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Minister turned author gives advice for Christian kids about money management

August 25, 2011|By CHRIS COPLEY | chrisc@herald-mail.com
  • The Rev. Jim Morrison is senior pastor at Mount Pleasant Church of God in Smithsburg. He has studied the relationship between money and faith since he was a child. His book, "God Gave Capitalism to You," was published earlier this year.
By Ric Dugan/Staff Photographer

It's not often you hear a pastor promote Christianity and capitalism in the same breath.

But in his book, "God Gave Capitalism to You," the Rev. Jim Morrison tries to correct what he sees as a popular misperception:

"Profit is not profane, it is not obscene. Profit is a good thing, it is not inherently evil. In fact, in Scripture both production and profit are lauded, not lampooned or forbidden."

Morrison is a senior pastor of Mount Pleasant Church of God in Smithsburg. He published his book earlier this year. But he has studied the proper relationship between money and faith since he was a child, when he saw his father worry about providing for his family.

"My father was in the construction business. And it was hot and cold, and business was up and down," Morrison said during a phone interview. "Sometimes we struggled to make the rent. I said, 'I don't want to be in that position.'"

The key lessons the young Morrison learned were these: The American economy is based on individuals trying to make money by offering products and services, and individuals should act as though their financial stability were in their own hands.  

"We commence in a capitalistic economy by producing a product or service that benefits our community," Morrison wrote in his book. "We make a profit of our ability to solve problems, provide products, and/or serve in some capacity."


Encouraging self-sufficiency in kids

Morrison and his wife, Bridget, have two sons and two daughters — Graham, 12, Summer, 11, Reagan Grace, 7, and Justus, 5. He said he tried to teach them about managing money from an early age.

"One of the main things we try to teach our kids is stewardship or management — good management from a biblical perspective," he said.

Part of that is learning how to make money. Morrison said he teaches his kids to be entrepreneurial.

"I ask them, 'What do you love doing? Find a way to make money with that,'" he said.

So Summer and Graham make necklaces and sell them. Summer also decorates cakes. Graham helps older members of his father's church with chores around the house. He has also produced his first music CD.

Morrison and his wife also encourage the children to earn money around the house — read books, tackle projects without being told, do more than expected.

Another key aspect of managing money is giving a portion to support worthy organizations. Morrison wants his kids to donate 10 percent of their earnings.

"Give an offering. Be generous, because that certainly is the message of the Gospel," Morrison said. "When I received an allowance — 50 cents — I was told to set aside an offering for church. I remember it was a thrill to give my nickel. It didn't make a difference to the church budget, but it made a difference to me."

Justice, but not redistribution

With his book, Morrison said he wanted to correct another misperception he saw in society, particularly among church-goers.

"The big buzz word in churches today is justice," Morrison said. "That's an obvious thing in the gospels. But when socialism and Marxism talk about justice, they mean redistribution of wealth and equality of outcome. But Christianity does not promise equality of outcome in this life."

A couple years ago, Morrison said, he became curious about different political-economic systems. He wondered which were more godly.

"I think we've been seeing a rise in America for years of socialist-type policies, trying to integrate them in the capitalist system," he said. "So (I asked) my friends which if any is the biblical system — socialism, capitalism and communism. And to my dismay, they all said socialism or some form of communism."

Morrison was shocked, he said, but that was the impetus for him to study more. He read Adam Smith's "The Wealth of Nations," the 1776 book that promoted the idea of free markets. He read Cleon Skousen's 1981 book, "The Five Thousand Year Leap," which asserts that the United States prospered quickly because it was founded on natural law principles. He read books by 20th-century economist Milton Friedman.

Eventually, Morrison put his ideas together into a series of sermons. He talked about biblical values and early church history and the precepts of socialism, capitalism and communism.

Then he collected and revised the sermons and published them in book form as "God Gave Capitalism to You," which asserts that American-style capitalism is aligned with biblical values.

"Wealth is created or captured, but not distributed. The justice the Bible promotes is that we should be the hands of Christ to oppressed people. It's never my place to take from you and give it to the poor," Morrison said.


Not a perfect system    

Capitalism's reputation has taken a beating in recent years, with millions of Americans losing retirement savings or homes in the economic downtown, and a handful of clever business executives appearing to twist the system to their advantage.

Morrison acknowledged this, but he stands by the ideals of capitalism.

"A lot of greed has entered in and corrupted the system. So it would be easy to say maybe the system is broken," he said. "But our economy is based on the free enterprise system. If other nations could embrace free enterprise, they could accelerate the creation of their own wealth."

It's the same lesson Morrison wants his kids to learn. In "The Wealth of Nations," he said, Adam Smith talked about how hard it was for people born into the lower classes to escape poverty. Smith said free enterprise — the capitalist system — allows people to work hard to improve themselves.

Plus, Morrison said, work can be a delight. Free enterprise offeres no guarantee of success, but it generally rewards hard work.

"We are taught to hate work, that we have to work so we can do what we love doing," he said. "That is the definition of happiness — to take your risk, to take your chance."



About the book

Author: The Rev. Jim Morrison of Smithsburg

Title: "God Gave Capitalism to You"

Genre: Inspirational book

Pages: 62

Price: $12

Website: www.mtpleasantcog.org or morrisonfamily6.com

Available locally at: Mount Pleasant Church of God, 24107 Foxville Road, Smithsburg

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