On today’s episode, I sit down with Brian and we discuss how to move past all the prescriptive banter around money, and dig deeper into redefining financial success, and the heart issues that govern our use of it. I get to unpack my story detailing my former relationship with money, how far that got me in life, and what ultimately changed in that relationship (for the better).
What’s your relationship with money?
Are you estranged partners, casual lovers, mortal enemies? Do you get along with money, or is there perhaps a history of abuse?
I truly believe that financial success is achievable for you, but you might be surprised how it’s defined! I hope you enjoy today’s episode, please shoot me a comment or question about the discussion today, as I’d love to hear your thoughts!
426 | Redefining Financial Success, Part 1
money, people, works, god, life, crutch, business, focused, financial success, solomon, debt, years, understand, important, great, credit score, happen, helping, shift, average
Chris LoCurto, Brian Alex
Chris LoCurto 00:00
Reorienting your financial success around what truly matters, that is coming up next.
Chris LoCurto 00:17
Welcome to the Chris LoCurto show, where we discuss leadership and life, and discover that business is what you do, not who you are. Welcome to the show folks, joining me today back in the studio before he heads back to Sicily, which will be ministering in Sicily, but still working with us as well, is Brian Alex. Brian, welcome back to the show. And what are you doing here?
Brian Alex 00:49
That is an excellent question. Yeah. So we are focusing for the entire month of July-
Chris LoCurto 00:55
Well before you do that, tell people what you're about to do.
Brian Alex 00:57
Oh, okay. Well, so-well, not that I'm counting. But 35 days from now. I'll be heading back home. So yeah, home is Sicily and going back to reengage the mission over there; Mission Sicily. You can find it at missionsicily.com. But no, that's where I've been since 2013. After we got this thing kicked off. I just left you high and dry.
Chris LoCurto 01:28
That's exactly it. Now you're leaving me for a second time.
Brian Alex 01:30
I came back to check on you. And now I'm leaving you my youngest daughter. And so you know, it's a fair trade.
Chris LoCurto 01:33
Yeah that doesn't sound weird at all. Abby, my goddaughter, one of my goddaughters works here with us as well. So, but fair trade.
Brian Alex 01:45
That's right. So yeah, I'm leaving an anchor, a morning here. But I'm heading back home to pick back up the work that I feel called to.
Chris LoCurto 01:53
Yeah, absolutely. Well, we are ridiculously going to miss you.
Brian Alex 02:00
But are you? But really?
Chris LoCurto 02:02
Yes, we will. So, alright. Hey, what are you doing here?
Brian Alex 02:06
Yeah, so okay, all of July we're talking about finances and I wanted to just re-frame for people where you're at with money, because you know, you and I used to work at Dave Ramsey's, great place, great principles, changed both of our lives for the better. And you were doing so much good there running the business, all of that kind of thing. And then you took a shift. But over the years, there have been some subtle incremental changes, even from there, about how you think and deal with money. And so I know your story, and I've kind of seen that trajectory, you know, for the 19 years that we've known each other, but I thought man, it would be great to dig into, what are the changes that have occurred? And maybe we can actually redefine financial success. And so that being the case, just to set this up today, you know, as you do a, you know, a really cursory search online for, what is financial success? What does it mean? There are tons of things that really prescribe what you should do, here are the steps. And they just launch right into follow this, do that, you know, cut this out, do more of this. It's really prescriptive, but there's not a lot of good description of what financial success really means. Here's an interesting statistic that I found, "These kinds of prescriptions exist because on average, 45% of Americans are financially illiterate." 45%, almost half. So there's a lot of good advice out there on the web, right? But there's very little about an approach to money. How should I even think about money? What is my relationship to money? So that's what I want to dig into today. You know, it doesn't have to be real heavy on the, you know, here are the steps. We'll get into that later in the month. But to what end? Where are we headed with that?
