More Than Money
Issue #33

Embracing The Gift

Table of Contents

“From The Editor”

Pamela Gerloff

The quotation on the cover gives me something of a pang whenever I read it. “The days come and go but they say nothing, and if we do not use the gifts they bring, they carry them as silently away.” To me, those words have a bit of the feel of the biblical parable about the master who gave each of three servants some “talents” before he embarked on a journey. (A talent was a coin, said to be worth more than a thousand dollars in today’s money.) Upon his return, he questioned each one, seeking to learn what had become of their talents. Two of them had increased and multiplied the talents entrusted to them. The third, fearful of losing his talent, had buried it in the ground for safekeeping. Only the original amount remained. The master soundly rebuked the servant, taking away his talent and giving it to one who had put his to use.

Various interpretations, of course, may be given to this parable. But after all is said and done, what remains for me is the feeling : If we do not use our gifts, they may be carried away. This journal issue is about “the gift” of money, of wealth, of affluence—because however it comes to you, wealth is a gift enjoyed by only a small percentage of the world’s population. How do you embrace such a gift and allow it to bear fruit— not just as a financial investment, but as a “talent” to be used in the world? To people without money, it sounds easy to do. But once you have money entrusted to you, you’re likely to find that it’s not quite as easy as it might appear.

Over the next 50 years, $41 trillion is expected to pass from one generation of Americans to another—through inheritance, taxes, and charitable bequests. What that means, for individuals and society, may depend upon how fully individuals are able to embrace the gifts contained in the money that comes to them.

Lots of people will talk to you about how to get a good return on your investment and increase your financial wealth. In the psychological arena, many will advise you about how to overcome the negative effects that wealth can bring. (See p. 38 for resources to counter “affluenza.”) In this journal issue, we have chosen, instead, to examine a less discussed, but crucial, question. Here, we explore how your gift can make you, and the world you live in, whole. Our intention is to help you uncover, as easily and enjoyably as possible, the gift in the wealth that is yours. We want your gift, like the talents entrusted to the servants in the parable, to fulfill its purpose: to be multiplied . . .

What does it mean to multiply wealth, beyond simply multiplying the numbers that measure wealth? Inside these pages, people are figuring that out. They talk about the challenges, not just of having money, but of making that money sing.

How do you keep money from ruining your children? How do you use it to enhance their lives? What do you do if you’re a professional athlete who has just signed a big contract and it’s front-page news? How do you respond to all those people asking you for money to fund their dreams? What if you’re the wife of a wealthy man and you’re living what looks like a fabulous life, but it’s not fulfilling your soul? How do you awaken the joy that lies asleep in your life? And what if you’re the chief of an American Indian tribe whose whole community has become wealthy through casino gambling? How do you turn that money into a transformational tool?

Those are just a few of the questions addressed in these pages. I hope you will use this journal as a handbook and guide, as you navigate the territory of change and decision-making that comes with newly-acquired money—whether it is inherited, earned, received through a lottery win or divorce settlement, or through some other expected or unexpected means.

As you read, it may be helpful to remember that while the people in these pages have resolved at least some of their challenges and questions, the process of getting there can be unclear, chaotic, and even, sometimes, painful. That is not unusual (though it’s not always the case). If you should find it happening to you, you might remember the words of Nietzsche: “One must have chaos in oneself in order to give birth to a dancing star.”

I hope this journal issue will make your transitions smoother and lighter than they otherwise might be. I hope it makes your own gift easier to embrace. And, most of all, I hope that in fully embracing the gift entrusted to you, you enable it to bear full fruit.

Pamela Gerloff
Editor


© 1990-2005, More Than Money, All rights reserved