to all their questions. And I started to be much more intentional with my goal in each of my meetings now is to ask infinitely more questions so I can understand. It is super backwards.
DW: I would imagine, how do people would have liked that more though.
JL: Oh, for sure. Yeah, yeah. I mean, it was like, oh, I should have been doing this all along. Yeah, they want to talk about themselves. And they want to talk about meaning and purpose and the relationships that they want to see healthy and grow. And that's the stuff that always has mattered but it's never been the topic. The topic has been asset allocation, and, you know, PE ratios and GDP and unemployment data and garbage that has never mattered to their life, ever. But that's what the industry has taught them. That's what we talk about when you come and talk to us. And so we're trying to change the, you know, my tagline in my podcast is that "I'm on a mission to change the conversation about money because we've been having the wrong conversation for generations."
DC: Do you find that people have more joy, more fulfillment when they look at their money from that angle, from what they've been taught?
JL: Yes, yeah. they, they, they find that they can actually start to understand what they want. I'm convinced that the world of life coach and financial planner have to merge. Life coaching, and I am a certified life coach. And I can tell you, a lot of it is really hokey, and I get it, right. I totally get it and I agree. The life coach in the traditional hokey sense, says, hey, follow your dreams, live your passions. I have no idea how to afford it. I don't even know how the math works. But it doesn't matter, just do what you love. And the financial planner says, if you tell me what you want, I can map it to the penny, I can tell you exactly how to do it. But the client doesn't know what they want. And so they come in and they say, I don't know, I mean, I guess I'll retire at 65. Is that what everybody does? I don't know. There's no compelling vision for what they're trying to accomplish. And so we need to be able to pull that vision out of them, and then marry it with the planning. And man, you're unlocking something that they want to run after. Like, I don't have to force anybody to save. If we can paint a big enough picture that they're super passionate about, I have to like force him to stop. Because they'll run through walls to get that thing if it's compelling. We don't have that conversation. Typically we just say oh, yeah, the typical person needs to save this much and da da da da da...and it's all math. They don't fall in love with it.
DC: Do you have mostly Christians in your practice?
JL: Great question. We have a lot of Christians in our firm, we have a lot of Christians as clients. We do not hold that out as a requirement and we as a firm are neutral in that space. You know, it is a little bit of a challenge in that for me, my position always, always, always is someone should work with us because we're excellent at the work we do. Now, we happen to be excellent at the work we do because we want to honor God with it. We are always going to be excellent at the work we do. We also happen to be Christians. There are a lot of people in this industry, unfortunately, that I think can get those backwards and say you should work with me because I'm a Christian. I actually have no idea what I'm doing. But I'm a Christian so you should trust me, right? And it's like, we need to be excellent first and foremost. So yes, we are owned and led by believers, but we have clients and employees all over the place.
DC: I'm curious, I have the conversation about stewardship versus ownership comes up with your clients. I bet that's a very important thing to you. But how do we make it important to our clients?
JL: Great question. One of the things that's been really fun for me is asking them to tell me their story in a way that acknowledges all the things they had no control over. It wakes them up to the fact that oh, yeah, this isn't mine. So, you know, I can tell my story of building Wealth Quest, you know that I put in the effort, and I busted my butt and I did the work that no one else wanted to do and I got my certifications and dah dah dah dah dah and all those are fine. But then I went to Haiti for my first mission trip not too long after the earthquake down there, and we're driving through Port au Prince. And there's all kinds of potholes and mess in the infrastructure, which I'm sure it's still a mess, unfortunately. I've been going a couple of times a year ever since. But when we go through this section, there's this pothole in the middle of the road that we drive around, it's full of water, because it had rained, and there's a little boy in there. And he's probably seven, and he's naked and he's bathing himself in this muddy, murky rainwater in the bottom of this pothole.
