Do Christians have an advantage in planning for hardship? Many of us would like to believe that we do. But have you ever thought about how current events relate to your personal finances? How would you prepare for issues that eventuate from things like war?
There are two types of preparation needed when it comes to our finances. How to personally prepare, and then how to take the practical steps needed. What sort of planning opportunities are there with potential hardship?
Alex Cook from Wealth With Purpose recently joined us on 20Twenty to share his tips on investing in an uncertain world. He says that Biblical principles apply as much to our finances as they do to every other aspect of our lives.
The West is Used to Prosperity
The Western world today is used to prosperity. But you only have to go back a few generations to find people who went through both World Wars and The Great Depression. The way they looked at the world was quite different.
‘We need to prepare our hearts,’ says Alex. ‘Western Christians are often not used to difficult seasons. One of the big challenges is fear of the future. But as Christians, we should be the ones that people look to who have great joy, irrespective of the circumstances that prevail around us.’
The Bible makes it very clear nobody knows the future. But from a financial perspective, there’s all sorts of things that we can do practically to prepare ourselves. The Bible tells us in Ecclesiastes to invest because we ‘do not know what disaster may come upon the land.’
‘We’d all agree that war is a disaster,’ Alex says. ‘We can only prepare for it through diversifying our assets. Spreading our investments is a really important principle. We need to diversify because we don’t know what the future holds.’
A Long Term Focus
Recently stock markets have started to get a bit nervous. When uncertainty comes upon the market, volatility increases. Often with war, markets will fall in the lead up. But when war actually breaks out and people have a grasp of the scale of it, markets often start to rise again.
‘From an investor’s point of view, the main thing is that you maintain a long-term focus,’ says Alex. ‘A lot of what we see in the news each day is what I would call noise. Those headlines are designed as clickbait and can get you to make impulsive decisions with your money.’
Alex believes we can prevent a lot of heartache and poor financial decision making when it comes to investing if we keep our long-term focus. We’ve already experienced a taste of what happens with supply chain issues, and rising fuel prices. There is also much talk at the moment of higher interest rates.
Don’t Let Fear Drive You
Making sure we have some cash reserves is one way Alex recommends planning for uncertainty. But he says the key is not to let fear drive your decision making. ‘This is an opportunity for us to get closer to God. He wants us to seek Him in all things, including our finances. We should be seeking God and asking for wisdom during a season like this.’
Alex says this is a season for growing in relationship with God, and improving our financial wisdom. Prosperity is not guaranteed. We’re going to have a lot more challenges in the next decade. But it is also an opportunity for the Gospel to flourish, and for people to use their wealth in ways to be generous and fund kingdom activities.
‘It’s not a time to despair. It’s an opportunity to grow in your faith and your financial wisdom.’