Chris LoCurto 04:25
Yeah. So for me, just like I think every single human being needs to go through Next Level Life, I think every single human being needs to go through Financial Peace University. It is a just phenomenal program. It helps you to understand finances. And so let's speak to that statistic. On average 45%, which is a funny phrase, on average 45% ae financially illiterate. Man, that has got to be a seriously conservative number. And what I mean by that is when we say financially literate, my definition of that would be, you actually understand how finances work, you understand how debt works, you understand how interest works, you understand, you know what it means to save, you understand how money actually works. Now, why do I say that that's got to be a conservative number? Because most people don't understand how money works. "Oh, of course they do, Chris, that it's not that difficult. You make money. You spend money." No, it's actually considerably worse than that. Or more difficult than that. Let me say it that way.
Brian Alex 05:44
And usually we're better at the second part. Spending than making.
Chris LoCurto 05:47
If people understood how much they affect their lives, and the choices that they removed from their lives with things like debt, with things like spending everything that they make, with things like spending more than they actually earn, if people really understood how much that's affecting decision making choices, options, you know, we always say that debt robs you of your options. If you actually could see it, you'd go, "Oh, well, okay, well, then, yeah, that's really stupid." But there are tons, most of America is heavily in debt. Most of America uses debt and thinks that they're doing smart things. So it's funny, a few years ago, I don't remember who it was that did it. But when all of this, you know, free college, everybody should have free college, you know, we'll charge that out in taxes, all this kind of stuff was going on during the election period, right? Trying to get the young vote. You have all these college students or young folks saying, "Oh, my gosh, absolutely. College should totally be free. And the rich people should pay for it." Right? And somebody went on campus and started interviewing and said, "Okay, so let's think about this. If you go to college for free, somebody has to pay for that." "Well, yeah, it's the rich." "Okay, well, let's say it is the rich. And the rich, let's say they own a business. Like let's say it's a fast food restaurant. If they have to pay for your college, what do you think's gonna happen to the fast food that you're buying every day?" "Oh, well, they're probably gonna raise the price." "Yep. Because they're having to pay for your college. So guess what, you're actually gonna pay for your college in the long run anyways."
Brian Alex 07:23
Or they're working at that fast food restaurant and their wages just went down.
Chris LoCurto 07:27
That's right exactly, right? And so this concept of when you actually bring that to somebody's mind, do you see how this actually works? You know, Rabbi Lapin, Daniel Lapin is always talking about how the world really works. The truth instead of the crap that people push, it's that same kind of concept with finances. We believe, you know, as Dave says, "We worship at the altar of you know, the FICO score." Right? Because there's so much teaching that you need to have a great credit score, I'm pretty positive. Mine's been at zero for almost 20 years, right? So the funny thing is that, you know, I could go buy things. You know, if I wanted to buy an apartment complex, I go buy an apartment complex. But if I go try to get an apartment at that complex, I can't get a place, because I don't have a debt score, right? I don't have that credit score.
Brian Alex 08:26
It's better to own the complex.
Chris LoCurto 08:28
It's better to own the complex anyways. But when you think about how stupid that is, right? It shows that we don't really truly understand finances. When people believe that having a credit score is so incredibly important. And they don't realize that the credit score is based on how you handle debt. People think a credit score means that I'm financially smart. No, it means that you're financially handling a lot of debt, right? And so that's what it's all about. So when I look at this type of stuff, for me, what matters is actually getting an understanding of how finances really work, how money really works. And keep in mind, money is amoral. It has no feelings, it has no thoughts. Money operates in the hands of the person, right? So the decisions I make, that's what's gonna happen with that money. So it really doesn't care what happens to itself because it has no feelings. So long diatribe on all of that. I don't know if that's where you wanted me to go.But there you go.
Brian Alex 09:27
No it's a perfect segue into the first question. And, you know, it's gonna be a little bit more of an interview style today. I want to ask you some questions about your story, tease some of those things out but before we do that, let's take a break.
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Brian Alex 10:44
Alright. So, dealing with this idea that you do tend to function and operate and perceive, have a relationship with money that's a little bit different than the average business owner. And even, like we said, just a minute ago, a little bit different than you did years ago. And I've kind of watched that transformation. I want to get to that. But before we do, you work with tons of leaders and business owners. So what is the status quo out there? What do most business leaders, what's their relationship with money, and what's their idea of financial success?
Chris LoCurto 11:19
Yeah. So it's not a one size fits all. But more than not, what we see is that when it comes to the average business owner, believes that money is a scorecard, you know, "If I'm making money, that I'm doing something right."
