Easy Money

But those who want to be rich fall into temptation and a trap… 1 TIMOTHY 6:9 LEXHAM ENGLISH BIBLE

If ever these words proved to be true and fitting, it could be argued that the recent sorry tale of Sam Allardyce’s spectacular fall from his dream job of England manager is the prime example.

Having secured this dream job, onlookers are astonished that he would jeopardise it so quickly by agreeing to the “business meeting” that was, in truth, a newspaper sting and that so brutally ended his short tenure in the England hot seat.

There can be no credible explanation other than that Big Sam, riding high on the crest of a wave, was looking to augment his considerable salary as England team boss by “consulting” to people seeking his influence and insight. That is not necessarily a bad thing. Football can be a cruel and fickle game and Allardyce, being very experienced in the industry, understands the need to make hay while the sun shines. It is no crime to seek to maximise one’s earnings capacity and take advantage of the position attained.

This is why this Scripture verse is so potent because it is not about the perfectly healthy and wise pursuit of riches and financial increase but about the extremely unwise and desperate greed for more. It is not wrong to want to get rich; it is wrong – and very stupid – if that desire is from a place of avarice.

The temptation to get more regardless of the ethics is what motivated Sam Allardyce, as is evident from the footage seen. And in his case he fell into the literal trap sprung for him by Telegraph reporters.

Of course, you could make the argument that it was not very ethical for these reporters to spring such a trap and be looking to torpedo the England manager so early into the job but that is journalism and if there was no wrongdoing by Allardyce, it wouldn’t be a story. At least not the one they were looking for.

Football is a murky business but it is not unique in that sense and people looking to circumvent rules and regulations is hardly a new concept either. The point could be made that Big Sam was just being worldly and realistic in a sport where such things are mandatory if you want to get ahead. People in other professions often cut corners and tell others how to do the same so we can be spared the indignation of the self-righteous. The punishment for Allardyce has already been satisfied – he has lost his dream job and been humiliated into the bargain. In that respect, the case is closed.

It is the lesson we must take with us. Desire for increase is healthy and needful in life and business. But when you cross that line into avarice and greed, you lose your sense of not only right and wrong but of prudence. The pundits I heard remark on the Allardyce affair were astonished that he gave away so much confidentially to people he had just met. They were not shocked by what he told them so much as he seemed to have lost his sense of prudence and discernment.

Loving money will do that to you. The full Scripture verse which is partly quoted above says:

But those who want to be rich fall into temptation and a trap and many foolish and harmful desires, which plunge those people into ruin and destruction. 1 TIMOTHY 6:9 LEXHAM ENGLISH BIBLE

Sam Allardyce will today be regretting the decision to speak to the bogus businessmen who turned out to be snooping journos. Although he is hardly likely to be skint following his abrupt departure from the England manager’s job, he has seen plenty of ruin and destruction because of the whole sad episode.

Personally, I like Big Sam and hope he bounces back. Whether or not he learns the lesson from this is down to him. What is important is we all can learn from it.

If you want something that much you are prepared to risk your reputation and livelihood for it, you need to re-evaluate. Because, as the next verse in 1 Timothy chapter 6 tells us so starkly and powerfully:

The love of money is the root of all evil.

Leaders will often be exposed to the temptation to get more money by dubious means and sources. “Sure things” and irrefusable propositions will come to anybody who is in leadership. Business leaders will get offered shady deals that will be tempting to take up. Politicians will be offered “funding” to support a cause or organisation. Sports people will be given incentives that will compromise their integrity. Civic officials will be bribed to “look away” at a certain moment or place.

A big part of many a leader’s role is to maximise income so the desire for more is a vital part of the toolkit for those who lead. But this desire must be tempered with prudence, probity and integrity because ill-gotten gains are ruinuous in the long run. You must be strong enough in yourself to reject the pressure to go with the flow and make “easy money” – if that money has the power to damage you, your job and your organisation.

Very often the easy thing about easy money is how easy it is to lose yourself and sell your soul for it…