At the age of 20, Essington property investor Samuel Leeds was kicked out of his church after being told he could serve God or money, but not both.
He had bought his first house at below market value shortly before his 18th birthday.
After refinancing the property up to its true value on the same day, he paid off the bridging loan and pocketed a monthly profit of
£950 in rent. It was the start of a multi-million pound business.
By the time Samuel was 19, he was getting more income from renting out a string of other properties than the average person’s salary.
This did not go down well at his place of worship where his burgeoning bank account was considered to be incompatible with his
faith. He set out on a voyage of self-discovery to examine his conscience, concluding that wealth and religion can work in tandem.
Now aged 27, the Christian entrepreneur has recently gone into partnership with his older brother, Russell, merging their business
interests into the newly named Leeds Group.
Samuel is chairman while Russell, 29, also a committed Christian, is CEO.
The pair are the new lords of the manor at one of Britain’s oldest country estates having recently bought Ribbesford House,
a dilapidated 16th century mansion near Bewdley, once used by Charles de Gaulle to prepare Free French troops for the D-Day
Their company ethos is underpinned by a strong Christian faith. So Samuel was naturally upset when he was ostracised by his church for being ‘too interested’ in money. “I got called a maverick and over-zealous. They said rich people are greedy. You’ve got enough houses now.
“I started to have a slight complex about being a wealthy, successful entrepreneur who is also a Christian. I really grappled with this.”
Putting the brakes on his entrepreneurship, he studied theology at Birmingham Bible Institute for the next three years to get to grips with the ethics. He put his conclusions in a book, Do the Possible, Watch God Do the Impossible, which has sold thousands of copies worldwide.
“I stopped subconsciously sabotaging my success because of stupid spirituality. I realised that money is not good or bad. Money is just a tool. I realised you can’t serve God and money, but you can serve God through money. We live well, but we are also
passionate about putting a lot of money into good causes.”
History is full of examples, he says, of generous entrepreneurs setting up hospitals, orphanages and schools.
“As a Christian property investor I also say that everything on this earth is leasehold.
We don’t own anything because we arrive with nothing and leave with nothing. So we are just stewards anyway. Not only did that
release me from the guilt of earning money,but it has also helped a lot of other people.”
At the core of the Leeds Group is Property Investors UK, a national training business teaching around 400 people a month how to
become financially free through property. The brothers also run a construction company, a lettings agency and another firm sourcing
properties for investors. The business headquarters is based at Hilton Hall, a Grade I listed 18th century mansion in Essington.
Turnover is around £250,000 a month with a net profit of 35 per cent. Ten per cent of the profits, including the brothers’ wages,
go to the Church and helping impoverished villagers in Africa.
The brothers’ story is even more remarkable given their ages and the fact they left school at 16, but they have other surprises
up their sleeves. Before going into business together, both were professional magicians.
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