Main Point of Discussion: The love of money is bound to get us into trouble.
The Song: “Billionaire”
In June 2010, McCoy released his first solo album, Lazarus, and “Billionaire” is its first single. Bruno Mars is a singer-songwriter and producer who cowrote “Billionaire” with McCoy and performs its main vocals, leaving the rapping to McCoy.
Keep in mind that the official version of this song includes a few profanities 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.)
It may also help to acknowledge with your students that there are edited-out profanities in the lyrics, but that the overall message of the song is what’s important.
Introducing the Song:
We’re going to take a deeper look at the worldview behind the big pop song, “Billionaire,” a tune most of you are probably familiar with. Let’s check it out.
[Bruno Mars verse]
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
[Travis “Travie” McCoy]
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
[Travis “Travie” McCoy]
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
[Bruno Mars verse]
I wanna be a billionaire so frickin’ bad
“Billionaire” is a catchy single that a whole lot of people love—but is that because of the smooth singing, pretty melodies, and clever rapping? Or could the song’s message, especially in these hard economic times, be striking a chord with listeners? The Bible definitely has a few things to say about some of the lyrics by Travie McCoy and Bruno Mars.
Divide into Small Groups:
Let’s go ahead and split up into our discussion groups, and then afterward we’ll come back together for a final word.
CLICK HERE for a quick training article on how to maximize your small groups using our small group format—a great resource to equip your small group leaders.
- AROUND THE CIRCLE: Before we dive in, everybody tell us your name and how many billionaires you believe are in the United States.
- AROUND THE CIRCLE: Here’s the answer: Of the 300 or so million people in America, there are only 371 billionaires—about one billionaire for every million U.S. citizens! Okay…one more trivia question: If you laid down one billion $1 bills on their sides and pressed them all tightly together, how far would that sideways stack stretch? (Answer: 67 miles! That’s like looking out the passenger window of a car that’s driving down the freeway and seeing sideways-stacked $1 bills for an entire hour!)
- ASK A FEW: Okay, I think we’ve shown that being a billionaire is a pretty rare thing…and that a billion dollars is a whole lot of money. According to the first lines of the song, what does the singer want to do with his money once he’s a billionaire? (Leader—answer you’re looking for: Buy all the things he’s never had.)
- ASK A FEW: Is that the only reason people would want a billion dollars? If so, why? If not, what are some other reasons?
- ASK A FEW: There are quite a few superficial things the singer would do with his billion dollars—but can you remember any positive things he’d do with the money? (Leader—answer you’re looking for: Grant last wishes, help out Katrina victims, give everyone food and places to sleep.)
- ASK A FEW: Since the recession began a couple of years ago, what have you noticed in conversations between adults? What have your parents been saying to you about the economy?
- AROUND THE CIRCLE: What would you do with a billion dollars if it was handed to you right now?
- AROUND THE CIRCLE: 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.
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! All God has to say is, “Game over,” and our lives and concerns and pursuits and worries and battles and all the petty things we fill our days with would end instantly. The world keeps spinning on its axis, the sun keeps shining, the rain keeps falling, we keep breathing…because God lets it happen.
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 pulled right from our own headlines) 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. How all their problems would immediately end. 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 a piece of your bank account. 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.
There’s nothing wrong with planning ahead and dreaming of good, practical things you can do with money. But when it becomes an obsession, that’s when problems begin. This week I want to challenge each of you to think about this passage that Paul wrote to Timothy every time you hear someone talk about money or the economy. Think especially about the last verses:
- “But you, man of God, 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.”
Close in Prayer
Written by David Urbanski
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 youth workers on TheSource4YM.com. Jonathan, his wife Lori, and their three kids live in California.