I have a small booklet called the “Confidential Financial Discovery” that clients complete in order for me to advise them about their finances. There’s one question that looks like this:
What do you think about money, in general?______________________________
Many reply, “It’s the root of all evil.” This comes from 1 Timothy 6:10 of the Bible which actually says, “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.” KJV
The trouble with this particular “money story” is that – if you think money is evil – how in the world will you manage it? You’re likely to avoid it, and that could get you in all kinds of trouble.
My faith has always been a very big part of my life. Please allow me to share a story that shaped my entire career.
Twenty-two years ago, when I was new to the financial services profession, I was eagerly standing behind a table in a hallway, handing out brochures and cards, and asking if people would like to schedule an appointment to learn about saving for retirement.
A kindly man of slight build floated by and simply said, “Give to Caeser what is Caeser’s, give to God what is God’s,” (referencing the Gospel of Mark 12:13-17).
And he continued to float on by.
I was wrecked.
What the heck was I doing with my life telling people how to take care of themselves with money when I – a person of faith – believed that God would take care of them?
How shallow to be focused on money, I thought.
I feared I had made a big, big mistake and somehow sold my soul.
My dear friend Ruthann listened to my concerns and told me, “Amy, everyone needs to learn how to be good stewards of their money,” and with that I had my mission: To teach people how to be good stewards of their money (check the upper right corner of this blog. See? Stewardship). No matter how much or how little, they could have peace and be happy and content.
But make no mistake, money is definitely needed in life and it would be foolish to suppose otherwise.
It’s a kind of spiritual snobbery
that makes people think they can be happy without money.
– Albert Camus
The “I HATE Budgeting (But I Like Having Money)” support group met in April to discuss faith and finances. Here is what was shared:
Q. What part of your faith informs your finances?
A. Tithing (giving a tenth of income to church/charity)
A. Trusting God to provide, especially when things look bleakest.
Q. How have you gone from conflicted about money to being guided by your faith in financial matters?
A. “Realizing that it’s the love of money that is the root of all evil. Money is not evil in itself.”
A. “I avoided money because I feared loving it, but then I was always struggling.”
A. “The more you have the more you have to give.”
A. “I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.” John 10:10
A. “It’s important to build humility, to know when you need help. Faith reminds us that it’s not all about us.”
A. “It’s important to use time, energy and resources for the good of all.”
Q. What are you abundant in?
A. Friends, health, work
A. “Develop your own feelings of self-worth, knowing your talents, limits, skills, and values so that money isn’t a temptation in the form of a job, a relationship, shopping, theft, overuse of credit, etc.”
Studying world religions is a hobby of mine and it’s curious to me (and is one of the reasons I wrote my book, Living Inspired and Financially Empowered: Aligning Our Spiritual and Material Lives) that all major faith systems include how to honorably manage your money. The wisdom of prudence as well as appropriate risk-taking and the virtues of respect, honor, charity, and even the importance of celebration are represented in our sacred texts.
“No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.” Matthew 6:24
From the website BuddhaSasana http://www.budsas.org/ebud/ebdha049.htm:
“…Buddha was very much alive to the fact that economic stability is essential for man’s welfare and happiness.
In the Anguttaranikaya (A.II. (69-70) the Buddha mentions that there are four kinds of happiness derived from wealth. They are:
1) Atthisukha – The happiness of ownership.
2) Anavajjasukha – The happiness derived from wealth which is earned by means of right livelihood, i.e. not dealing in the sale of harmful weapons, not dealing in the slaughter of animals and sale of flesh, not dealing in the sale of liquor, not dealing in the sale of human beings (e.g. slavery and prostitution) and not dealing in the sale of poisons.
3) Ananasukha – the happiness derived from not being in debt.
4) Bhogasukha – the happiness of sharing one’s wealth. This kind of happiness is an extremely important concept in Buddhism.”
Hindu dharma (duty) encourages Hindus to work hard and earn money. In this way they can support themselves and their family. This is in keeping with one of the four purushartas (aims or goals) of life, artha. Artha is about gaining wealth by honest and lawful means.”
And also from the BBC http://www.bbc.co.uk/schools/gcsebitesize/rs/poverty/islamrev2.shtml:
(From the Holy Qur’an) “’The generous man is near God, near Paradise, near men and far from Hell, and the ignorant man who is generous is dearer to God than a worshipper who is miserly. ‘Hadith
‘And do not eat up your property among yourselves for vanities, nor use it as bait for the judges, with intent that ye may eat up wrongfully and knowingly a little of (other) peoples’ property. ‘ Surah 2:188”
We humans created money in order to facilitate trade when the objects available to trade had an unequal value. We assign value to things and occasionally increase that value (cost) via another human creation called inflation.
We know that money/wealth is not only transitory but an illusion, not to mention a (poor) substitute for happiness and acceptance. But we, as a society, agree to perpetuate this illusion, sometimes to our detriment.
For me, letting my faith guide my finances means I’m making my decisions from a place of love, trust, respect, and abundance rather than from a place of fear, greed, selfishness or scarcity. If you would like to learn how to integrate these two aspects of your life – faith and finances – I invite you contact me for an appointment.
Peace be with you,