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Contributed Photo by Bo Wagner / A recent chess game between Bo Wagner and his daughter reminded him how haste makes waste in chess and in life.

As I survey the granite battlefield on top of my black walnut desk, the carnage is, to be blunt, breathtaking. One lone white king, utterly deprived of any other allies on the entire board, sits surrounded by my queen, two knights, one bishop and two pawns. My king, four other pawns and both castles are simply sitting back as if casual observers to the devastation.

My daughter, an absolute genius, nonetheless did not do so well after challenging me to an impromptu game of chess last night before our family conversation and prayer time. To be fair, she has only played once or twice before, and it has been many years since she has even done that. Given her ultra-high intelligence, with some practice and guidance, I have no doubt that she would be a formidable opponent.

I am a reasonably good chess player, I suppose, though certainly not a Kasparov or anything of the sort. But any seasoned chess player of any skill level probably could have predicted the way the game was going to go within the first half-dozen moves on either side. You see, my daughter immediately set about trying to take my king. She seemed to have the notion that the goal of the game is to take the crown with the barest minimum of time and effort, simply bypassing everything else along the way.

And that is the exact opposite of the way I tend to play. While, in theory, I do have the ability to take a king in fairly short order, I recognize it for the fool's errand that such an attempt normally is. It may work once in a very rare while, but for the most part, it just loses games for you. My preferred methodology of play, therefore, is to pick the smaller pieces off one by one until, at best, my opponent has just the king and a pawn or two left to him. I can then safely checkmate the king at my leisure.

When I woke up this morning, I was still musing on that game. It seemed to me to be such a good example of how far too many people in this generation view life and success. Where older generations understood the concept of entry-level jobs, working their way up and saving and investing for the long term, the mindset of our day seems to eschew that "old-fashioned" methodology.

And it is indeed old-fashioned. Several thousand years worth of old-fashioned, actually.

Proverbs 13:11 says, "Wealth gotten by vanity [empty, substanceless means] shall be diminished: but he that gathereth by labour shall increase." Proverbs 21:5 follows that same line of thought, saying, "The thoughts of the diligent tend only to plenteousness; but of every one that is hasty only to want." Simply put, people with a "get rich quick" mentality normally experience a "stay poor forever" reality.

I know a man in the prime of life who is strong, healthy and stupid. That is blunt, I know, but it is also accurate. By this point in his life, he could have had nearly 20 years of steady work and steady gathering and steady gains to show for all of that work and gathering. But instead, he has spent obscene amounts of money on lottery tickets, get-rich-quick schemes and "can't miss business ventures" that he never worked hard enough at to make successful. He has absolutely nothing, and all of that nothingness has merely convinced him of the need for more lottery tickets.

And one certainly does not have to look too far to find young people who immediately want a salary equal or superior to what their parents made after 40 years of work, a house bigger and better than what their parents had after 40 years of moving up and a portfolio bigger than what their parents had after 40 years of saving and investing.

I do not say this as some sneering insult from a geezer of 51 to "those blasted whippersnappers" currently in their teens and twenties and thirties. I say it as a happy and blessed man who wants absolutely everyone to experience equal or greater happiness and blessing than I have.

So listen up, and let me give you a quick summary of how to have everything you want in life.

Start by staying a virgin until you get married. Babies who have babies tend to be poor for life. Then once you are married, stay married and stay 100% faithful to your spouse for life. That gives you the potential benefit of double earning and saving power and also keeps your resources from being drained by lawyers and divorces and alimony.

Start saving and investing from your very first job. A 16-year-old with a regularly funded retirement account will likely be a 60-year-old with a house on the beach somewhere. And be sure not to drill holes in your own financial boat. By that, I mean you should never drink, smoke, gamble or do drugs. All of those things cost you huge sums of money that could have become much larger still by investing those "sin expenditures" instead, and they also wreck your health and therefore also wreck your earning capacity.

And stay out of debt. Being in debt is like trying to run a marathon while carrying an obese cannibal on your back who is slowing you down with his weight while simultaneously noshing on your shoulder.

The crown can be gained. But if you try to get it all at once, you will simply end up making others rich off of your haste and foolishness.

Bo Wagner is pastor of Cornerstone Baptist Church of Mooresboro, North Carolina, a widely traveled evangelist and the author of several books available on Amazon and at www.wordofhismouth.com. Email him at 2knowhim@cbc-web.org.

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Pastor Bo Wagner
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