JL: And God broke in in that moment and he said, James, that boy did nothing to deserve to be in that pothole. And you did nothing to accomplish what you think you accomplished. This isn't about you, it's about me. And I realized, like so I started telling myself the story of I could have been born in Haiti. I could have been born to a single mom in the depths of poverty. I could have been born to a situation that would have led to a totally different outcome 99.9% of all the things that actually mattered and set my trajectory, I had nothing to do with it. Yeah, so it is really selfish for me to lay claim to any of this, and act like it's mine.
JL: And so, when clients are telling me their story, they'll say things like, you know, I did, you know, such and such and as I was like, okay, so tell me about your folks, did they pay for your college? They're like, yeah, yeah, I mean, yeah, I came out with no school debt. Interesting, okay. And then when you graduated, what was the timing? Was it the perfect time to enter into your industry? Oh, gosh, it was amazing. I mean, if it was a year later, everything collapsed. Ain't that interesting. Like, you just kind of start pulling out like, yeah, those are the things that actually changed everything, and you had nothing to do with them. And it just breaks them open to the fact that maybe it's not theirs. It's a fun conversation, particularly with people who aren't believers, to be able to be like, hmm, wonder why that happened? Where did that come from?
DC: That boy, with unbelievers, do you see getting to work in their minds that the wheels turning?
JL: Well, truth is truth, right? And so one of the things that's really fun, a lot of times I've kind of consider myself to be a little bit in like, for lack of a better term, like spiritual espionage, right? Like I want to, I want to always share the truth. And I want to always invite them into a deeper knowledge of just how things really work. But I'm not going to bash them over the head with it. But one of the areas where I find that that is most compelling is generosity.
JL: Oh, yeah. People, everybody knows that this is why we're here, right? We all love the story of Ebenezer Scrooge and everybody gets this, like, yeah, that's what it's supposed to be like because we are hardwired to be generous. And so when I start to wake up in them this idea of like, hey, wouldn't it be fun? Then I always start from a place of the delight of it rather than the discipline of it. I think the church, unfortunately, has told everybody you have to do this this way because this is what it says. And I'm not - everyone should tithe - I'm totally fine with that.
But what I tried to wake up in them is what bothers you in the world? What really breaks your heart? Sometimes the things that break their heart are things that don't really bother me, but that's okay, right? They find this thing and I'm like, what would it look like to actually change that? What are the organizations out that are doing the work to make that problem go away? What would it look like to partner with him in that work? Now we're in there, like, oh, I would love that. So yeah, let's go do that. This isn't hard but you got to start from the place of... so beautiful, instead of, it's the discipline. And then the discipline happens; once you've tasted that beauty, you'll always do the discipline.
DC: You can't forget about it.
JL: That's right. That's right.
DC: That's where my passion is. I want to like you use the word awaken, waking the joy of generosity in people. And so the key that this is, I don't know, it is more happy making, more blessed to give than receive, and it really is. So much joy comes out of it. And in removing the barriers that people have, you know. What's in the way of that joy for you? Yeah, you feel scarce like there's not enough? Or don't know where to give? And so that's, that's kind of my role in the body of Christ, how do I help people remove barriers and give more joyfully, you know, with the how and the mechanics of it and stuff like that.
JL: Yeah, well, and I found, there's three, what I call, generosity circuit breakers. So, we're hardwired to be in this place of generosity and lifting the burdens of other humans. But something cuts that signal and it's three stories. The first one is "self made versus fortunate", which is I did it, I did it all by myself, nobody helped me. So why should I help you? And that was Ebenezer Scrooge's breaker. Nobody helped me and then the ghost of Christmas Past says, that's not true. Everybody helped you, everybody loves you. You are never alone in this. And he realizes how fortunate he was. And it blows him open. And he's throwing money at people, right. The other story is "entitled versus gratitude". So this entitlement mindset says, somewhere along the way, I got shortchanged, I deserve something, and I can't give you anything until I get what's coming to me. Or the gratitude mindset says, I can't believe what I have. I can't, I'm so grateful. And so if I can stay in that place where I don't deserve any of this, then I can give it right.