Brian Alex 11:42
Some worth issues are feeding into that.
Chris LoCurto 11:45
Totally. And by definition, you know, if we're only looking this through the eyes of man, if your business is not making money, you're not being successful, right? If your business is making money, then you must be doing something right.
Brian Alex 11:58
And how do you feel on either side of those, right?
Chris LoCurto 12:00
Yeah, exactly. And so we stop right there. So we need to keep making more money. Because the more money we make, the more successful we are, the more worth we have, the more identity we have, all of those pieces come into play, right? And then also, I get to use that money to go and buy more stuff that also screams how successful I am. If I have, you know, a bigger house, or more cars, or whatever, then I look at me, I'm really successful, you know?
Brian Alex 12:26
And we need to say this works right on that other side on the personal life side as well, because it's keeping up with the Joneses. And that's the scorecard and how many things my kids are in at once, and you know, how ragged we're wearing ourselves out all through the week.
Chris LoCurto 12:42
Yeah, absolutely. So on average, what you will find or you know, a high percentage is that money is a scorecard to people. So one of the things that we say here and there been changes in my life, the major changes and so let me just kind of give this at a high level, the major changes have been my focus on my worth in God, not my worth in man. So for much of my life, when it came to making money, you know, we own multiple businesses right now. And our goal in the early days was to diversify and to continue to make money, all of that fun stuff. As God drew me closer to him and focusing on your worth is not in what man sees, your worth is not in man's opinion of you, your worth is not in impressing man with what you have, what you do, how you look, how funny you are, how intelligent you are, none of that stuff is your actual worth, your worth, is what I say it is, I'm God. I own you, I tell you what your worth is, quit focusing on man, quit focusing on this life, you're a citizen of heaven, focus on me. That changed everything for me, as I began to grow in that, that changed the way that I look at everything. So when I started this business, you know, ever since, I've been telling people money is not our number one motivator, it's not our number one motivating factor. God is our number one motivating factor. Number two is changing lives. Our goal is to change lives and for God, right? So if we can help every single person listening to this, if we can help every person Next Level Life and Stratplan, and, you know, in the leadership programs, whatever it is, that is way more important than the money. God is way more important than helping people.
Brian Alex 14:34
And just in that hierarchy or that pyramid, the the things that are closer to the bottom. So you mentioned God, and then people, and then money, the things closer to the bottom serve the thing that's above them. So we make the money number three in the list, in order to affect that number two, in order to affect people, the more money the more profit, the more revenue that comes through. The more we're able to serve and love and change people's lives. Why? Because our mission here is worshiping God, and seeing that transformation in people. And so then ultimately, we're serving the top. So it seems like what you're saying is a lot of, you know, the common perspective outside in the world has that upside down?
Chris LoCurto 15:23
Well, yeah, really. And here's the key. As I said before, this isn't my home. You know, for those of us that are believers, this current life is not our home. Now, we'll be back here, obviously, if you actually have read the book all the way through. But the key is, is that we are citizens of heaven, we're we are citizens of the transition, we are here to be in the world, not of the world. So for me, to put all of my emphasis on making profit number one, means that I'm believing that I'm the one making it happen, that my team is the one making it happen, that God's not the one making it happen. That is making us more self sufficient when we take a look at and we've talked about this in devotional this morning, actually, when we take a look at Jesus and the rich young ruler, or rich ruler, I don't remember if he is actually young, but anyways, the issue he's followed the commandments, and Jesus says you need to go sell the stuff that you have. Now, here's a common misconception. He's calling Jesus, a teacher, a rabbi, a Rabbani that he is believing that he is somebody with the power to give direction. Now, what we don't understand in a Western Christian culture is when a rabbi tells you what to do when you claim that that is your teacher that that's your Rabbi when they say, you do. So when the rich young ruler leaves, unhappy, people think, oh, he just didn't like the answer Jesus gave. No, he left unhappy, most likely, because he then had to go and do the things. And so great Lyneé was bringing up this morning, you know, Jesus turns over to the disciples, and he says, "It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than it is for a rich person to enter the kingdom of heaven." Well, as Lyneé was pointing out this morning, the concept of that is that there's like small gates, or even going through mountain passes, there'd be a small hole, and it would be called "The eye of the needle." There's a gate in Jerusalem, that is called the eye of the needle, and it's too small for a camel to go through. But when they closed up the big gates, you had to get your camel through there, there's only one way you could do that. You had to take the baggage, the stuff, all the things that you have on that camel off, the camel would have to get on its knees, and then be able to get through the eye of the needle. Concept being what Jesus is saying is, you've got to strip away the things of this world that are so important to you. That's keeping you from being focused on me. If I'm not the most important thing, if stuff is, if money is, if people's admiration is, whatever that is, that's going to keep you from me. And here's what I'm telling you. If you're willing to give up all of that stuff, and focus on me, it doesn't mean you can't have stuff, it means it can't be your worth. It can't be your you know, that's your value. It can't be that you spend life going after those things. If you'll give those up here, I'll give you 100 times more than that in the kingdom of heaven.
