We are coming to the end of another year and with it the busyness that comes with Christmas parties, shopping for gifts, and the like. It seems crazy that Christmas is already this week! “The years are short but the days are long” as they say. Thankfully for us, most people are not too interested in discussing their finances around the holidays so our work load typically levels off at the end of the year.
In the past, my last blog post of the year has deviated from the usual format. It gives me the opportunity to express something that is on my mind apart from my work as a financial advisor. As I write this today, I am thinking about a night last week around the dinner table with my family. Usually, once dinner is done, we read a story from our daughter’s Bible story book. However, it had been a particularly long day and so I opted to read something with a little more direct encouragement for all of us. I read a passage that has been a favorite of ours for some time and was actually our wedding text, Isaiah 12. Specifically, we focused on verse 2:
“Behold, God is my salvation; I will trust, and not be afraid: for the Lord Jehovah is my strength and my song; he also is become my salvation.”
As you can about imagine, conveying the message of this text to a 2 ½ year old is…. challenging. But I believe that it is a worthy endeavor! Now, I understand that this will not resonate with everyone who is reading this. However, it is of great comfort to my family and I that we can put our trust in the Lord to be our strength and for our salvation. Specifically on a day when we are not feeling particularly strong ourselves.
Reading that passage again with my family has made me think about all of the other things that we tend to put our trust in. Our jobs, our social status, other people, and, probably most often, our finances. We have a tendency to link our mental health and personal happiness to the balance of our bank or investment accounts. We feel safe and secure when we have a “healthy” amount of money in our accounts. I think that it would suffice to say that oftentimes if we were to write the verse above it would look more like this:
“for the almighty dollar is my strength and my happiness.”
The irony of a financial advisor warning about the pitfalls of putting our trust in money is not lost on me. In fact, it occurs to me that I often unwittingly play into that misplacement of trust. In my role as an advisor, I encourage my clients to save and invest wisely with an eye towards a secure retirement for years to come. This is a good reminder for me to make sure that the goal of planning is not money for money’s sake but rather as a tool and a means to accomplish that which is important to my clients. Again, I am reminded of a passage that is often misquoted, I Timothy 6:10:
“For the love of money is the root of all evil:which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.”
This passage is often misquoted as, “money is the root of all evil”. However, the verse clearly says that the love of money is the root of all evil. Seeing as we often trust in those things which we love, it would not be a stretch to rephrase the verse to say, “for placing our trust in money is the root of all evil”. The key here is that money in and of itself is not evil but rather the love of, and trust in, money is what is at issue.
All of this to say, what is the antidote to looking to our finances for comfort this Christmas season? Well, I have already made it clear where my family’s trust lies and that trust results in (or at least should) a contentment for the life that we have. We don’t have the biggest home or the nicest cars. We certainly don’t have the most money or the largest investment accounts (lest you think that financial advisors are inherently wealthy😊). What we do have is a loving marriage, beautiful children, friends and family who love and care about us, and a faith in our Savior and the life to come. In short, we have enough. More than enough, in fact (despite my best efforts to the contrary)! So, this Christmas season, I encourage you all to take a look around and take stock of what you have. Not the money and things but the people and relationships in your life. I am confident that you also will be able to conclude that you have enough! In the spirit of Christmas, I will leave you with this:
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” – John 3:16
My last post of the year would not be complete without a song of the week! Enjoy and I will see you in the New Year!