Winning ticket would ruin adversity’s lesson

Donald Lawson, 44, of Lapeer just won the third largest ever Powerball lottery jackpot, valued at $337 million. It fueled all kinds of Tevye-style “If I Were a Rich Man” speculative song in the hearts and minds of those who heard the news. Everyone at work was abuzz with excitement. “Isn’t that cool!” Well, yes. “Can you imagine having that kind of money?” Well, no. “Lucky guy!” Well, maybe.

If Lawson had been a good and grateful steward of what he had previous to purchasing the winning ticket, he’ll do fine. But if not, he’ll soon be cruising toward nine-digit, bigger ticket trouble. For no one, especially not lottery winners, gets to truly escape the truism, “The way you do anything is the way you do everything.”

I have another quote on my computer armoire that reads, “If you do little things well, you’ll do big ones better.” That thought packs quite a paper cut. Historically, upon hearing the accounts of other lottery winners, I liked to think I would be different and better in how I would handle such good fortune, should it choose to smile upon me. However, the more realistic side of me knew better. For I had read somewhere, okay in Luke 12:48 (KJV), “For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required.”

Few of us are ready for that kind of responsibility. Yet it doesn’t stop us from regularly hoping for it and sometimes even praying to be rewarded with that for which we are ultimately not prepared to successfully manage.

What’s trained me best for any upcoming good fortune I might experience has been my forced practice in keeping my head, my purpose and my faith despite the last two years of butt-kicking emotional and financial adversity. Adversity has brought me to my knees in gratitude and helped me remain standing despite the rug of life being pulled out from under me. It’s taught me who’s who and what’s what in a way random abundance never could. Brokenness contains a blessing for those open to receive it.

I don’t know much about Lawson, but a newspaper account of his response to winning the lottery said he had already urged several family members to quit their jobs. Uh oh. That suggests that rather than building on an existing structure of life that was purposeful and working well, he’s heading off into unchartered, spending fool territory, complete with an entourage.

Some of my middle- and high-school-aged students asked what I would do if I won the lottery. I told them I would be extremely surprised, as I hadn’t bought a lottery ticket. But let’s assume I had bought the winning ticket. Nothing could be more false than their assumption I wouldn’t be at work the next day. No, there is nowhere I would rather be than at work, winning ticket in hand; greater confidence in my step.

Knowing I had a ton of wealth to fall back on would make me take much bigger risks in how I approach life and work: the kind of risks I probably should trust myself to take anyway, regardless of my financial status. But haven’t I already started doing that? Hasn’t adversity consistently put me in a position that tests my mettle and fuels my resourcefulness?

Since 2010, I haven’t had much of a choice but to do many of the scary things that formerly were outside of my comfort zone or comfortable reach. Stretchhhhh. Maybe I should simply continue to allow myself to think even bigger and much further outside of the box than I ever imagined. Thanks, Donald Lawson, for reminding me of the many assets I already have, without money needing to be one of them.

Was the $337 million Lawson won a response to his faithfulness, humility and ability to be a blessing to others? Or might it be a cleverly disguised blessing of brokenness necessary to help him grow? Only God can know. And he won’t tell. One thing’s for sure: He sent adversity to be my muse, to guide my thinking, and to light my path toward personal prosperity – using a flashlight from Dollar General. But hey, it works.


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