Chris LoCurto 18:41
So everything I'm going after in this life, that is my worth, so please don't get confused. I'm not saying you can't have stuff. What I'm saying is, is if you're going after money, things, possessions, all of this stuff, because it is feeding your worth, then you're not going after God who is your worth. Right? And by doing so, the reward that you're getting here is 100 times less than, 100 times less than what you can have in eternity. So if you spent 80 years here, you got your reward for 80 years. Yes, you still get heaven. But what he's saying is that there's so much more if you will make me your priority. So that is such a big part of my life. I put my head down and made a lot of money and bought stuff and did things and then when I lifted my head up, it was like God was smacking me upside the head with a two by four going, "Look at what you're missing man. Is all this stuff important?" And so when I say that profit is not our number one motivating factor, it's at best, our third. Now, here's the other side of that. And by the way, we teach every business owner, leader who wants to go and kill it in their business. We teach them exactly how to do that, we will help them to make as much money as they want to make. But along the way for most of them, if they're open to it, we also help to teach this God perspective in which everybody has always been open to that. So, for me, we're not operating a business that's not profitable. None of the businesses are not profitable, every one of them is profitable, you have to have profit to be able to operate a business to keep your doors open. Otherwise, it's a colossal waste of time. Well, there's one that's currently not we just bought the ridge, and were building, we're hoping to move our business and a whole bunch of other stuff right now, that's a big money hole. Because we're building up. It's a big investment right now, but even that will be profitable. That's the goal is to help people get an even greater life change experience, right? So if it's not profitable, we're just not going to do it. Because it's a waste of time. But here's the bigger key. If it's up to me, it's only going to be as good as I can do it. If it's up to this team, it's only going to be as good as this team can do it. If I do not recognize that my sufficiency is in God, in other words, that he is the provider of everything. If I do not make him number one, if I do not focus on obedience to Him, if I do not recognize he's the one who's making all this stuff happen. Even though I tell myself all the time, "I'm so great." I don't actually tell myself this, but a lot of people actually do believe it or not, "I'm so amazing. Look at all I'm doing, look at all I'm creating, look at all..." That kind of mindset says that "I'm self sufficient", which is saying, "I don't need God." God usually doesn't respond very well to that.
Brian Alex 21:47
I mean, it comes out of self sufficiency, but really, you're in essence, saying, "I'm dependent on this working out, I'm dependent on future success and increase in revenue." And all of that, and then if and when that doesn't happen, or you experience setbacks, your worth, then takes a major hit. Because all along, you've been tied to it, serving it, and depending on that success.
Chris LoCurto 22:12
Exactly. And when it doesn't work out, this is when we tend to turn to God going, "Why aren't you making this happen? Why aren't you blessing me on this?"
Brian Alex 22:22
And he's like, "Where have you been?"
Chris LoCurto 22:25
God's very clear to the Judites. Not the Judiaizers, the Judites, when he says, "Do you not recognize when you go out into your fields that I have cut your crops in half, I'm the one doing that, because you're not focused on me, you're focused on you."
Brian Alex 22:45
it's an attention getter.
