I wrote this story several months ago and it never made its way into The Faith-Based Investor, my latest project. I’d love to hear your thoughts on the story:
“The Faithful Manager” by Jay Peroni, CFP (c) 2009
A Modern Take on The Parable of the Talents
After his Sunday sermon at Calvary Christian Church, Dr. Thomas had a on his soul. He had felt this many times before as God led him to various callings. This was no different. He heard a faint voice, “It is time. Your work here is complete.” This seemingly came from nowhere yet he knew deep down that God was calling him away…again!
Dr. Thomas had done pretty well for himself. As a Pastor, teacher, and author for nearly thirty years, he was wealthy in many ways. He just had celebrated his forty-year wedding anniversary; he had four children, twelve grandchildren, two paid for homes, a clean bill of health, and nearly a million dollars in the bank. At age 65, he had been living a life of true financial freedom for years. He was able to donate all of his salary back to the church and live off of his investments. He even was donating book royalties to some of his deepest and dearest ministries. He always had a great ability to provide monetarily, but infrequently had the freedom to provide his time and expertise beyond his church’s walls.
Dr. Thomas and his wife Marjorie, for years, had longed to go on a long mission trip to a poverty stricken nation. They dreamed of living a life of simplicity with an ability to love, care for, and build up others. Because of their financial freedom and God’s timing, now it had become the time to leave the country and head on their mission to Africa.
Financial Freedom is Now!
The Thomas’s set aside enough money for living and helping in Africa, but needed someone to watch over their nest egg while they were away for the next decade. Because Dr. Thomas had invested his money in various businesses over the years, he never established an account with a financial professional before. He didn’t want to hand his money over to a stranger. He needed someone he could trust. He thought long and hard about who he knew that handled money. Dr. Thomas knew three people in his congregation who gave financial advice for a living.
First there was David Noble, an advisor who incorporated biblical principles in his practice. David was on the finance committee at the church, ran a non-profit debt management ministry program for hurting families, and owned a company called His Wealth Management. Over the years, several members of the congregation had praised David’s integrity, honesty, and wise approach. He helped quite a few members of the church with budgeting, investing, and gifting more back to God’s work.
Next, there was Max Taylor, a deacon at the church and a long-time friend of Dr. Thomas. He and Max golfed together twice a week, shared bible study together, and visited with each others’ families frequently. He trusted Max like a true brother. Max had been a Christian most of his adult life and ran a local three-generational financial planning office in town. Max and his brother Tom, along with their three sons and a grandson ran and operated Taylor Wealth Management, LLC.
Lastly, there was Harry Tucker was also a good friend of Dr. Thomas. He ran an insurance agency in town that specialized in conservative strategies for many local seniors. Tucker insurance handled estate planning, life insurance, long-term care, and fixed annuities.
As a pastor, the choice of who to entrust his life savings was difficult. Should he let one person handle it all? Or maybe split it up? Dr. Thomas and Marjorie went back and forth with who should handle their family’s finances. They finally made a decision to meet with all three financial advisors.
After meeting with each advisor and gaining suggestions, Dr & Mrs. Thomas decided to split their assets up as follows:
To David Noble, they entrusted $500,000.
To Max Taylor, they entrusted $200,000.
To Harry Tucker, they entrusted $100,000.
A Decade Away
For the next ten years Dr. Thomas and his wife wrote frequently to their friends in America, yet never had much opportunity to call or speak to their advisors. A decade went by and Dr. Thomas and his wife returned as planned. After getting back into America, Dr. Thomas and his wife needed to get their finances back in order. They arranged meetings with each of their three advisors.
First, they met with David. David had invested the Thomas portfolio in a portfolio of stocks and bonds. The portfolio was now worth over $1,000,000. It had more than doubled since the Thomas’s left. David explained, “Not only was I able to more than double the money you entrusted to me, I invested the money according to your faith, values, and beliefs. I made sure you did not own any investments that you would not be proud to own. I purposely avoided companies involved in social issues important to you like tobacco, alcohol, and gambling. I also avoided investing in companies that violated moral issues important to you like abortion, pornography, stem cell research, cloning, and companies promoting homosexuality.” The Thomas’s were very proud and honored by David’s job as a faithful manager!
Next, they met with Max. Max was very happy to report that he doubled their money using mutual funds that invested in stocks and bonds. “I turned your $200,000 into well over $400,000. I invested in things that would maximize your profits.” Now the Thomas’s were quite pleased with the returns Max had achieved for them. However upon further reflection, they found that through their mutual fund investments they owned tobacco companies, companies engaged in stem cell research, companies distributing pornography, and some of the world’s leading pro-abortion companies. The Thomas’s were saddened by their friend’s lack of awareness when it came to matching their investments with their values.
Lastly, they met with Harry Tucker. Harry was happy to report that he tucked
their investments into something safe and secure. Harry said, “I didn’t want your principal fluctuating while you were gone. The stock market goes up and down, you know. There’s way too much risk.” I have turned your $100,000 into $130,000 over the last 10 years. You didn’t lose a thing at any point during the past 10 years.” The Thomas’s were also saddened as Harry had invested their money so conservatively that it had not even kept up with inflation and taxes. Though their investments gained $30,000 in value on paper, when they accounted for taxes and inflation, they were disappointed to find out they lost money.
Now what if there was a fourth money manager?
What if there were a money manager who knew the Thomas’s values? On moral and social issues, he understood exactly where the Thomas’s stood. There was no doubt in the manager’s mind what would please or upset Dr. Thomas and his wife…yet he chose to look the other way. He knew that he had the ability to uphold the Thomas’s values yet he knowingly chose to not do anything about it. How would that make them feel? Betrayed? Or, maybe angry? At the very least the Thomas’s would question the heart of this manager. Did he care about my wishes or that of his own? I believe God is asking that very same question to you: Do you care about His will or do you choose what makes you happy instead. God indeed wants us to multiply His money, but He wants us to do it in a fashion that incorporates biblical principles.
This modern day version of the “Parable of the Talents” was written to help you view your finances in a new, exciting, and unique manner. Hopefully some of these questions will challenge your thinking the way it challenged me. The words I have written were inspired because it took much time for me to truly understand
the moral responsibility that comes with handling the affairs of our God. As an individual, you make investment choices every day. You choose how you invest (spend) your time; you choose how you invest (use) your talents, and certainly how you invest (save, spend, lend, or donate) your money. But is your money really yours? Who are you really managing your money for? If God were directly investing his money, would He care more about the returns or the source of the profits? This book will examine your heart and motivation with money. “Because where your treasure is your heart lies also.” Step by step we will examine how money choices can affect your ability to be a faithful manager with the time, talent, and treasure God has put you in charge of.
Think about this:
*Each day has 1,440 minutes: How do you use your time?
*You possess certain abilities and unique gifts that God has given to you: How do you use these gifts?
*God has entrusted you with ability to earn money: How do you spend, give, and invest the money he has provided you?
Without examining your priorities and who you are as a person, it is difficult to change course. Things may be going well for you, you may be one paycheck away from disaster, or you may be in the middle of a financial storm. Wherever you are in your financial life, there is hope that you can grow closer to God and manage money in a way that pleases Him.
Self analysis is often uncomfortable, but sometimes we need discomfort in order to grow. In The Faith-Based Investor, I help people like you examine their beliefs, values, and morals. I take a hard look at our culture and help you navigate a course that will allow you to achieve the gains that you seek with your family’s finances without sacrificing your faith in the process.