Every once in a while you meet that guy who just totally disarms all the arguments of the welfarists, welfare statists, socialists, poverty-linists, wage-gappists, etc. In this case, this guy also explodes every excuse used by many Christians as to why things like public schooling are necessary. As an example of how Christians should practice dominion, even below the federal poverty line, this man sets the mold. Then, he breaks it and sets it again—by spreading that example to others.
Meet Earl Crawley. “Mr. Earl,” as he is known, is a career parking lot attendant for a Mercantile Bank in Baltimore. He has never earned more than $12.00/hour in his life, nor more than $20,000/year. Now 77 years old, however, Earl has a stock portfolio that alone is worth a cool half-million dollars. Another story puts his full net worth at over a million.
As I watched this video segment (see below), I kept anticipating the catch, but was disproved every time. “Maybe not so hard for a single guy,” I thought. Nope, he was married. “Must not have had any kids.” Nope, he had three. This means Earl lived his home life on paper under the federal poverty level (which for a family of five even in 2015 is $28,410 annual income).
So he soaked up welfare and used the public schools? Well, we are not told of any welfare payments, but that is unlikely considering he assumed the added personal sacrifice of paying to send his children to private schools.
So debt, then, right? No. His house is paid off and he has no credit card debt. He must be some rare, standout example of street smarts, or the genius that got overlooked, right? No. In fact, he’s dyslexic. He struggled in school and never had any college education.
It just doesn’t seem possible, does it? But Earl proves that it is. And this is a lesson all Christians need to get straight sooner than later—as in, right away. Earl had no advantages but made no excuses. His mother had taught him to work and save; he just used good old fashioned thrift and self-discipline to set priorities, sacrifice according to those priorities, account for small things consistently, and eliminate waste consistently.
Through the difficult child-rearing stage, he started a strict discipline of saving a small amount of money each month. The report notes, “Earl kept saving what seemed like meaningless amounts.” But over a period of years, he eventually built up a small nest egg.
By the time the children were grown and out of the house, Earl started investing more broadly. Here he listened to others who could help him. Working in a bank parking lot, he picked the brains of numerous investors. He says, “God gave me the gift to listen, and act upon it.” And act upon it he did, but again slowly, patiently, and consistently. Over many years, he grew $25,000 into the much larger portfolio he has now.
But it was not time to retire and spend it up in tropical resorts. No way. Mr. Earl instead passes on his knowledge and example. He started an investment club at his church, donating small amounts to get some parishioners started, and donating to the church as well. The club set a goal to train every member of the church in successful management of their money.
Mr. Earl not only proves that the welfare state and public schools are unnecessary—even for those technically in “poverty”—but he has done what many much more wealthy men in churches across the country ought to be doing. Men with sound financial sense and success ought to maintain such clubs in their churches to help people (especially young people) learn such self-discipline and foresight. Instruction ought to include training to set priorities, get children out of public schools, make sacrifices at home in order to achieve such goals, eliminate waste, save consistently and without compromise, and invest with a long-term view to the future.
I said above that Mr. Earl is a poster-child for what Christian dominion should look like. Too often we think of “dominion” as “domination” and “domineering” when in reality it means stewardship, faithfulness, calling, and often thankless work. Mr. Earl shows us what true dominion is: steady, patient faithfulness in the small things—never quitting and never compromising. It means faithfulness for every gift given—whether the gift of listening, the gift of work, or a mere 15 cents earned—and faithfulness in teaching others to be good stewards as well.
Frankly, the church can learn more about Christian living by watching this $12.00/hour parking lot attendant than it can from the vast majority of sermons preached one any given Sunday.