Main Point of Discussion: The love of money is bound to get us into trouble.
The Song: “Billionaire” by Travie McCoy (featuring Bruno Mars)
Vital Info Before You Get Started: (The following should help you contextualize this very popular song so you can have a great discussion about it with your kids.)
- Keep in mind that the official version of this song includes a few profanities (the song starts right off with a “f” bomb in the first line) so we recommend you use one of the clean versions (they are usually just homemade videos with lyrics across the screen). There are a few that can be found on YouTube like this one.
(Here’s one of the uncensored versions of the official video posted on YouTube.)
- If your kids only know the cleaned-up version of “Billionaire” (yeah, right!), keep the option open to acknowledge with your kids that while there are edited-out profanities in the cleaned-up lyrics, the overall message of the song is what’s important.
- Above all, don’t appear as if you have a “canned” discussion in your head and rattle off questions like a teacher giving a pop quiz—your kids get enough of that in school. This is a guide, primarily—not a verbatim script. Just familiarize yourself with the content here and start a conversation in the most natural, unforced way you know how.
Lyrics: (clean version)
I wanna be a billionaire so frickin’ bad
Buy all of the things I never had
Uh, I wanna be on the cover of Forbes magazine
Smiling next to Oprah and the queen
Oh every time I close my eyes
I see my name in shining lights
A different city every night
Oh I, I swear
The world better prepare
For when I’m a billionaire
Yeah I would have a show like Oprah
I would be the host of everyday Christmas
Give Travie a wish list
I’d probably pull an Angelina and Brad Pitt
And adopt a bunch of babies that ain’t never had s–t
Give away a few Mercedes like, “Here lady, have this!”
And last but not least grant somebody their last wish
It’s been a couple months since I been single so
You can call me Travie Claus minus the ho-ho
Get it I’d probably visit where Katrina hit
And d–n sure do a lot more than FEMA did
Yeah can’t forget about me stupid
Everywhere I go I’ma have my own theme music
Oh oooh oh oooh when I’m a billionaire
Oh oooh oh oooh
I’ll be playing basketball with the president
Dunkin’ on his delegates
Then I’ll compliment him on his political etiquette
Toss a couple milli in the air just for the heck of it
But keep the fives, twenties, tens, and bens completely separate
And yeah I’ll be in a whole new tax bracket
We in recession but let me take a crack at it
I’ll probably take whatever’s left and just split it up
So everybody that I love can have a couple bucks
And not a single tummy around me would know what hungry was
Eating good sleeping soundly
I know we all got a similar dream
Go in your pocket pull out your wallet
And put it in the air and sing
I wanna be a billionaire so frickin’ bad
Three Simple Questions (with Answers You May Be Looking for):
Q: What’s the message of this song?
A: The singers are obsessed with money and boast about everything they’d do with a billion dollars. They seem to believe money can change the world.
Q: How do you suppose we—as serious Christ-followers—should react to this song?
A: Money isn’t the answer to life’s problems; in fact, the love of it can cause greater problems. The pursuit of and obsession with money is dangerous. You see it every day on the news—people fight and commit murder; wealthy celebrities get multiple divorces and become substance abusers; lottery winners’ lives become ruined. All over the love of money.
Q: How can we move from healthy, Bible-based opinions about this song to actually living out those opinions?
A: The Bible says in 1 Timothy 6:9-12 (NIV)…
9 People who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge men into ruin and destruction. 10For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs. 11But you, man of God, flee from all this, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance and gentleness. 12Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called when you made your good confession in the presence of many witnesses.
Where to Take It from Here:
Wherever it feels natural. If these questions lead to a longer discussion on the topic, wonderful! (There’s a guide just after this paragraph that helps you do just that.) If your kids are barely uttering grunts, don’t get discouraged—the next time it feels right, try out another song. Keep engaging them.
For Deeper Discussion:
(If your kids seem into diving in deeper and looking at what the Bible has to say on the subject, the following discussion guide can help take you there.)
Could this song’s message, especially in these hard economic times, be striking a chord with listeners? Let’s look at things more closely, especially what the Bible has to say about the pursuit of money and greed and priorities.
More Discussion Questions:
- HAVE ALL YOUR FAMILY MEMBERS ANSWER: What would you do with a billion dollars if it was handed to you right now?
- HAVE ALL YOUR FAMILY MEMBERS ANSWER: What things would concern you or get you worried if you suddenly became a billionaire?
Read the following passage from the Bible:
- 1 Timothy 6:9-12 (NIV)
9People who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge men into ruin and destruction. 10For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs. 11But you, man of God, flee from all this, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance and gentleness. 12Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called when you made your good confession in the presence of many witnesses.
- ASK SOMEONE: According to the first verse in this passage (9), what happens to people who want to get rich? (Parent—answer you’re looking for: They fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction.)
- ASK SOMEONE: According to the second verse in the passage (10), what’s “a root of all kinds of evil”? (Parent—answer you’re looking for: The love of money. Note: It’s common for people to mistakenly quote the Bible and say that money in and of itself is the root of all evil, but that’s not true—money isn’t the problem; it’s how much we love it and covet it. Reinforce that with your family, especially if the family member who answers the question says “money” rather than “the love of money.”)
- ASK SOMEONE: In the last verses of this passage (11-12), what does Paul urge Timothy to do in response to all the obsessions over money? (Parent—answer you’re looking for: Flee from all this, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance and gentleness. Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called when you made your good confession in the presence of many witnesses.)
- HAVE ALL YOUR FAMILY MEMBERS ANSWER: What can you do this week about what you learned from this passage?
It’s common for people to say that “money makes the world go ’round”; but if you’re a Christian, you know that God alone is the one who does that trick! No doubt money has its place in our lives. It’s important. Having more of it often makes life easier and more enjoyable. But the Bible says (and I think we’ve seen enough examples just from news programs) that the love of money often leads to bad things. It’s about time that we put the pursuit and use of money in its proper place and viewed it with a proper perspective. That’s not easy to do with such a bad economy—a lot of people hear a song like “Billionaire” and start dreaming of what they’d do with that much money.
But God knows better…and can see down the road what happens to a lot of people who not only pursue riches but actually attain them. New worries come. People get jealous. Then before you know it, you don’t know who loves you for you alone and who just wants your riches. And that’s only the beginning: What about who you trust? What about who you depend on? Then all of a sudden you’re depending on money to meet your needs instead of God.
This week let’s think about this passage every time we hear someone talk about money or the economy.
Close in Prayer
Jonathan McKee is the author of over twenty books including the brand new The Bullying Breakthrough; The Teen’s Guide to Social Media & Mobile Devices; If I Had a Parenting Do Over; and the Amazon Best Seller - The Guy's Guide to God, Girls and the Phone in Your Pocket. He speaks to parents and leaders worldwide, all while providing free resources for parents on his website TheSource4Parents.com. Jonathan, his wife Lori, and their three kids live in California.