A Monthly Series
As a part of a continuing focus of stewardship this essay begins a monthly series exploring the intricacies of the financial services industry. I know, your eyes just glazed over. Hang in there, this is a topic that effects anyone, and everyone who invests money in the market. I spent ten years in the financial services industry, eight of them as a “wholesaler” (you will learn what that means in due course). While I have left the industry I am actively involved in the markets as an investor as well as a commentator through this blog. I also maintain an active life, health, property & casualty insurance license in Nebraska and Iowa. All that I will claim in this monthly series will be backed up by sources, as well as my personal participation. It is not a pretty picture. As we begin this journey into the dark, sub rosa corners of the financial industry it is good to remember some basics about what people of faith should consider regarding stewardship, and particularly money and investing.
When we think about stewardship, we are best to use a broad definition. How broad? Well, God owns everything. Therefore, we must be stewards (non-owners) of all that God has provided to us-which is, again, everything.
Money is only a part of stewardship, as it is only a part of our lives. Our time and talent are just as much a part of what God owns, and we are just as much stewards of this as the money in the bank. It is true that money is perhaps the most elaborated part of our resources, but we should not limit ourselves to thinking only about money when thinking about how best to respond to and show gratitude for God’s gifts to us.
Biblical Money Facts
- There are 2350 verses in the Bible concerning money.
- Over 15% of the verses in Matthew, Mark and Luke are about material goods.
- Almost half of the parables that Jesus taught concern possessions.
- Jesus talked more about money and its uses than heaven and hell combined.
- Money is evil: 1Timothy 6:10a said “For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil”. Anything that we think transcends God is a sin and to be considered evil. Note that Paul never said money was per se evil.
- Money is the key to happiness. Luke 12:15 Jesus says” Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of possessions.”. This is but one of many such admonitions against conflating money and happiness.
- Financial success is determined by how much money you make. Financial success and proper stewardship is determined by how you spend what you have.
- Most people do not have a money problem, we have a management problem.
- Lack of proper stewardship disciplines creates situations where our yearning capacity exceeds our earning capacity
- Wealth as defined by a follower of Christ is a person who is content with what they have.
Investing is but one of the building blocks of financial stewardship. The others being savings, being debt free, and giving. This is an area that I have great familiarity with, given my past and present work.
We must make provision for the future and do so in a prudent, conservative manner. We must at the same time avoid the trap of hoarding and strike a balance between hoarding and prudent accumulation. The Investing page of my web site lays out a plan that may very well assist you in attaining your long-term goals.
- Invest Low-Cost
- Keep It Simple
- Keep it Rules Based
- Keep it Emotionally Attainable
Following simple, understandable guidelines means you can increase your chances of financial success. God’s people, as it turns out, are pretty good money managers.
The Focus of This Series
Keeping all of the above in mind, this series is about the awful truth that the values of this world invade much of what we think, and do regarding the investing portion of our financial lives. Simply put, the game is rigged. This should shock no one. In an increasingly politicized world, with a powerful government interfering in most aspects of our lives, financial and non, it should be expected that a politically connected elite would arrange policy to their advantage.
Most people are innocent in this regard and simply shunted into a system that is designed to extract money from them with no real regard for whether they gain financially or not. While people can certainly act with greed and vanity, it is difficult to blame the ordinary market participant for being sucked into a system whose traps remain mostly hidden.
I say mostly hidden because they can be revealed if you know where to look. My, admittedly awful participation in this financial rip-off has allowed me to learn where the traps are laid. The least I can do (besides quitting the industry) is to alert people as to where the traps are laid as best I can. This then is the point and focus of this series; to alert people to how money actually moves in this country and how that knowledge can assist them in achieving their financial goals.
Matters of money are a financial means by which people treat one another, and that makes it of crucial concern to God. For too long I was opposite God in this game. All I can do know is to take the unrighteous knowledge that I gained from this participation (see Luke 16:1-14), and use it to make friends in the eternal places. It also serves as my penance for the things I was a part of. Every month on the 2nd. Monday I will post an additional part of this series in the hope that the reader will have greater insight into how to protect themselves from a rigged game.
Praise Be to God