Chris LoCurto 22:46
Goodness gracious, think about this for a second, the King of the universe, the God who owns us is saying, "If you keep making you more important than me, then I'll cut your crops in half. And the bad thing is, you won't even recognize it because you're so focused on you." So when you recognize that, I look at this business, and I'm like, blown away, at how much when we are obedient. When we're focused on God, when we're focused on helping people, how much he keeps sending, how much he keeps doing, with the business how much he keeps doing it bigger than we would even imagine, you know, the buildings that I've purchased in the beginning phases were going to be so much smaller, and the processes and the things and because I could only see what I could do, but I put my faith in God, and he's blown things away. I mean, it's just been incredible. So I hope all of that makes sense.
Brian Alex 23:43
Yeah I mean, it really sets up, you know, because right now what I want to do is, let's go back in time, because this is not where you began, this is where you have arrived. And in the early days, I mean, you can start with how you grew up, kind of home. I mean, you even talked about that this morning in devotional, the kind of home you grew up in, but then I mean, you came out of the gate chasing what you thought was going to make you feel worthy and important. And you decided, you know, I'm not going to keep going without, I want to have things, I mean out of the gate. That was a primary motivation as it is with so many of the people listening or at least it had been at some point in their careers as well. So I just want to tether that in. Let's start there. Where did you grow up? What was that like? And what sent you towards a business career?
Chris LoCurto 24:37
Yeah, so I grew up in Lake Tahoe, very poor. We didn't know we were poor. We didn't realize that we were poor, but we were poor.
Brian Alex 24:45
But when none of the other neighbors are washing their clothes out on the front step in a washboard. There were clues.
Chris LoCurto 24:52
There were times that we went without electricity. There were times that we ate government cheese and if you were of that era, it was fantastic cheese. Oh my gosh, it was the best.
Chris LoCurto 25:12
But we were there were times we didn't have electricity. There were times were being scholarshiped on to the football team, you know, we just didn't have a lot of money, then there was a time we were rich. It was all of a sudden, we had a lot of money. And that went for a couple of years, and then lost all of that and back to poor. And so interestingly, and again, I do believe that poor is a mindset. We weren't thinking about it that way, at least me. I don't know, let me just speak for myself. I just thought, "Well, I didn't have what everybody else had more money, they were able to do more things." All that kind of stuff. This is just the way life was, right? But when I got to 18, I was done. I'd been working since 14 years old.
Brian Alex 26:06
Where you gonna go with that?
Chris LoCurto 26:06
Surely it was legal. But anyways, literally working in restaurants at 14 years old. And, you know, by the time I got to 18, and, you know, my mom had had an accident. So I had to go to work full time and take care of things even when I was younger than that, not younger than 14 but in my late teens. And when I got to 18 years old, I believed this line that credit cards were financial independence. And that meant something I could show that I was somebody right? And so I immediately went out and got a Visa, MasterCard, American Express. Well-
Brian Alex 26:47
The Holy Trinity.
Chris LoCurto 26:48
Yes. So here's something to understand. Back in those days, a minimum payment on a Visa MasterCard was like 10 bucks, 15 bucks. American Express, you had to pay every month, whatever you spent, you had to pay for it. And I was sharing the story with Lyneé's mom. We started dating and I wanted to impress the daylights out of her. I was 19 years old at the time, and I wanted to impress the daylights out of her. And so I took her out and spent all money is like $226, which at 19 years old, back in 1989. That was a lot of money. And thought, well, it didn't show me a minimum payment on the thing. So I just sent him like 25 bucks. And then I was in a VHS store. Yeah, a video store. If you remember those things. And I was renting a movie, I'd love to know what movie I was trying to rent. That would be hilarious. And I handed the guy my card. And then he did some stuff, he picked up a phone, and he hung up the phone and he looked at me. I'm so sorry. I have to keep your card. And I mean, just the fear, the shame, the guilt, everything that just invaded my body. Oh, gosh, there was zero- I'm a horrible person that this has happened, right? And I just wanted out of the store. And I didn't know what was going on. And I didn't understand it. And you know, any of this stuff. And come to find out is because I was I wasn't paying the full bill. And so they took my card. Well, that changed. I mean, immediately that changed. You know, I grew up staying away from debt, debts a horrible thing. This is a terrible thing. "Oh, but now I'm a man." I got into debt and quickly went, nope, this is stupid. And let me fix this thing and change the way that I operate it.
