Sudden Wealth Syndrome The phone rang the other day and instantly

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Sudden Wealth Syndrome The phone rang the other day and instantly Powered By Docstoc
					                       Sudden Wealth Syndrome

The phone rang the other day and instantly my life was changed. The
caller was an attorney who asked if I was sitting down (obviously I was).
She then explained that a client of hers was so enamored with my work
that he wanted to give me one million dollars. No strings attached, no
expectations; just a bunch of money.
         Or, how about this one. I have been working for years on a new
gasoline additive. Just add one quart to a full tank of fuel and it will
triple your current gas mileage. I recently sold the rights to this amazing product for such an obscene
amount of money that I will never be able to spend it in my entire life.
         Actually, I made all that up; both stories. Nothing like that has ever happened. This kind of
instant wealth does not happen to people like me and you. Or, maybe it does. The Silicon Valley
creates sixty-four new millionaires each day. Between 1998 and 2008, the number of millionaire
households in this country will quadruple.
         In fact, there are so many instantly rich people that we have an official term to describe their
condition. It is called “Sudden Wealth Syndrome.” I did not make that up; it is an actual, recognized
         Therapists Stephen Goldbart and Joan Di Furia, of Kentfield, California, treat these
inexperienced wealthy families, and have coined the term to describe the worries that plague the newly
rich. Their most pressing problem is dealing with guilt. The newly rich feel alienated from family and
friends, are unable to trust investment counselors, and fearful that their children will grow up spoiled.
They experience an identity crisis because they no longer need to work. "It takes awhile to help them
get their balance emotionally," says Di Furia. "After all, they haven't been trained to deal with wealth,
like the Kennedys or Rockefellers."
         If I were to become suddenly wealthy, I have never anticipated that guilt, fear, and an identity
crisis would be my biggest problems. I always thought it would be long lost relatives and friends who
somehow got my phone number, or perhaps strangers who read about my good fortune in the
         However, there might be an even bigger problem facing the rich.

       And Jesus said to His disciples, "Truly I say to you, it is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom
       of heaven. And again I say to you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle,
       than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God." (Matthew 19:23-24)

I am aware of all the mental gymnastics that commentators have used to describe a small opening in
the city wall that allowed camels to enter by crawling on their knees. I don’t know if it is true or not. I do
know that the disciple’s reaction to Jesus’ words were just like mine – it must be impossible for the rich
to be saved.
        Jesus quickly clarified the issue for them by pointing out that what is impossible for man is
possible with God. Actually, the salvation of a poor man is impossible apart from God. But, there
seems to be something about possessing wealth that makes it extra difficult to experience salvation.
        I know some very wealthy people who are definitely committed to following Jesus, so it is
certainly not impossible. The temptation to rest in the security of wealth is great. For some, the
possession of wealth means they cannot forsake everything and follow Jesus (see Matthew 19:16-22).
        Our friends Di Furia and Goldbart encourage suddenly rich families to adopt a favorite cause
and use it as a way to teach social responsibility to the next generation. For example, one
entrepreneur made sleeping bags for children who lost their homes in the war in Bosnia. His kids
suggested that they also send teddy bears so the children would have something to hold. They say that
"Charity is the best antidote to anxiety and guilt -- because it builds connection and community."
        Giving to others is certainly a good idea, but I wonder if Jesus would suggest that the best way
to deal with wealth is to give away a few sleeping bags and teddy bears.

                                                                                              Terry Austin
                                                                                              July 5, 2006
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