I love the book of Proverbs. I always have. I have studied it. I have taught from it. It is a wealth of wisdom for my life. And I have a pretty good idea what it teaches. So when there comes along a book that claims to have inside information on how you can be successful, wealthy, and happy based on the principles of the book of Proverbs, I will always be skeptical.
But let me say from the beginning, that as I read The Richest Man Who Ever Lived by Steven K. Scott I found myself agreeing with him more than I thought I would. I appreciated many of the principles that he stated in this book. For instance, in chapter 2, he deals with the key principle of diligence. He gives numerous Proverbs that compare it against selfishness and self-centeredness. In the third chapter, he deals with vision. I appreciated how he walked through a vision mapping process to establish a road map to achieve your dreams (37). In chapter 5, he deals with the issue of communication, which is all over the book of Proverbs. He quotes many passages and for the most part, seems to interpret them correctly.
But here is what I really did not like about the book. Like a good infomercial, he plays upon the greediness of man. He would probably disagree with that statement. He will point to the fact that he does write an entire chapter, 13, on the issue of greed in Proverbs. He even says things like this:
"Solomon clearly teaches us not to set our focus on getting rich. Doing so is the quickest way to go broke. In Proverbs 23:4-5, he writes, 'Do not wear yourself out to get rich; have the wisdom to show restraint. Cast but a glance at riches, and they are gone, for they will surely sprout wings and fly off to the sky like an eagle.' The times I've invested in projects with the intent of getting rich, I've lost my investment. On the other hand, when I have kept my focus on achieving goals through my labor, I've had more success than I could have ever imagined." (203)
I agree. But the problem is that is not how the book begins. He begins the book with a hook of "do this and God will do this in return for you." If you just simply obey these commands or principles in the book of Proverbs, you will be successful and wealthy, and happy. Specifically, here is how the books begins:
"Imagine going from a below-average wage to a personal income of more than $600,000 per month! Imagine losing nine jobs in your first six years after college, and then, on your tenth job, building more than a dozen multimillion-dollar businesses from scratch, achieving sales of billions of dollars. Imagine doing all of this by following specific steps taught by Solomon in the Old Testament Book of Proverbs." (1)
What is the average person going to think with that "hook?" He is going to think that if he follows the specific steps taught by Solomon and he is going to become rich. It sounds just like something you might hear late at night on some obscure TV station.
I wondered why he would start this book like that until I came to what he believes is the greatest motivations in life: "the desire for gain and the fear of loss" (17). Here is where I differ from Scott. I am not going to pretend that those are not highly motivating factors, but isn't the glory of God a greater motivation for the Christian? Or shouldn't it be? Shouldn't I be motivated to live these principles because it honors and pleases and gives glory to my King? Not because I can get something in return for living it?
Overall, I think Scott couldn't get out of his own way and the main issue I have with this book is the marketing of the book. (I speculate that it is marketed the way it is because of his background; the jobs that have made him millions is indeed infomercials). If he had marketed the book differently, I think it would have been a much better book!
I received a copy of the book: The Richest Man Who Ever Lived by Steven K. Scott from Waterbrook Multnomah Publishing Group for review.