Brian Alex 28:40
So that's one big mile marker that happened. I remember you saying a week or two ago, I think I heard you say that you used to score really high on the economic, right? Because that was a big value, talking about the Disc and values. That was a huge value. I mean, and that took a huge blow right there at that at that mile marker. Where did that change start?
Chris LoCurto 29:08
That's actually later on in life.
Brian Alex 29:09
Chris LoCurto 29:12
I stayed out of credit card debt. For the most part. I think, you know, I really didn't do anything. Here's the funny thing. Peer pressure kicks in. I'm in youth ministry in the mid 90s. I have had a fantastic pickup truck since I'm 18 years old, but it's rust, and you know, primer, and I loved that it was loud. It was fast. It was great. And I'm in youth ministry now. And all the other youth leaders that are in youth ministry have better cars. And so I had this peer pressure, men's opinion. Nobody even knew what I drove. But I convinced myself that I needed a new car. And so I went out and got into debt for a new car and because of the stupid thing that happened, you know, half a dozen years before I had this ridiculous interest rate, that was dumb. And so I was working to get out of that and then bought a house. And so those are really the only debts that I had. But I knew that something I can feel God telling me, something bad's coming, you know, you better busted, you better fix this, you better change this. So about right at around 2000 I made the decision. This is it. I'm done. I want out of everything. I want out as fast as I can. You know, Dave and I had gone to church for many years together, his kids came up through the youth group. And now I'm working with Dave-actually, I was just helping out-I was just helping out at one of the events and I was selling Financial Peace University never been through it, I was selling it like crazy, right? It was hilarious. And I'm like, Oh, this is amazing because I truly believed in it. But I also thought I knew everything that was in it, and nope, rocked my world. When I actually did go through it, and sat down with Russ Carroll and had just a phenomenal conversation. I'm like, that's it. I'm done. I went out as fast as possible and got out of debt, commercial debt within a year, which was, you know, just working two jobs going ballistic, and then out of mortgage debt four years later, so since 2001. I've not had any consumer debt, since 2005. I haven't had a mortgage right? So during that time, on the values profile, you know, we teach Disc and values here also called motivators. My economic was like 83. And the reason why was because for me, I wanted out, money was super important to me. I wanted to get this done, I wanted to get out of this, you know, so it's interesting while I was getting out of debt that economic stayed high, now my altruist was always the highest. Helping people, developing people you know taking care of people. But while I was getting out of debt my economic was really high. Interesting thing is, didn't even think anything of it, got debt free, moving on in life, my economic dropped to like a 48. Because money was no longer that scorecard it wasn't that important thing for me anymore. Loving people, taking care of people, loving God, all that kind of stuff was. So while I was in it, and I saw how bad, bad choices debt was robbing me of my options. I was sick of it. I was done. My economic got way high. I want this done, gone. Multiple jobs, busted my butt, you know, at Dave's with the opportunity to make money running a business for him. You know, all that kind of stuff that really had it cranked up.
Brian Alex 32:50
Yeah. Now talking about all of this reminds me of Solomon. And, you know, quite possibly the richest man alive at his time. And he he talks about those early years that you were just describing, he talks about them in terms of just chasing after the wind. And, and you know, you think about that, just that image, that analogy for a second chasing after the wind, how foolish how foolhardy how, you know, just worthless in vain. And no wonder I mean, he comes to the end to say, it's all vanity. The only thing and the conclusion of that book is, is obey God and love him. I mean, and it brings us back to that because you were experiencing some monumental shift, perspective was changing. I think that's where you and I first met around 2002, 2003. And and I was watching you go after getting that house paid. You were just gizelle intent as Dave would say. So the chasing started to shift, you started chasing after something else other than the wind and value started to shift in terms of, it went from the high economic of I need money for value and worth and a sense of accomplishment and success. And it shifted over to something else. And I want to start digging into that. We probably need to break for a second. And we'll talk about that when we come back.
