When we lack certain things, the joy of living is diminished. In some instances we may become severely distressed and even incapacitated by such lack. When we are sick, in other words, when we lack good health, it is not a happy situation and we do all we can to regain our health. When someone is poor, that is, when they lack money and material possessions, life is not very enjoyable. Such a person is not able to live the way they wish or do the things they want. Poverty oppresses and incapacitates. As individuals and as nations, we all are desirous to distance ourselves from poverty.

Likewise, life is not so full and joyful when we fail to find happiness and fulfillment in relationships and in our work. (By relationships, I mean relationship with God and with our fellow human beings). The deep desires we have to commune with deity and to love and be loved by others are emotional needs we are born with. And so we find that human beings experience want in three identifiable areas. Life requires us to cope with physical, material and spiritual wants.

The saying, "health is wealth" implies that someone in good health can be said to have physical wealth. When a person has a lot of money and material possessions we describe them as being materially wealthy. In the same vein, when someone finds happiness and fulfillment in relationships and in their work, they can be said to possess spiritual wealth. And this brings us to the concept of total wealth. To have total wealth is to be completely free from physical, material and spiritual lack. This is the holistic model of success. A person is truly wealthy only when they have gained total wealth.

In general, people tend to be primarily concerned with their material wellbeing. Hence they focus on striving for material wealth. But thanks to the likes of Jane Fonda, the American fitness buff who helped to popularize the "keep fit" trend. There is now an awareness of the health risks inherent in the sedentary life style engendered by technological advancement. These days, being healthy is not just about being free from sickness. One has to be physically fit. Lots of people are now adopting the proactive approach of exercising regularly to maintain good health and keep fit. Many have realized the need to actively pursue wealth of the physical kind.

However, acquiring spiritual wealth is one goal most people cannot be said to be striving hard to attain. And to think that this ought to be our first priority. When someone gains spiritual wealth, they are guaranteed to also gain material and physical wealth. If you have any reservations about this assertion, then listen to the wise counsel of one of the world’s greatest spiritual luminaries, Jesus Christ of Nazareth:

"Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink, or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes? Look at the birds of the air, they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?

"And why do you worry about clothes? See how the lilies of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? So do not worry saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well." (The Bible (NIV), Mathew 6:25-33).

But what is there to lose if someone chooses not to bother with the pursuit of spiritual wealth? The answer to this question can be found by taking a close look at the lives of some prominent individuals.

When it comes to fame and fortune, very few people can match Michael Jackson. He rose so high as a star that the tag, superstar was just not good enough for him and so he has been dubbed, megastar. The singer has undoubtedly raked in fabulous amounts as earnings from record sales worldwide. But in spite of his phenomenal career success, he has not found happiness and fulfillment in close relationships. His marriage to Priscilla Presley did not turn out to be blissful. He has been involved in other relationships that ended on a sour and acrimonious note with settlements taking place in and out of court. Michael Jackson may rank as one of the richest and most famous men in the world, but he certainly is not one of the happiest. Riches and popularity are simply not enough. We need spiritual wealth to guarantee happiness and fulfillment in life.

The late Princess Diana had everything going for her, it seemed. She became a member of one of the world’s most loved and respected royal families by marriage. In terms of material wealth and social status, her union with British royalty catapulted her to the very top. However, the love of God and fellow man, which are pointers to spiritual wealth, were not particularly evident in her private life. In marriage, the closest of human relationships, happiness and fulfillment eluded her. In time, she slid from the position of dream princess to the level of adulterous spouse and then chose to tag along as girlfriend to a wealthy businessman. We all know the tragic end to her story. She was killed in a car crash while on a trip with her lover.

As monarch of an oil producing Arab State, the late King Hussein of Jordan enjoyed the affluence and influence that come with his position. But while all was well materially, he was wanting in physical wealth. Even the best doctors in the United States could not save him from the cancer that put an end to his reign while he was still in his sixties. Money cannot always secure good health much less procure longevity. Only the possession of spiritual wealth will enable us attain and maintain happiness, good health and success in life.

In the Parable of the Rich Fool, Jesus confirms that there is a price to pay when we fail to make acquiring spiritual wealth our first priority, (The Bible, Luke 12:13-21):

"Someone in the crowd said to him, “Teacher, tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me.” Jesus replied, “Man, who appointed me a judge or an arbiter between you?” Then he said to them, “Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; a man’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.”

And he told them this parable: “The ground of a certain rich man produced a good crop. He thought to himself, ‘What shall I do? I have no place to store my crops.’ “Then he said, ‘This is what I’ll do. I will tear down my barns and build bigger ones, and there I will store all my grains and my goods. And I will say to myself, “You have plenty of good things laid up for many years. Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry.”’

But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?’ This is how it will be with anyone who stores up things for himself but is not rich towards God.”

If the reader is still not convinced of the wisdom of striving for spiritual wealth, the statement I am about to quote should settle the matter. It was made by someone who has chased after the material as well as the spiritual kind of wealth.

Sir John Templeton is one of America’s most successful financial investors. He is reputed to have created some of the world’s largest and most successful international investment funds. Later, he sold his various Templeton Funds to the Franklin Group for $440 million. Now in his nineties, he is a fulltime philanthropist. Through the John Templeton Foundation, which he established, he gives away about $40 million a year to funding work aimed at discovering and advancing scientific knowledge about the spiritual aspect of life. For his many accomplishments, he was knighted Sir John by Queen Elizabeth II in 1987.

Here is what this extraordinary individual has to say about what the pursuit of spiritual wealth has done to his life: "I focus on spiritual wealth now, and I am busier, more enthusiastic, and more joyful than I have ever been."

In terms of quality of life, we all want the best for ourselves and total wealth is the very best that life has to offer us. Be wise, strive for it.

Author's Bio: 

Emmanuel Emezie is the founder and leader of Total Wealth Movement – an organization that aims at enlightening the global community about the Total Wealth model of success. This holistic model of success entails gaining physical wealth (good health), material wealth (money and material possessions) and spiritual wealth (wealth that derives from spiritual knowledge). Human beings must strive for total wealth if we are to enjoy completely happy and successful lives. For more information visit: www.totalwealthmovement.org