12 responses to The Amish & The Pitfalls Of Making Money
  • *
    Damon Hickey
    Comment on An Amish wealth gap? (June 25th, 2015 at 07:49)

    An Amish wealth gap?

    According to one Old Order bishop, a big challenge to the Amish way of life is the development of an Amish moneyed class: Amish entrepreneurs who have made it big, especially in the furniture industry. As long as the Amish were mostly family farmers, there was little difference in wealth or influence, and bishops were the acknowledged community leaders. Now, with the growth of Amish industry, a big wealth gap has developed. At least some of the “Amish 1%” resist having their lives and choices regulated by bishops, and may even have more influence in their communities than bishops do. That’s a “Pitfall of Making Money” I’d like to see addressed more fully in these blogs.

    • *
      Comment on The Amish & The Pitfalls Of Making Money (June 25th, 2015 at 10:07)

      I know one Amish entrepreneur who likely owns the largest business of them all (within the Amish), literally hundreds of employees, both Amish and non-Amish (when 20-30 employees is considered “large” for the Amish). A real outlier. A neighbor company he works with has dozens of employees, and he dwarfs that one. Of course by his home and appearance, he doesn’t stand out in any way from his fellow church members.

      No doubt he wields a lot of influence in his community, but in the time I’ve spent with him I hear a lot from him about doing things which involve the community–not only his own local community, but cooperating in different ways with others in his industry. This seems important to him–it’s possible some of this emphasis comes from awareness of his more visible status as such an outlier.

      But I think it also comes down to the attitude a person has, and where the heart is. It takes some humility to submit to the community when you have created a multi-million dollar business by your own hard work and innovation and when literally hundreds of others depend on you for employment. I can understand why some Amish struggle with that and you sometimes get conflict, especially the ones who’ve seen success. They are human after all.

      Damon you are likely aware of this already, but I found last year’s JAPAS article on wealth distribution in Holmes County to be a good read on this general subject:



      • *
        Damon Hickey
        Comment on Re: An Amish wealth gap? (June 25th, 2015 at 10:17)

        Re: An Amish wealth gap?

        Many thanks, Erik. I wasn’t aware of that article.

  • *
    Jim Cates
    Comment on Wealth Gap? (June 25th, 2015 at 08:28)

    Wealth Gap?

    Damon, not only the “Amish 1%” (which I’ll leave to Erik and others to discuss more fully), but in the Elkhart-LaGrange settlement, money generated by factory work is a concern. Particularly for adolescent and young adult males who live at home and have comparatively few living expenses, the hourly wage allows them luxuries they can have trouble relinquishing in the face of purchasing real estate and their own families that demand a much larger share of their paycheck.

  • *
    Debbie H
    Comment on The Amish & The Pitfalls Of Making Money (June 25th, 2015 at 08:51)

    Very eye opening. I never thought about this happening in an Amish Community. Just proves that human sin effects us all, even the most devout.

  • *
    Donna J
    Comment on The Amish & The Pitfalls Of Making Money (June 25th, 2015 at 10:57)

    I often wondered how that affected their community and the way of life they live. It is one thing to be making a living comfortably and getting by with enough to feed and take care of your family, but what if you really start to make a profit and have more than your family needs? It seems like they contribute to the needs of all by helping with medical expenses and when a crisis arises with their community members they also pitch in. I would hate to see their simple way of life and their beliefs and morals be influenced by money. They are such a good, simple and honest society and people. That is why I admire them so!!!

    • *
      Comment on The Amish & The Pitfalls Of Making Money (June 25th, 2015 at 11:09)

      I think you bring up a good point Donna, in that wealth cuts both ways–it can create “inequality” (which imo it is debatable how bad at thing that actually is) and engender pride, but communities and families have real needs which have to be met, and money can be used for good ends like in the case of medical expense you mention.

      Do church leaders address this newish challenge sufficiently in both what they preach and more importantly in their own example (b/c ministers may also be successful business people)? It’s ultimately a personal thing whether one remains mindful of one’s values, but like with other things the community influence can help.

  • *
    Amish Girl-Rebecca
    Comment on The Amish & The Pitfalls Of Making Money (June 25th, 2015 at 11:55)

    Looking at homes from the outside often gives you only a small idea of how well off someone is. There is also the problem of living above your means and keeping up with the Joneses, so I guess you can see we’re very human. There is the up side of helping each other. I know of wealthy business men who use there wealth wisely. One man, who is now deceased, left a great amount to benefit our parochial schools. I’ve heard of men paying off a widow’s mortgage and also paying huge hospital bills. But, yes, there is a great concern among our people about living a rich life and wasting what we have been given.

  • *
    Comment on The Amish & The Pitfalls Of Making Money (June 25th, 2015 at 14:29)

    Those that make a lot of money are wonderful for the community at large, if of course they share the wealth. After all, it is not money that is the root of all evil. It is the LOVE of money that is the root of all evil.

    God doesn’t forbid wealth, and you can see many Bible examples of those He blessed with wealth.

    • *
      Amish Girl-Rebecca
      Comment on The Amish & The Pitfalls Of Making Money (June 25th, 2015 at 14:45)

      Amy, I totally agree with you. In church we have often been reminded to take an example from Abraham and the widow with her mite, not the rich man in the parable of him and Lazarus or the rich young ruler. I guess it’s not so much how much we have as what we do with it. We need to remember who blessed us with our riches.

  • *
    Alice Mary
    Comment on The Amish & The Pitfalls Of Making Money (June 25th, 2015 at 18:43)

    I know the Amish help others (like aiding others, Amish or Englisch, when a natural disaster strikes). I also realize they are expected to contribute to a kind of community fund to help out others in their own church district.

    How much (percentage of income or general wealth?) is an average Amish family expected to give? Are families with several older, working children (unmarried) expected to give more than, say, a family with several children under age 10? Is it biblical tithing? I would think people would like to be able to budget. I’m not being flip, but what is the Amish “fiscal year”? Is there a certain time of year that their contribution to the “general fund” is expected to be made?

    Money is an “issue” for us all.

    Alice Mary

  • *
    Amish Girl-Rebecca
    Comment on The Amish & The Pitfalls Of Making Money (June 27th, 2015 at 09:41)

    Usually our contribution depends on the amount of our day’s wages for Church Fund (medical aid). Then for Fire and Storm Aid we pay like a half dollar or a dollar a thousand according to our evaluation, which lists the approximate total of all we own. It depends on the need. we also do free-will offering at different times of the year.

Leave a reply to The Amish & The Pitfalls Of Making Money


Resource List
Reliable information from one of the largest Amish sites on the web.

Join over 15,000 email subscribers to get:
Amish Community Info | Book Giveaways | Amish Writers & non-Amish Experts | More

Get email updates

100% Free | No Spam | Unsubscribe Anytime