Chris LoCurto 34:26
Chris LoCurto 34:30
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Brian Alex 35:28
Alright, so coming back to your story. And I think where I'd love for this to hit is there are other people who are listening. And I mean, I'm even resonating with your story myself. There's people that are listening that are going, "Ah, wow, okay, that was me, or that's where I am or, that could be me." And I want to start pointing to shed a light on that shift, where the chasing after the wind became a chasing after God, and what God wanted for you and what God wanted you to do. And so that lens shifted, God took the the center place. So can you talk about that? What did that look like for you?
Chris LoCurto 36:16
Well just to tie into what you were saying about Solomon and Ecclesiastes, he's saying, you know, and I'm going to paraphrase Solomon, because I'm just not amazing. Because I can't quote it specifically is the reason. He's saying, "Go get everything you want. Go make as much money as you want. Go have as many wives as you want, you know, go get this stuff, go impress the daylights out of everybody. But understand, at any moment, God can thump your world. And it's all gone. And you will have recognized you did all of this in vain." And I think this is the piece that we don't recognize, we don't even think about. God can do anything he wants to do at any time. God allowed a Solomon to amass everything that he amassed. He also allowed him to bring paganism into worship with God. So interestingly, King David did some pretty crazy sins against man right? We can see that, we can see the adultery, we can see the murder, we can see all kinds of stuff. Now there's a lot of killing that he did that wasn't murder, it was different, separate. We're talking about the legit sins against man, right? And God still kept him king of Israel. He never took Israel away from King David. Solomon did not. Solomon didn't go out and do those types of sins against man, he sined more against God by bringing paganism in by bringing it you know, all the different wives and allowing them to have their Gods be a part of Israel, and what a God do? He ripped Israel from him. And so it's an interesting, you know, way of looking at God's focus, where he's wanting us to be so focused on him, you know, even through all of the ridiculousness that David did. And by the way, I've done a ton of ridiculousness. He still kept God his focus, his only God, right? So as Solomon gets towards the end of the book, and he's experienced a lot of things, what's he saying? "Hey, don't be stupid. Like the younger version of me was to think that stuff was important. To think that impressing man was important, to think that having all these people come and be a part of stuff and that you're so amazing that that's the thing. Because at any moment, God who still owns you, and is allowing all this to happen, he can just thump your world. And you lose everything." "Well, it's not fair." "Of course, it's fair. It's his to do." Right? That was a big shift for me. Was recognizing that so much of my efforts were in vain. Now, keep in mind, I've always been an altruist. I've been trying to help people since I was a kid.
Brian Alex 39:17
And yeah, talk about what is an altruist? Somebody who's really disposed towards acting for the benefit of others?
Chris LoCurto 39:25
Yeah absolutely. One who loves to develop others, I always say one who loves to remove the pain of the world, wants to take care of people, very compassionate, can be a doormat to society, because we tend to allow people to walk all over us because we're trying to help them, which is why we do Next Level Life, you can learn how to put healthy boundaries in place. Since I was a kid I've been trying to help people. I remember in school trying to help other kids. The funny thing is, is when you're a kid a lot of people don't listen to you, right? Because what the crap do you know, right? But for my whole life, I've been trying to help people. But there came this point when I realized I am hurting myself by making really stupid financial decisions and things like that. And so that's when my economic kicked in, got rid of that stuff. And then that really allowed me to focus heavily on helping more people. However, the whole time I had been hearing God tell me that I'm not spending enough time with him, I'm not spending enough time focused on his word, time in prayer, you know, I'm doing those things. But, you know, it's just, it's nothing like it needed to be. And I went through a very traumatic time in my life, the most tramatic time I've ever experienced in my life. And in the bottom of that, I found myself just going, I have no other option, I need to get on my knees for as long as I can possibly be, and then go bury my face in his word for hours and hours and hours. I mean, literally, multiple hours every single day.
Brian Alex 41:02
You know, it's so funny, just to interject here, the mindset that- because I have a lot of secular friends. And the mindset is that God and the Bible and religion and all of that, it tends to be a crutch, to help you get through life until you have one of these kinds of experiences. And you realize that it was all the other things that you were chasing after, and where you were finding your value and worth and all of that and the accumulation. You know, like Solomon was saying, he had all the means and resources. And so he exhausted every path, he found every thing he could delight himself with, accumulating all the money, all the wisdom, he went down until there was a dead end, at the end of every trail. And that's his discovery was no, all of these things were the crutches all along. My true heart's need was for my maker. And that's where you, I mean, you knew God, and you had a relation, but then you were in the ministry and all of that for years and years before that, but you came to through that crises came to a moment of just surrender.
