Book Review: Thou Shall Prosper: 10 Commandments for Making Money

In general I would say the book Thou Shall Prosper by Rabbi Daniel Lapin was a good read. I liked his principles, even though I thought almost everything he said could have been done in a more concise way. The book is almost 400 pages long. With some tighter editing, it could have easily been under 300 pages. He was fond of giving four illustrations when one or two would have been sufficient.

Good book. Too long.

Book cover for Thou Shall ProsperHis 10 Commandments for Making Money are:

  1. Believe in the Dignity and Morality of Business
  2. Extend the Network of your Connectedness to Many People
  3. Get to Know Yourself
  4. Do Not Pursue Perfection
  5. Lead Consistently and Constantly
  6. Constantly Change the Changeable, While Steadfastly Clinging to the Unchangeable
  7. Learn to Foretell the Future
  8. Know Your Money
  9. Act Rich: Give Away 10% of Your After Tax Income
  10. Never Retire

Here are some thoughts on what he had to say with some of these points.

Commandment 1: Believe in the Dignity and Morality of Business

His main takeaway point with this is that so often people look down at business as if it were something immoral or wicked. That may sound like an absurd statement to you, but I think he is very right. Look at many of the villains in movies and TV shows. A great number of them are business owners. Sitcoms are rife with people hating their boss and hating work. Our culture has done much to vilify business owners just in the area of media alone.

The truth is that most business owners are morally upright people. You can’t stay in business long if your whole goal is to cheat your customers out of their money. Though it is covered later in the book, he talks about how just doing business, as an owner or as a client, creates greater wealth for all parties. Let me give you an example.

Right now I have a TV being repaired. The unit was given to me by a friend after it got hit by lightening. It was worth nothing to my friend since he was going to throw it out and buy a new one. I think that if the TV was working I could sell it for $150 to $200. But I am not willing to pay that much for a repair. I found a repairman who will do the work for me for $100. In the end I will have a TV that I could probably sell for $150 to $200, yet it only cost me $100 to repair. The repairman has to buy the part and install it. He told me today that the part costs $50 and he will do the repair for $50 for his time. I suspect this repair will take him much less than 2 hours to do. Do I begrudge paying him $25 to $50 an hour? No. Do I feel like he is cheating me? No. Yet in the end, he has $50 profit that he can use to pay his bills. I will have invested $100 to get a TV that I believe is worth more than $100. Potential wealth has been created for both of us just because we conducted business with one another. I say potential wealth since I don’t plan on selling the TV right away. I plan to use it for a year or two and then sell it for $100 and upgrade to a bigger and better unit.

Commandment 2: Extend the Network of your Connectedness to Many People

Making money can’t be done in a vacuum. You have to build relationships. That is true in business and it is true in ministry. If you cut yourself off from people then you won’t do well in building wealth.

Commandment 6: Constantly Change the Changeable, While Steadfastly Clinging to the Unchangeable

Roll with the punches of life and business, but don’t let go of the anchors we have in good business principles. Some businesses that have come and gone rapidly are ones that ignore the time-tested principles of making money. Looking back on the Dot Com bubble of the late ’90s it is not hard to see why some of the businesses failed. They tried to move too far away from sound business practice. Yet, we also know of businesses that have failed because they refused to catch up with the times and make changes where necessary.

This one can be a tough one to navigate, but if you know your industry well enough, you should be able to make wise business decisions.

Commandment 9: Act Rich: Give Away 10% of Your After Tax Income

There is something about giving money away that makes us more content with what we have. I think there are many religions that have some kind of teaching about giving away money to charitable causes. As a Christian, I see where the Bible teaches about tithing and giving offerings above the tithe. In churches people often give testimonies about how when they started tithing or giving to missions then their own personal wealth increased. Rabbi Lapin makes a very compelling argument to become more generous for your own prosperity’s sake.

Commandment 10: Never Retire

Our culture has ingrained into us that we should work until we are 65 and then sit down and do nothing. It really is an incredibly crazy idea. Certainly you may not be able to work in the physical capacity you did when you were 30 years old, but you have much experience you can contribute to a business. If you work because you enjoy what you are doing then you will probably enjoy doing it past “retirement age” too.

Too often it is seen that when people stop being productive in society that they rapidly deteriorate physically and mentally. You may not have a 40 hour a week job that actually pays you money, but you should try to continue to be productive as long as possible. Though I am nowhere near retirement age, I see the effect that traditional retirement has had on older friends. I think I would rather keep working and being active.

The last two commandments were worth reading Thou Shall Prosper. But getting to those two (or any two that interest you) necessitates wading through way too many pages and examples than what I really wanted. I am glad I made it through the book, but it certainly was not easy.

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