JL: And then the last one is what you alluded to that "scarcity versus abundance". The scarcity mindset is there's not enough to go around. We're all fighting over limited resources. We're all clawing at each other to protect ourselves. And I don't know if I have enough so I can't give you any. The abundance mindset says, there's plenty, the pie gets bigger. It always multiplies so, I can give it aggressively. And the thing is, it doesn't take three of those and only takes one. Yeah, we're on it, as soon as it cuts it, you can't recover it until you tell yourself a different story.
DC: Right, that framework is so helpful. I love that.
JL: Thanks. Thanks. Yeah, it's been super helpful and clients when you're in there, you can have the conversation like, oh, you got an entitled thing.
DW: Yeah, that is neat. Yeah, it makes me think a lot about generous giving. We have Todd Harper coming in.
JL: Oh, good. I love Todd. He's a great guy. That's awesome.
DW: Yeah. Yeah. David and I both do a lot with generous giving. And I've been to JOGs and I'm getting ready to host a JOG. And I think David already has hosted several journeys of generosities.
JL: Yeah, they're great.
DW: James, looking at your vision and, and even talking about your family vision? What can you share about that? And how you're really investing your time, talents and treasure in God's kingdom and what does that look like on a practical level?
JL: Yeah. That's a deep one. One of the things that I we actually have a family vision course for our clients to go through, yeah. Because one of the big mistakes we see families make is they don't have that central reference point for decision making. You end up making a decision based on how you're feeling in the moment are you know what emotion you're trying to medicate, which is where most people make financial decisions. They want to feel more significant. They want to feel more important and so they're spending money they don't have to buy that car that makes them feel better about them. That's why I've always said like this, these are never math problems. Nobody's ever out spending their resources because they can't do arithmetic. They're emotional issues, they're medicating themselves with these resources, because they, it's less painful to acquire debt than it is to feel inadequate. Right. And so we always are medicating something, we got to understand what's going on there.
JL: But, one of the big fixes for that is a central reference point of family vision. We have ours hanging on our wall. And we have four values, four "we will" statements that surround that vision, and they are that, we will be authentic and sincere, we will live in deep relationship, we will remain steadfast in Christ, and we will lift the burdens of others. Those are our four things. And so they're up on the wall, and they determine every decision, every decision is then measured against, is this going to move us towards this or away from it? Is this going to make us more able to do these things? Or is it going to take some of these away? And then that determines that it's easy. If you have that reference point, it's really easy to make a decision and my kids come to me and they're like, hey, I think I want to do this thing. And I pointed the wall and I'm like, does it fit? And they're like, Yeah, I'm gonna get to live in really deep relationship with these other friends of mine. Like, then the answer is yes. And if it's loud, I don't really know. It's like, I don't even have to say no, like, they're not doing it. It doesn't fit, right. So it's just gives all of us something that we're aiming at, and then everything else falls into place. So
DC: That's great. Is that available for people who aren't yet clients?
JL: Yes, absolutely. It's out there on the web for free. If you just do a Google search for Wealthquest Family Vision course. Wealthquest is one word, it'll take you right to it. And you can do it for free. And it's it's a series of family meetings. It's a really fun process. If you have kids that are already somewhat grown, it's really great to get them involved, because they need to have a voice in this in order for it to be theirs. We start with like, what are we known for already? And then you move to what do we want to be known for? And what are the things we are known for that we actually don't want to be known for? So you start to test that, like, somewhere in here, we're already doing some of this and some of it, we're actually already going against it. And we can start to distill down those core issues. We look at it from those two angles, stuff like that. And then you can start to say, Okay, now what are what are we going to be about? What are those "we will" statements and it frames up from there? It's really fun.
DW: That's really cool.
DW: Helps a lot with parenting too.
JL: Oh, for sure. Yeah, I mean, at the end of the day, the question that the kid always uses as its ultimate weapon, is "why?", right? It's always "why?". And so if I can say, well, that's why, it's like, okay. We don't have an argument, we've already decided this is what we're gonna be. Yeah, it's crazy.