Chris LoCurto 42:15
Yeah. For the secularists, the ability to say that something like God is a crutch, is a crutch. Right? It's the ability to say, "Oh, no, I don't need that. Because I'm too smart for that. I'm too wise. My wisdom is my crutch. My knowledge is my crutch." Right? When you think about it, what does a relationship with the God Almighty, how is that a crutch? It's much more than a crutch. It's the freakin trauma ward, right? It's the ICU. And you don't recognize it, you don't understand. It's not a crutch. It's not something that helps you get through life, you're going to get through this life and stand before him. No ifs, ands, or buts about it, it doesn't matter. It doesn't matter. If you say he doesn't exist, it doesn't matter. If you try to convince yourself that it's not gonna happen that way. It doesn't matter if you try to convince yourself that you're a good person. And you know, he'll take care of you because you were a good person. If you don't know the king of the universe, then you don't know how he operates. You don't know how he thinks, you don't know how he blesses and how he curses. And getting on my knees for more than five minutes at a time, and spending more than 15 minutes in the Bible every single day, created a pattern for me.
Brian Alex 43:32
You were like that camel. I mean, we were just talking about the needle. It has to divest all of those things, that it's burdened with, all the things that it's accumulated, and it gets down on its knees. And it wiggles its way through that narrow gate. I mean, that's exactly the experience you're describing.
Chris LoCurto 43:51
That's it. I had to take everything that I thought was important to me, and say, "Screw it all. None of it's important. There's only one thing that's important. And that's God." And it started a process that I've not ever let go of. The amount of time in study, is immense compared to what I used to do, the amount of time in prayer, the amount of time focused on God. But here's what it shifted in me. It shifted in me this, and I was never Solomon. I wasn't going after-you know, I went after money. I made a lot of money and went after some stuff.
Brian Alex 44:31
I mean, we all do, to whatever our means allow us to, I mean, we go down that path, seeking that crutch that we want to prop us up.
Chris LoCurto 44:41
But it was never my greatest motivating factor, right? Still helping people was. Taking care of people, so I was able to make a whole lot of money, while helping people at the same time. Only to come to a place of realizing that the money was never the important thing. Now, it's smart to get your butt out of debt, it's smart to give yourself options. But it's not smart to think that the money is going to be the thing that creates your sufficiency. If you're going to be self sufficient, so much like Solomon was, then at some point, God's gonna remind you that He exists. Thump is gonna come. And he's gonna remind you He is your only sufficiency, if it's up to you, it's all vain. Because you can't really do anything, no matter how much you try, you convince yourself that you're the one who creates all of your success, no you're not. God's allowed every single thing, and he can stop allowing it anytime. So to get to that place of understanding, I am 1,000% dependent upon God. And every time I try to take control, it's because I don't trust that he has my best interests at heart, and I have to do it myself. And when I stopped doing that, and I focus on, you're my sufficiency, I am insufficient, without you. And even with you, I'm still insufficient. It's only your sufficiency that allows me to be what you will need to be, what your purposes are, for me to be. So.
Brian Alex 46:17
I love that, that helps kind of put into perspective, the journey that you've been on, there is so much more that we could talk about, how about we talk about it? But maybe we make this into a part two, and we'll come back next time. I want to continue with, okay, that helps us understand the trajectory you were on, where you've gotten to now, and I'd love to unpack for people, how you as a business owner, operator, how your relationship with money now, and how that is affecting not only your team and the people around you, but the people that you're able to reach, and so I'd love to unpack all of that next time.
Chris LoCurto 46:58
That sounds good. That sounds good. You want to close it out?
Brian Alex 47:01
I don't know how. What do you want me to say? That was beautiful.
Chris LoCurto 47:07
That was a great closer right there. Folks, we hope this has helped you today. We got a lot more to talk about this. But we want you to take this information, change your leadership, change your business, and change your life, and join us on the next episode.