Money and Values: Do your investments reflect your values or someone else’s?
This week we will delve into a subject near and dear to my heart. You are considered blessed if you love your job, I do and I am, but what do you consider a job that allows individuals to get closer to God in a way they never thought possible? In a word…humbling. I thank God every day for the gifts and knowledge He has given me which allow me to do value – based investing. Value-based investing is where I will focus this month. As Christians we do our best to be the model for society and our family that God wants us to be. We are careful of those we associate with, books we read, movies and television programs we watch. Likewise we should invest in a way pleasing to God. Is not everything we receive a gift from Him?
Aligning your money with your values may be a new concept in America, however, it is not a new concept with Christ, who said, “Where your heart is, there your treasure will be too” (Matthew 6:21:Luke 12:34) Imagine you are walking with Jesus and his disciples along the shores of Galilee. They are discussing their future travels and expenses. Jesus turns to his treasurer, he actually had one, and asks “How are we doing?” He responds “Master, I have great news! We made 25% on our last investment.” Jesus stops and turns to him and asks “Twenty-five percent? That is good. But tell me, where did you find an investment opportunity like that?” His treasurer responds, “I invested in a new brothel in Jerusalem and business is booming!”
Would Jesus give the treasurer a hug or severely rebuke him and tell him to pull the money out immediately? I think the answer is obvious.
You may think this does not apply to you. You would not knowingly invest in a brothel. But ask yourself this, would Christ be happy with us investing in companies profiting from pornography, gambling, alcohol, or tobacco? Would Christ be happy with you making contributions to firms supporting abortion or same sex lifestyles? I think you know the answer to this question as well. Not only is this possible but, unfortunately, it is likely you are investing or contributing to these areas! Do you have a mutual fund, IRA, 401k, or college fund? Although most Christians would not knowingly make contributions to Planned Parenthood or the Human Rights Campaign, indirectly they are. There is a good chance the companies inside your mutual funds, IRAs, variable annuities, 401Ks etc… are making these contributions without your consent or knowledge. This makes you a de facto contributor and profiteer in these areas. This is a tremendous compromise of stewardship and values. Most investors have no idea this is happening.
You may be asking, “What are my alternatives? This information bothers me and I want to do something about it. What do you recommend I do?”
The first step is to evaluate the condition of your portfolio. If you have an investment portfolio of any kind you must have it screened. Every piece. Include your IRA, 401K, mutual funds, and variable annuity. Many advisors have access to information that will tell you exactly how much of your IRA violates your Christian values. Once you know what you are dealing with develop a financial plan based on Biblical principals that reflects your values. For a clearer understanding of values based investing, I will close with a passage from the book Money for Life by Stephen Bolt, founder of Faith Financial Planners, Inc. In this passage Bolt refers to the concept he calls Stewardship 1-2-3.
Stewardship 1 refers to the idea that everyone should have a financial plan to provide for life’s challenges, care for the family, and be prepared for the future. That concept is both practical and scriptural. The apostle Paul wrote in his first letter to Timothy, “But those who won’t care for their own relatives, especially those living in the same household, have denied what we believe. Such people are worse than unbelievers” (1 Timothy 5:8 NLT).
Stewardship 2 refers to the admonition to invest your money where your values are. To the extent that your beliefs and values go one direction but your money goes the other, you do not have the joy of living your life in alignment. Instead, you are the “double-minded man” of the Bible (James 1:8), who can’t make progress in life because he is constantly compromising himself. Investing your money in mutual funds, annuities, insurance, and so forth that promote your values allows you a peace of mind associated with both financial security as well as moral return on your invested assets.
Stewardship 3 refers to the concept of leveraging your money for the benefit of others. If there is anything more fundamental to Christian stewardship than using one’s own resources for the benefit of others, I don’t know what it would be. There are many opportunities to use money cleverly so that others benefit.
In next month’s article we will delve deeper into the idea of giving and I will share some non-traditional ways to contribute to charity and the church. If you would like a copy of Stephen’s latest book, please call our offices. We would be happy to send you a complimentary copy.
Faith Financial Planners, Inc. offers a free consultation. They are located at 13313 SW Freeway, Suite 263, Sugar Land, TX 77478. Telephone them locally at 281-201-1818 or toll free at 1-800-240-0020. The web address is www.faithtexas.com. Terry Morgan, Jr is a Registered Principal offering securities and investment advise through Capital Financial Services Inc. Broker Dealer/Investment Advisor Member NASD/MSRB/SIPC