DC: When it comes to taking our generosity to the next level. Do you have advice or guidance for people who are stuck at one of those three areas that you mentioned earlier?
JL: Well, I think the first piece of advice is figure out why you're stuck, like which of those stories has been your block, right? Because that really then helps determine the work you need to do. If it is a "scarcity versus abundance" issue, then the work you need to do is to determine what is enough to get to a place where you find that there is security, like, I do actually have enough, prove that to yourself and then give the rest away. If it's a "self-made versus fortunate" thing where nobody helped me, it's like, well, that is always not true. So, tell yourself a story in a way that you realize how you were helped and then that can sometimes be the compelling reason to go help somebody else in the same way. So all in my experience, that circuit breaker conversation, is everything because it starts to unlock people, and then they want to go do likewise. It's really easy when they get out of their own way.
DW: Yeah, and I think a lot of times, we don't think that we have that much, and so we think that we can't really give anything, we don't have extra. And so when you're like well, to be honest, everybody's got something to give. You know, it doesn't have to be substantial or or what we would maybe think is a large sum. You know, even if you don't have money, you could give your time or your talents.
JL: That's right. There's plenty to give and the key is give something. My experience with this is that people tend to think that they'll give eventually, right? When they get to that, when I get there, wherever there is, when I get to that confidence that I have more than enough, then I'll give. No, you won't. No, you won't. Because then you'll get to a place that - I call this the floor and ceiling problem - when I get to where I have $2 million, then I'll feel secure. And I'll go, well, that's the ceiling, right? And then you get to $2 million and now it's your floor. Now you're standing on it, now you have it. And now you can't go backward because that's scary. The floor is sinking, right? So well, now when I get to $3 million, then.... No, you won't. You're gonna have to build this out of some passion that will break through that theoretical "then" that's never going to happen, because the answer is now. Like you should be giving now. And they will give now, people will give now if they can connect to something that is pulling at their heart and can kind of compel them to take action beyond just the base discipline of it. There's $5 trillion of annual income that passes through the hands of Christian families in this country every year. If we were mediocre stewards, the kingdom would, I mean, the great commission would be fulfilled, everything like... what, what the heck, man? $5 trillion? I think we're gonna be okay. You know, it's unbelievable.
DW: It's amazing, just, you know, in my research on, okay, what is it going to take to finish the Great Commission funding-wise, and, you know, looking at the numbers and, and how efficient we've become with utilizing indigenous missionaries and different mission organizations and things like that. It's so inexpensive to finish the Great Commission, and it's possible now to fund the Great Commission and really finish it within our generation. And, you know, just changing our mindset and understanding that, hey, you know, maybe if we invest in God's kingdom and finishing the Great Commission, you know, instead of just, you know, adding more to our own bank accounts and pursuing that, you know, that's just, it's possible.
DC: But my question is about legacy. And I'm sure that comes up a lot with your clients. What does that look like? These conversations? You know, I mean, building a legacy, when your mindset is about stewardship, versus, you know, hoarding and things like that.
JL: Yeah. Yeah, I think the thing that's interesting to me is that most of the time people think that their legacy is built by their estate plan. It's what they leave behind, right? I tell people all the time, I hate charitable giving and estate documents, it is just the worst. I'm totally fine with you doing it if it's, you know, if that's the only way you want to devote, dispose of your assets, it's fine. But what happens is people say, well, I won't give, I won't give, I won't give, and then when I know for sure, I don't need it because I'm dead, then I'll give and you're like, oh my gosh, you're missing it, man. Like there's so much joy and delight available to you now. And so what I try to tell people too, is we try to highlight like, what is it that you're actually trying to leave a thumbprint on? Like, how do you want the next generation to think about money? How do you want them to experience God's resources? And then how do you do that by actually interacting with them on that topic today.
