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The Richest Man in Kentucky – B. Wayne Hughes or Wayne B Smith?

by Bob Russell

Bob Russell1According to Forbes Magazine the richest man in the commonwealth of Kentucky is B. Wayne Hughes of Lexington. He is purported to be worth 2.5 billion dollars. Do you know how Hughes made his money? He built a fortune storing other people’s excess stuff. Wayne Hughes founded Public Storage in 1972 and turned it into the largest self-storage chain in the world, with 2,200 locations in the U.S. and Europe.

Why do we hoard things? Why do we pay good money to rent expensive storage space to keep things that we probably will never use and maybe never even look at it again? The two primary reasons are: (1) Nostalgia –

we can’t bring ourselves to get rid of items that remind us of cherished memories. We keep all our children’s school papers and Halloween costumes in musty boxes. (2) Greed – we somehow think that the more of this world’s goods we accumulate the more important we are and the more secure we’ll feel. So we store it up instead of giving it away or tossing it in the dumpster.

Have you got stuff in storage that you haven’t touched for years? Maybe you haven’t rented out storage space but it’s cluttering up your basement or limiting the primary purpose of your garage. Maybe you have expensive jewelry stuffed in a dresser drawer or valuable coins stuffed into a safe or trinkets jammed into your attic. And, truth is, you will never use any of it.

May I give you a practical and spiritually rewarding suggestion? Sell it and give the money away to someplace where it can do some good. A missionary can use it. A single mother at church needs it. The homeless shelter can benefit from it. Maybe your own children can be blessed by it. Or take it to Goodwill so someone can be helped by it.

Jesus specifically said, “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”

From that perspective the richest man in Kentucky could be Wayne B. Smith of Lexington. Wayne was the dynamic and popular minister of the Southland Christian Church for over 40 years. He is well-known for his humor but is also a very generous and compassionate man. Several evenings each week he would stop at the local Kentucky Fried Chicken restaurant just before closing time, pick up the extra chicken that they were going to throw away and deliver it to needy families before he went home.

Wayne personally gave thousands of dollars to needy people and college students. He channeled money to young preachers who were struggling. Several times after I spoke at a rally in the Lexington area, Wayne would hand me cash as a supplement to the honorarium and whisper, “You deserve a lot more than they’re giving you.”

Years later when our church was in a major fund-raising drive, Wayne sent a note of congratulations to me that read, “This is the biggest financial goal of any church in history. I want to be a part of something so exciting.” Included in the envelope was a check to Southeast Church for $1000. I was incredulous because I knew Wayne’s church was in a building program at the same time.

Wayne’s wife Marge, who handled the finances at home, limited the allowance she gave him every week because she knew that if he had much cash in his pocket he’d give it all away to anyone who claimed to have a need. Wayne explained, “The Lord commanded us not to store it up on earth and I’m scared He’s going to come back and catch me with some!”

Jesus said, “…use worldly wealth to gain friends for yourselves so that when it is gone, you will be welcomed into eternal dwellings” (Luke 16:9).

If you measure wealth by friends, Wayne Smith is probably the richest man in Kentucky, plus he’s stored up a lot of treasure in heaven. That’s the most secure place in the universe. And the Lord hasn’t charged him a dime for the rental space.


Bob Russell is retired Senior Minister of Southeast Christian Church, Louisville, KY.              



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Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God.

2 corinthians 1:3-4