Over the past 28 years, I have had the privilege of working with 300 to 400 business people. In my experience, generally when they invest in something that they understand, and within biblical principles, they earn a profit. However, when they invest in something that they don’t understand, frequently they lose money.
Over the past 28 years, I have met many investment advisers who have instructed their clients to use debt in order to increase their investment returns. When the market goes up, additional returns can be obtained through the use of debt. However, when the market goes down, the results can be disastrous. I remember one woman who borrowed against her home and invested in mutual funds only to discover four years later that the funds had decreased in value by 50 percent. Being upset with what occurred, she immediately sold her investments and paid off as much of the loan as she could. Several years later, she is still servicing the remaining debt.
As explained in my previous Financial Moment, God’s Word recommends the diversification of one’s portfolio into different types of investments that will likely react differently to any particular market condition.
By the way, if you have absolutely no peace in investing in equities because of the related risks, then perhaps God is directing you to invest solely in very safe categories, such as government of Canada bonds, GICs, etc. The return on “a very safe portfolio” will be very modest, and therefore you will likely have to save considerably more money to meet future needs, compared to an investor who assumes a reasonable amount of risk within biblical guidelines.
In my experience, I've seen too many cases where an individual has invested the majority of retirement funds in one company or in one sector. For “a season” these investments may do well, but inevitably every company and sector falls on bad times. This results in significant losses because the portfolio was not diversified in a manner that was consistent with God’s Word.
A biblically based investment strategy should meet the following two criteria:
1. be consistent with God’s principles
2. reflect God’s specific will for your life
To develop and implement an investment plan that is consistent with God’s principles, it is essential that you understand God’s investment principles. God’s Word, the Bible, provides us with a wealth of knowledge on investing. Authors such as Austin Pryor and Ron Blue have written entire books on what God has to say about investing. I have written 14 financial moments on this topic. If you would like a copy then send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org
Prayer and dependence upon God are required in order to develop a personalized and a biblically based investment strategy. It is well known that the past performance of an investment provides no guarantee for its future performance. The best investment today depends on future events, and since no one can consistently predict the direction of any market, it is critical to acknowledge our dependence upon God for his wisdom and his direction in respect of investing.
The following steps should enable you to learn and implement God's investment principles.
1. Pray and depend on God for his wisdom (James 1:5) and his direction (Psalm 32:8) when investing, because no human can consistently predict the direction of the markets (James 4:13–15). Listen for God’s “gentle whisper” (1 Kings 19:12), because only God knows the future and God is in control (1 Chronicles 29:11, 12).
2. Develop and implement a biblically based investment strategy that reflects God’s will for your life (Jeremiah 29:11). Understanding God’s financial principles will enable you to avoid a lot of bad investments.