JL: So, a great example, was a client that was really concerned about her grandchildren having, you know, kind of a materialistic mindset. It's hard, if you're growing up in a wealthy family to not just get used to comfort and wealth. It just kind of comes with the territory. And so she's like, I just don't want them to be selfish and miss this. And I said, well then, get them involved in it now. Either 10 or whatever. They're in a place where I said, alright, well, let's, let's get a donor-advised fund opened up, where you can make a big gift, and then tell your grandkids, you each have $50,000 that you need to give away this year. And then have the conversation with it. What problem breaks your heart? What are the organizations that are moving in that space? And how do we partner together? Now, to make that change, rather than just hoping at some point they're going to catch the generosity bug. It's like you're gonna have to give them experience now. And so it was such a cool thing for her to have those interactions with her grandkids and pull them into this different story that's bigger than themselves. And I'd love to say this, this story ends with them being missionaries and they're totally selfless. And it's not. But you know, at least we move the needle a little bit.
DC: Right? That's awesome. That's a real legacy, right there.
JL: That's right.
DC: Pass along your values and teaching your grandkids what's important.
JL: It's not about just leaving them a check.
DW: James, you started out talking about how many clients you've served, and how you see them in their lives. And, you know, the 83 year old and the, you know, 30-year-old and all of that, gives you so much perspective, can you talk about one key thing that you've seen that has really changed the trajectory of some of these people?
JL: Well, I would say one of the biggest things, is helping them to recognize that experiences will always be worth more than things. You know, I am all for people spending the money they saved. I love it. I think it's great. I don't want them to spend it on stuff. And one of the things that's really interesting is behavioral finance studies have shown us why it's true. We know intuitively that experiences are worth more. But it's really hard to convince ourselves because this thing is tangible like my phone. When I first got this phone, I could turn myself into a unicorn, you know, and text my kids. It was super fun for a week and now it's just my phone, like, I don't even care about it, right? Because the thing gets more familiar over time, we get used to it.
JL: It's called hedonic adaptation. It's a really fascinating process where we're like, yeah, the newness and the new car smell, and whatever, it all wears off, and the thing is familiar. And now we need a new thing, right? What we experience with shared experiences is the opposite. You know, the trip to Disney, which costs more than the car in my driveway, right? Like, how is that worth more than the car, the car is tangible, I can sell it. But the reason is, because it gets more distant, it actually gets less familiar with time. We cherish it, we tell stories about it, we bring it back into today, to bring it back to familiar because it's so deeply valuable. And so the fact that experiences are vapor, and they disappear, is why we actually need to do more of them. It's so counterintuitive, but it's so true, right? And no one on their deathbed, which I have had lots of clients on their deathbed, unfortunately. No one on their deathbed is like, man, I really wish I'd have bought that iPhone 5 when it first came out. Nobody cares. Nobody cares. But they all regret. Man, I could have spent more time doing things, going to places. And so when I'm working with a client, and they're saying things like, hey, one of our dreams is that we take our kids on a trip to this whatever crazy place. I'm like, book the tickets. Do it now.
DC: Let's do it.
JL: Yeah, like we're not, and I need to tell you that if we get a couple of years down the road, and you still haven't booked those tickets, I'm quitting as your advisor. Like, I am not going to keep working with you. If you're not doing the things you said you want to do which is so they're like, whoa, you mean you don't want me to just keep accumulating more and you just keep billing me more? No, I want to take pay cuts, man, and I want you to spend this friggin money. That's why you save. But experiences are always worth more than things. That's that's a really important piece for people to get.
DW: Yeah, that's really good. So this has been a great episode. And I just wanted to give you one chance to share anything that you think is is really important for our listeners to hear before we go into the lightning round.
JL: Oh, there's a lightning round. All right, I'm scared already. So, let's see, I would say. what's, golly, my biggest thing is that if people can transition from an ownership mindset to a stewardship mindset, and have a shared vision for why they exist as a couple, as a family, it will change everything. There's something about the parable of the talents that I always come back to. One is the master expected multiplication. And we tend to think that we should bury it, we should hide it, we should stay safe. We should not be playing small ball. We should be going after it, taking risks, being entrepreneurial, being the best at everything we do for His Kingdom and for His glory and then just went after it. We should not be shrinking back. At the same time, when it does double, when the master came back and the steward said, I took your five, I made it ten. It was still all His. There was no scenario where they're like, here's your 10%, I'll take mine or here we'll split it 50/50, that feels fair. It's all His, always. Even after it did multiply. And so, you know, that really is what should break people open into generosity, into investing in relationships and experiences. It's all His, anyway. Do the things he's calling you to do and do it with fearlessness.
