Up until recently, there was a page and tab on my site that said “Start Here”. It was basically an introduction to the site that somehow ended up being largely a rant about various structural problems and limitations in the financial industry. It contained my honest opinions at the time I wrote it. However, my perspective is different today (1/10/2015).
When I first started the site, I thought one of the best ways I could help readers was to encourage them to avoid the hefty fees associated with actively managed mutual funds, financial advisors, etc. However, that was a view based on Chris McKinney’s best, most rational thinking, and which was developed while working in the financial industry. There is plenty of truth in those original comments. However, those comments are based on man’s thinking. They were completely devoid of faith. What do I mean by that?
First of all, to think that was one of the best ways to help readers was really selling short God’s vision and purpose and plan for creating a Christian investing website through one of his children. God is able to do immeasurably more than all I can ask or imagine. He can do so much more than simply help people avoid fees.
Second, God never told me to police the financial industry. There are good and bad actors in the industry, and it’s not right to paint them all with the same brush.
Finally, faith is not rational. Is it rational to believe that there’s an invisible being in the sky, who listens to the thoughts that I direct at him, and then answers me through a book written thousands of years ago, or through circumstances, other people, and a voice that he has put inside of me via his own spirit? No! None of that is based on rational thought. Those beliefs require faith, not logical reasoning! In fact, those beliefs require a childlike faith:
At that time Jesus prayed this prayer: “O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, thank you for hiding these things from those who think themselves wise and clever, and for revealing them to the childlike. Yes, Father, it pleased you to do it this way!” – Matthew 11:25-26, NLT
God Doesn’t Operate According To Human Wisdom
“The message of the cross is foolish to those who are headed for destruction! But we who are being saved know it is the very power of God. As the Scriptures say,
‘I will destroy the wisdom of the wise and discard the intelligence of the intelligent.’
So where does this leave the philosophers, the scholars, and the world’s brilliant debaters? God has made the wisdom of this world look foolish. Since God in his wisdom saw to it that the world would never know him through human wisdom, he has used our foolish preaching to save those who believe. It is foolish to the Jews, who ask for signs from heaven. And it is foolish to the Greeks, who seek human wisdom. So when we preach that Christ was crucified, the Jews are offended and the Gentiles say it’s all nonsense.
But to those called by God to salvation, both Jews and Gentiles,Christ is the power of God and the wisdom of God. This foolish plan of God is wiser than the wisest of human plans, and God’s weakness is stronger than the greatest of human strength.
Remember, dear brothers and sisters, that few of you were wise in the world’s eyes or powerful or wealthy when God called you. Instead, God chose things the world considers foolish in order to shame those who think they are wise. And he chose things that are powerless to shame those who are powerful. God chose things despised by the world, things counted as nothing at all, and used them to bring to nothing what the world considers important. As a result, no one can ever boast in the presence of God.” – 1 Corinthians 1:18-29, NLT
My argument was basically that increasing one’s expected return through the avoidance of fees is the first, most rational, and most effective steps readers can take. I think it’s great to be aware of the empirical data. I think it’s very wise to be diligent in using our minds. I think investors, Christian or otherwise, should seek to be as informed as possible. However, more important than any of that, is that we get on our knees in prayer, seeking the guidance of the one who created the universe. He owns it! He owns every bit of it! He can put into your hands exactly what resources he chooses, however he chooses to do it. And that’s the main point of all of this.
God Doesn’t Lead All Of His People Down The Exact Same Path
He obviously chooses to lead some of his people to invest in individual stocks, and some of his people to invest via financial advisors and actively managed mutual funds. Are the odds against them when choosing that latter category? Yes! Does God care about the odds? No! He isn't even bound by the laws of physics! He is the genius who wrote the laws of physics and math, and they belong to him! The laws of physics actually obey him! Yes, God is absolutely amazing! But let me try to stay on topic. I’m not saying that we should not generally seek to be rational investors. What I’m saying is that prayer and bible study, and the resulting guidance and direction we will get from the one who actually knows the future, is way more important than what we can figure out from simply using our own feeble little brains!
If I believed that God was leading me to hire a financial advisor or invest in actively managed mutual funds, I would still go about choosing them with the best effort I could possibly put forth. God certainly uses the talents, gifts, and abilities he has put inside of us! He has designed each of us with a specific purpose in mind!
So, certainly we use our talents and gifts, including our intelligence and discernment, to the absolute best of our ability. But we also follow where God leads. And sometimes that won’t entirely make sense to us. That’s just the way it is. God wants us to trust him and sometimes, maybe even much of the time, he specifically requires that we “lean not on our own understanding”. So, each individual believer has to spend time on their face and their knees to find out where God is leading them in regard to their investments. Maybe he is leading you to spend more time on this site, and maybe he isn’t. If we try to go down a path that God is telling us to avoid, it will not work for us - even if that same path does work for another believer.
A Quick Word To Financial Professionals
Last, I just have a quick word to the financial advisors and mutual fund managers of the world. If you are a believer… if you have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ… if you walk with him daily and follow where his spirit leads, God has not called you to be average! Get on your knees in prayer and find out exactly what he has called you to do! But be ready to step out in faith! Be ready to start your own firm! Be ready to run your own separate account models! Be ready to start a completely new type of investment firm that no one has even thought of yet! But if you’ve been settling for mediocre results, stop it! You don’t have to do that anymore! The God you serve knows the future! There is nothing for you to fear!
Your path will almost certainly not be easy. If it’s anything like mine, it will be painful at times. You may face resistance from others. You may face disapproval, ridicule, and embarrassment. The road may seem fraught with uncertainty, risk, danger, and trouble. But here’s what you should remember about the God you serve:
“The Lord’s promises are pure, like silver refined in a furnace, purified seven times over.” – Psalm 12:6, NLT
Speaking of refinement - and I say this all the time to readers - you may want to start out asking God to purify and refine your own motives. Recall that we are instructed to do nothing out of selfish ambition. But, we are certainly called to use our gifts, talents, time, and energy to serve others and to bring glory to the one who created us! Get started today!