MPJ: Why Money Can't Buy My Happiness (Or Yours)
I have a friend who, before I knew him, had gobs of money. Our mutual friends who knew him when he was rich regale me with stories of lavish parties, hotel rooms equipped with bowling alleys, special treatment at Vegas clubs, and, predictably, fancy cars. By the time I met him, he’d lost his fortune due to a combination of unwise decisions and unfortunate circumstances.
With the lavish lifestyle forever in his rearview mirror and a few years of experience living like the rest of us under his belt, my friend told me what he missed most about having money. It wasn’t something I’d ever thought of. What he missed most was the freedom to tell people to “F off.”
For many, “F-You Money” means you can tell your boss to take this job and shove it. But for my friend, it meant not having to pretend to like people you don’t. For everyone, “F-You Money” means independence—doing what you want when you want. “F-You Money” means happiness.
Michael Porter Jr. recently signed a max contract with the Denver Nuggets. That’s $207M over five years with $172M guaranteed. I’m pretty sure that’s some serious “F-You Money.” Unless you’re Mike Tyson, it should be more than enough for the rest of your life.
MPJ is a smart guy. He knows that the money could mess with him, changing him into a person he doesn’t want to be. That’s why he sat down and wrote a letter to the $207M, telling the contract what was most important to him.
MPJ is right. Money can’t make you happy. Only Jesus can.
The True Key to Happiness
Somewhere in history, Christianity got falsely labeled as a faith that isn’t concerned with your happiness. Nothing could be further from the truth. God wants you to be happy. He’s wired you to desire happiness. And he has told you how to be happy.
Blaise Pascal, a 17th-century philosopher, wrote:
“All men seek happiness. This is without exception. Whatever different means they employ, they all tend to this end. The cause of some going to war, and of others avoiding it, is the same desire in both, attended with different views. The will never takes the least step but to this object. This is the motive of every action of every man, even of those who hang themselves.”
Pascal is simply restating what many others—from Aristotle to the Psalmists to Thomas Jefferson—have said. People have a natural inclination to seek happiness. In fact, that’s the primary motivation behind every decision of every person in every era of human history. Given that we all desire happiness, you’d think we’d better understand what makes us happy. Alas, it isn’t so.
God spoke through the prophet Jeremiah, saying, “My people have committed two evils: They have forsaken Me—the spring of living water—and they dug their own cisterns—cracked cisterns that hold no water” (Jeremiah 2:13).
In the ancient Middle East, water was both precious and hard to come by. Rainwater was collected and stored in tanks called cisterns. A cracked cistern was a tragedy because as the water leaked out, so did your life.
The prophet Jeremiah says that when we give our life to anyone but God, our happiness starts leaking. We have abandoned the living water, building cracked cisterns instead. We left the God who will bring us happiness and instead tried to find happiness apart from him.
Here are three common cracked cisterns that leak happiness—maybe your happiness?1. Freedom
What if what actually makes you happier is putting others’ interests ahead of your own wants and needs? What if Jesus is right: the way to true life comes by dying to self?2. Options
We’ve never had more options. We’ve also never had more anxiety and depression. Maybe those are related?3. Consumption
What if Ecclesiastes is right when it says that the pursuit of more money and stuff only leaves you feeling emptier (Ecc. 2:4-11)?
MPJ isn’t different than you and me, so why am I inclined to think that he is? Specifically, why do I think that his $207M contract might change him, but I’m unconcerned with how my pursuit of money is changing me? Sure, he has more freedom, options, and opportunities for consumption than I do, but I’m pretty sure I still have more than enough rope to hang myself on the gallows of unhappiness.
Not only is the problem we experience the same, but so is the solution. It’s that living water that Jeremiah wrote about. Where do I find water that satisfies the thirst of my soul?
Jesus has the answer: “Anyone who drinks this water will soon become thirsty again. But those who drink the water I give will never be thirsty again” (John 4:13-14).
In our recent conversation with Michael Porter, Jr., he stated that he is happiest, not when he’s enjoying the benefits of his lucrative NBA contract, but when he’s at peace in his relationship with God.
Want to hear more and learn how MPJ stays rooted in his faith? Check out our recent episode now!
Posted by Keith Simon