DW: One of the things that I think about because you're exactly right. But we think that that's like, we're giving up something. And really, God's already adopted us into His family, His kingdom is our kingdom.
JL: Well done, good and faithful servant, enter into your Master's joy, right? Like, we all get to do this together and it's beautiful, right? Yeah. Yeah. That's right.
DW: All right. What book are you reading right now, James?
JL: All right, lightning round. Okay. So, book I'm reading right now, we are doing a book study at our office on Atomic Habits. It's excellent, James Clear, highly recommended. It's a really good book.
DW: What's the most unique place you've ever visited?
JL: I mean, Haiti, for sure, is a very unique place. Vacation-wise, one of my favorite places on the planet is Glacier National Park. God's glory is on display in every inch of that place. It's just phenomenal.
DW: What's one goal or skill that you're currently working on?
JL: Oh, I, my, my kids all play music. And I am trying to get back into playing the guitar and it takes a lot of discipline. I used to be a lot better at it and so I have a hard time when I pick it up. I'm like, I used to be able to play this and I stink. I gotta act like a newbie again. So, that's hard. But that's something I want to get better at.
DW: Is there anything that we can either be praying for you or help you accomplish in your life?
JL: Oh, man. I think the biggest thing is that if I can get to a place where the conversation shifts in our industry, anything that you guys can be doing to help with that anything that you can be praying for, to just break this thing open, and have us be engaged in the harder conversation, the more valuable conversation. And if I can leave a thumbprint there, that feels like a job well done.
DW: Can you expound on that just a little bit more? What does changing the conversation about money need?
JL: I think it means engaging with people in the emotion that they're having around money and helping them understand what they're medicating with their money decisions, and that there's way more effective ways to feel what they want to feel. You know, addictions, you know, are ultimately medications of negative emotions, right? And those become these obvious ugly things that people shun and shame for. Being addicted to money is very similar. But it's regarded it's, it's something that people are proud of. And I'd like to change that and say, hey, same thing. It's the same thing. What are you medicating right now? Like, I'd love to get into those weeds and help them discover that there's so much more that can be done.
DW: Excellent. Last question, what's one thing God is teaching you this week?
JL: Oh, man, he is teaching me to slow down and to be patient. With those who are in need. I actually just had a conversation with a co-worker while I was a little late jumping on the ball with you guys this morning. And it was just such a beautiful space to help her understand what's really going on in her heart. And, man, I could have just run right past that. I needed to get on this call. And I sat with her and we talked about it for, you know, a few extra minutes longer than I had. And I think God's like, yep, that right there do that. Do that all the time.
DW: James, do you mind praying for our listeners before we close out?
JL: Absolutely. I would love that. Father, I am so grateful for this community that you are raising up that is changing the conversation about money. Thank you for the work that you are doing in the hearts of all of us. I pray for those listening. Lord, would you break up So open from any scarcity, any fear, any sense that this stuff is ours? And would you remind us that you own it all, you gave it to us for a reason. And invite us into the joy and the delight of honoring you with your resources. Just get into play in that sandbox, you are doing amazing work. And you get to just be a part of it and link arms with each other and with you in that work. That's why we're here. And so I just pray that you would call us some more, break off the things that are blocking us from that more. And continue to build this community that is ultimately bringing your community to Earth. We're so grateful for that. So bless these resources that are yours anyway. Use them as you wish have your way. In Jesus name, amen.
[END OF INTERVIEW]
ANNOUNCER: What if you could take your generosity to the next level? Impacting more lives in your community and around the world, creating a godly legacy for generations to come?
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