Journal Entry: Robert Thwaites-02/20/2024-From simply ambitious into envious

Journal Entry

From simply ambitious into envious.

Driving through a nicer neighborhood today left me feeling sad. It was interesting. It wasn’t much nicer than my current neighborhood, but everyone seemed to take better care of their yards, which made the neighborhood look nice. I’m not sure why it left me feeling this way. Did I feel that the people lived here are better than me because they’re in a nicer neighborhood? Perhaps. I know that the amount of material possessions or money in the bank that one possesses does not correlate to the quality of the person or the intrinsic value of the person. It’s clear from scripture that all are created equal in the eyes of the Lord.

Ever since college going through my finance degree (literally a degree in making more money) the amount of money you had or managed related directly to how good you were at business. A very true statement at face value. The better you do at your job, or the more value you create for customers, the more income you will earn. EARN. Not given. Just because you are smart or talented, doesn’t mean that you inherently deserve to live an easy, wealthy, perfect life. Want to make more money? Provide more value. Even that is a tough statement with a lot of clauses. Do public school teachers not provide a lot of value? I have been a stay at home dad raising my two daughters for nearly 3 years. Since my income is practically nothing, does that mean my value is practically nothing?

“Business is a game and money is how you keep score” is a phrase that friends and I used almost with pride through college and early in careers. As a former collegiate athlete, competition is something inherent to my being. I don’t like to lose poker games. I don’t like to lose arguments. I don’t like to lose bedtime struggles with my daughter. Based on that phrase, I am losing in the game of business to those that have more money than me. Almost as though not having enough money felt I was losing at life as well. For the last 3 years I haven’t even been working a career, why would I compare myself to those that are in business?

Something Pastor Brad White said during his sermon at Fellowship Church a few weeks ago really hit home with me: “You might not be happy with your house, but it’s your house. You might not be happy with your job, but it’s the job you have. You might not be happy with the money in your bank account, but it’s what you have.”

I have been comparing myself to others more successful than myself for too long. Im not talking about admiring those more successful, or trying to learn their strategies. I am talking about a direct comparison of what I have vs. what they have. I completely ignored the fact that they may have had different starting points, more years in that business developing their skills, that they had to build what they have, that they could have failed and started over. I somehow expected myself in my mid twenties to be as successful as a 50 year old who has been in the industry for 30 years. That was a comparison that I would lose every time. Constantly losing and constantly engaging in that comparison, I was becoming envious. I wanted what they had. I wanted to finally win in business, as if that would give me the sort of internal value I was looking for. This drove me to cut corners and take shortcuts in order to be at the level I thought I should be.

Looking back at what I was doing, I was a fool. I was selling high value investments to those with net worths typically over 3 million while my wife and I had maxed out credit cards. I was jealous. Not to mention it fits in with the devil’s narrative saying that you’re not good enough rather than knowing your self worth as a child of God. I was not at the point in my walk with God to say no when the opportunity to learn more about a potential deal was presented that was shady from the beginning. I had a weak point in my character. It wasn’t drugs, other women, appearance, or anything else, but the offer of $500,000 per month for 18 months for playing liaison without putting any money up myself seemed like an offer I couldn’t refuse.

Through my degree program and previous investment experience, risk was measured as the potential loss of capital. If I wasn’t putting any money up, I couldn’t lose anything, therefore I had no risk. I told myself that since I wasn’t putting up any money for the deal, it wasn’t my responsibility to check the legality of the deal either. I convinced myself that all the legal research and potential ramifications and/or penalties would fall upon the group putting up the money and structured the deal in the first place.

Looking back now, this was just a way of convincing myself that I wasn’t in the wrong. Doing illegal activities didn’t fit into my self image. Rather than not doing an action that didn’t fit my moral code, I changed the way I saw the action so that it would fit into my weak identity of self. Present day Rob has a stronger moral conviction than anyone else you will meet, as I have experienced first hand the benefits and consequences of adhering to a moral, ethical, and legal code.

The key takeaway points from this post should be this:

  • God has made you the way you are intended to be.
  • You are just as valuable in the eyes of the Lord as anyone else on this planet.
  • You might not be happy with what you have, but it’s where you are. Use every day as your starting point.
  • Stand strong, and do the right thing, no matter what.

Rob Thwaites