Discovering the lost art of stewardship

Cornelius Vanderbilt achieved the 7th largest fortune ever accumulated, yet only 48 years after his death, there was nothing left. A direct descendant died penniless, and every one of the famed Vanderbilt Fifth Avenue Mansions were torn down. The Vanderbilt generations are as well known for their failed marriages and drug addictions as they are for their accomplishments and talent for foolhardy spending. While most of us cannot relate to the problem of having millions to lose, it is essential to understand the mechanics of wise stewardship when building any kind of fortune of your own.   

It is the rule rather than the exception that money will not stay in your life unless you have the wisdom to take care of it.

I admit the word stewardship sounds a bit old-fashioned, but the concept is not only timeless but wise. Closely related to responsibility, a life based on stewardship, or more specifically on taking responsibility, is one of the core principles necessary for building a RichLife. While Cornelius built himself a fortune of millions, he also gave millions away, establishing the Vanderbilt University in Nashville and living in a modest home that was easy to care for.

Stewardship is the behavior of an accountable person. Its root word is keeper, meaning one who cares for and manages people and things.

The careful management of that which has been given to us pertains to many facets of life, not just money. But changing the way we treat those assets, including the way we treat money, can result in a drastic and life changing shift.

It comes down to one important distinction: Do we view our talents and physical possessions as something we own and are entitled to?  Or as special gifts that have been entrusted to our keeping?

This month we are going to talk about the application of wise stewardship with regard to each of these three asset classes:

·        Human            

·        Physical

·        Financial

Human assets are often the most easily overlooked, but give someone six months left to live, and they won’t be out there seeking promotions or buying cars. They will be spending time with loved ones. In an interview with CBS news, Gloria Vanderbilt talked about how at age 10 she gained the family fortune, but lost what she really wanted – a relationship with her mother. Human assets include family relationships as well as friends, and the balancing act of our own time and energy.

Stuff is the way I like to think of our physical assets. This category includes our house, our cars, and our favorite chair, as well as anything that could fit in a suitcase.   

And finally Money, what most of us think of first, but in the grand scheme of things really comes in last. We will talk about utilization verses accumulation, and how you can keep money – and the stuff you accumulate –  in their proper place, as tools to serve you rather than the other way around.

With regards to all three asset classes, the application of wise stewardship is the quickest way to attract more of whatever you want in life.

Take good care of what you already have,

and more of it will come your way.


By the same token, the quickest way to loose what you have is through neglect and self-centered thinking. To apply this first principal of caring for what you already have, this week’s call to action is simple and even kinda fun.

ACT Before you Think

Yes, you get to go against what your mother has always told you. When that paycheck arrives, act overjoyed! When your spouse arrives late, be glad to see them! Don’t think about the unpaid bills, the short comings and the flaws. Look at the check in your hand, the person in front of you, and appreciate what or who they are.

Being grateful for the people and things in your life can radically turn things around. I challenge you to apply this to one area of your life today and watch what happens. Please, tell me about your experience. I’d love to hear it!

For more tips on how you can apply the principal of wise stewardship to your everyday life, get a copy of Beau’s newest book, The RichLife, 10 Investments forTrue Wealth at 

Beau Henderson is a financial advisor, author, coach, radio personality, and CEO of RichLife Advisors. He has helped over 3,000 clients to not just improve their relationship with money, but to live the life of their dreams.







About Beau Henderson

Beau Henderson is a financial advisor, author, coach, radio personality, and CEO of RichLife Advisors. He has helped over 3,000 clients to not just improve their relationship with money, but to live the life of their dreams.


  1. Olga Hermans on May 11, 2011 at 6:16 pm

    HI Beau, this is quite a story. My family would be proof to what you wrote here. My father's father had died when he was 11, but he took full responsibility for the bakery at that time and built it up into the millions. He was recognized by mayors and commissioners in The Netherlands for the business insight he had. He died when he was 57, which brought our whole family in a total shock. My mom died two years later. He hadn't raised us up in the financial side of how we were living. I don't know what happened to us, but it was not good; most of the kids went of the deep end. At this very moment nothing is left any more; no buildings, no nothing. I have always wondered how that could have happened. Very sad….but: God is able to restore everything!

  2. Beau Henderson on May 11, 2011 at 6:29 pm

    Wow Olga,

    What a powerful story and example.  I do look forward to seeing you thrive and sharing these lessons with so many people who need to hear them.

  3. denny hagel on May 11, 2011 at 6:42 pm

    Beau, I love the theme of this article and think it is so timely for what so many are seeing as a time of loss….jobs, homes, savings etc. But you speak a powerful truth when you say we must be grateful and value what we do have. Great article!

  4. Sean Smith on May 11, 2011 at 8:07 pm

    Love it, Beau!  You're really a genius at helping people sift through all the programming we've been given about what we're SUPPOSED TO want in our lives – money, cars, houses, "stuff" – and instead focus on what we truly want in our lives individually.  Wealth is different for every single one of us.  Thank you for that reminder.

  5. Beau Henderson on May 12, 2011 at 5:58 pm

    I agree Denny, it seems that we are wired to focus on the things that we do not like.  The problem is that brings more of that very thing into our lives.  Think if we could get teachers and parents to help kids reverse this process at an early age.  Talk about a priceless gift!

  6. Beau Henderson on May 12, 2011 at 6:00 pm

    You are right Sean.  The world sells of a faulty definition of being rich, when in reality it means 100 different things to 100 different people.  Unfortunately, most continue to buy what the world is selling instead of what makes their life fulfilled.

  7. Carol Douthitt on May 12, 2011 at 7:04 pm

    I recently read a biography of Cornelius Vanderbilt – quite the colorful family history. His grandson George Vanderbilt (and his heirs) must have understood the stewardship of money.  One of my very favorite places to visit in the world is his restored mansion in Asheville, NC. – The Biltmore Estate.  A once popular place for visiting royalty, the entire grounds has an energy filled with beauty, elegance and abundance.  I "feel" rich every time I visit … which has been every year for the past 4 years.  It really is a magical place!

  8. Carla J Gardiner on May 16, 2011 at 3:06 pm

    Thank you for such a perfect example of life today. You really nailed how most of us, including me at times views and handles (or mishandles) money and relationships. It was such a privilege to have met you this weekend at the Mastermind in Chicago. After experiencing many of the situations you describe in this article, I am ready to pay attention and implement your key points. Thanks for bringing your area of expertise to all of us in business and life in general.

  9. Elvie Look on May 22, 2011 at 1:39 am

    Your words ring deep with me because my husband Ken has actually died a couple of times. Each day is a gift and I appreciate the time we spend together. Of course with the medical issues, we now have some financial issues, but we try to focus on what is really important. Enjoyed your post.

  10. Sharon on June 17, 2011 at 6:53 pm

    Hmmm this post really made me think about how I view money. I think sometimes we believe that it would be great if somehow we got money given to us by something like a distant relative or winning the lottery, but if I don’t have the right mindset (stewardship) it really doesn’t matter.
    Sharon Worsley
    4 Diamond Leadership ™

  11. Samirian @MoneyWisdoms on July 24, 2011 at 3:25 pm

     Beau, Great Article.  I like how you emphasized human and physical capital as well.  The Bible tells us everything we need to manage our money wisely, and you summed it up all in this article: wise stewardship, contentment, and gratitude. While most of us are striving for more, more, more; are we taking care of what we have been given and do we value ourselves and relationships?  We want want more, but at what expense?
    Samirian Hill, The MoneyWise Teacher

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