Faith and Financial Planning
Article by R. Joseph Ritter, Jr. CFP® EA
We all know what financial planning and investment advisory can do – help your money work for you in making more money. With that in mind, traditional financial planning and investment advisory has little to offer people who live on fewer resources and who live on faith. The reason for this, and not to lay any fault or blame on their part, is that the services are driven by wealth. A person with fewer resources or who lives by faith does not have investable wealth.
So is there even a need for a person of faith to engage in financial planning? “I live by faith. God will provide, so there is no need for financial planning.”
Hans Egede was a Norwegian missionary to Greenland in the 1700s. At the close of the first summer, their resources were dwindling, and it seemed mainland Europe was not coming with provisions. Hans and his wife Gertrude believed God would provide, and then Hans made a list of their provisions. Hans considered that they could shoot game for meat, however, he found that their supply of gunpowder had been exhausted. He found that they had provisions for one month. As the days passed by and it seemed the cruel winter would seal their certain starvation, two ships arrived with fresh stores of provisions and the promise of future support from mainland Europe.
Reading stories such as this raises the question of whether financial planning has any role to play in faith. Notice, however, what Hans Egede did. He made a careful list and analysis of the provisions on hand and determined how long they could survive on what they had.
One of the crucial steps in believing with faith that the Lord will provide what we need is to first understand what it is we need and how far we can stretch those resources. The very best we can give the Lord with our faith is careful use of our resources. After that comes prayer and trust that God will provide in the moment our resources run dry.
Did Hans Egede and the missionaries in his post have a need immediately? No. Was there reason to panic? No, because they understood what they had and made plans to use it wisely until the Lord provided. If you do not know what you have, how far your resources will go, and what you need (what you will trust the Lord to provide), then you become vulnerable to making unwise financial decisions, wasting resources, and being caught off guard when your resources run out. This can spell disaster for your faith and call to ministry.
One of the greatest benefits professional financial guidance has to offer people of strong faith and Christian service is to come alongside and provide a financial plan which clearly sets forth the need, the available resources to meet the need, stretches the resources as far as possible, and develops a plan to trust the Lord for the difference.
Financial planning most certainly does not mean we must give up our faith or put God in a box, stifling His movement and work. Instead, proper financial planning can complement your call to ministry and your life of faith. Proper financial planning can provide opportunities for you to strengthen your faith and trust in the Lord for the resources you will need to complete the call He has given you.
Perhaps the most vivid need for sound financial planning is those who are just starting out in faith and Christian service. If the Lord has called you to serve and you must complete Bible college or other educational requirements, how are you going to pay for the education? If you are starting a church or new mission post, what resources will you need and how do you plan to fund your ministry? Faith most certainly begins at this stage, and we can help map out your financial needs and develop a plan rooted in Scriptural faith to maintain your focus on the primary task – ministry.
Another important stage in life is retirement. Many Christian service workers refuse to retire from their work. However, those who do retire or those who find that the doors have closed for further work are often left without enough resources to make ends meet. The common answer to this predicament is that, if the Lord provided what was needed during his or her working years, the Lord will not fail to continue providing even in retirement.
While this may very well be true, many retired ministers, missionaries and other Christian service workers find themselves retiring in isolation. Having a financial professional come alongside them in these years and develop a plan integrated with faith can be an invaluable source of encouragement and hope.
If nothing else, Zacchaeus Financial Counseling, Inc. can take a fresh look at a your financial situation. In so doing, it may be that there are resources or financial products available that have been overlooked, and we may be able to help you find encouragement, hope and a renewal of faith and your call to ministry.
Let us take a fresh look at your financial situation, listen to your story of faith and call to ministry, and show you how we may be able to help.