I used to call my former financial advisor every few weeks to ask him, “What am I worth today?” My advisor is a great guy, and he performed a superb job of growing my investment portfolio for 20 years, but he never appreciated the irony of my question.
A person’s worth, of course, should never be given a dollar value.
That said, for the first five decades of my life, I idolized money. Even as my “worth” grew beyond my own expectations, the boldface number atop my financial statement was never quite large enough. The carrot at the end of the string remained just out of reach—and I knew why.
Measuring a Successful Life
Growing up, my father was my primary influence. He valued physical fitness and financial security and passed along those values to me. That’s why I spent much of my adult life thinking that the key indicators of a successful life were a flat stomach and a fat bank account. As a result, I was never quite fit enough or rich enough.
But in recent years, after surrounding myself with friends who follow Jesus and immersing myself in scripture, I have learned that true security comes only from an eternal perspective. I have learned that freedom—including financial freedom—comes from knowing that I am a son of the King and being content with whatever he bestows.
Over the years, I’ve come to appreciate that God is the One True Owner who owns everything. All blessings flow from him. As believers, that means we are stewards of whatever God blesses us with, including financial resources.
Stewards, Not Owners
The Bible is full of financial advice. This passage particularly resonates with me:
But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that. Those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs. (1 Tim 6:6-10)
Since my money is God’s money, every financial decision I make—spending, investing, charitable giving, loaning, gifting—is a spiritual decision. As a steward (not an owner!) of the resources that God has entrusted to me, my role is to discern through prayer what pleases him.
As a result, my wife, Lisa, and I replaced our longtime financial advisors with an individual who invests our monetary blessings based on our values and spiritual principles. Now when I call my financial advisor, I chuckle knowingly when I ask him, “What am I worth today?”
I can hear the smile in his voice when he responds, “You are worth the same today as when God knit you together in your mother’s womb. You are worth so much that if you were the only person living on the earth, Jesus would still come from heaven to earth to get you back, to have a relationship with you. You are his treasure!”
When I ask my financial advisor to transfer money from my bank account to my investment account, I tell him, “Please harvest this money from the Lord’s provision and multiply it through him with spirit-inspired investment!”
Although a healthy financial return remains important, Lisa and I now prioritize what our investments will accomplish rather than focusing merely on the return. Our priority is to partner with God in putting the world back together again. In collaboration with our Christ-centered financial advisor, we invest in companies that add value to human beings and the creation. We avoid companies that extract value from human beings and the creation. Likewise, we make contributions to charities that either honor the creation or provide social service programs that are Christ-centered.
While this discernment process requires some extra effort by us and our advisor, it’s well worth it because we’re honoring the One True Owner.
As evangelist Andrew Murray wrote, “The world asks, ‘What does a person own?’ Jesus asks, ‘How does a person use it?’”
How will you value your worth today?