William “Bud” Post won $16.2 million in the Pennsylvania lottery in 1988, but he was $1 million in debt within a year. He said, “I wish it never happened,” “It was totally a nightmare.” A former girlfriend sued him for a third of his winnings, and his brother was arrested for hiring a hitman to kill him hoping he’d inherit some of the winnings.
He poured his money into failing family businesses and he went into debt and spent time in jail for firing a gun over the head of a bill collector. He said he was “much happier when he was broke.” In the end, he lived quietly on $450 a month and food stamps until his death in 2006.
You’ve heard these stories and so have I. It’s amazing how often this repeats itself. Statistics show that 1 in 3 winners eventually go completely broke. An article in Forbes Magazine said, “There are two kinds of lottery winners: Those who grow their wealth, invest in the future, and help people and organizations dear to them, leaving enough to pass on to their heirs—and the kind of people who blow it and lose it all within a few years.”
The lottery is dumb…really dumb. But when I read that, I couldn’t help but think of martyred missionary Jim Elliot who said, “He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain that which he cannot lose.” Or Jesus’ words in Luke 9:24-25. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will save it. What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, and yet lose or forfeit their very self?
Here’s my takeaway: “Do all you can to make your time, talent and treasure matter and outlast you.” That’s not a matter of chance, that’s a matter of intention and choice.