"No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.
In 2018, I was at a church retreat listening to hard truths and messages that were hard to swallow. In my quiet time, I saw Christopher Tan (from Providend) online and felt compelled to speak to him.
Being the pioneer fee-advisory practice in Singapore (while I'm commissioned based), Christopher Tan and I have many differences in how we approach business professionally - but I can honestly say there are few people in this field that I respect as much as him. I was so fortunate that someone as important as him gave me time out of his day to speak to me about the weight on my heart, and while those lessons may not have become ingrained in me immediately, I've always periodically reflected on our conversation across the last two years.
It's helped me reconcile some of the conflicts in my life about having such a high focus on money and its importance, versus the need to focus on heavenly things. His article is in the picture.
I've always found a lot of parallels between being a Christian and being a Financial Consultant. For example:
1) People do not like you.
As a general rule, Christians tend to be pretty killjoy. Even my Among Us group makes me guilty about how often I end up swearing in frustration.
There are too many reasons why many people do not like Financial Consultants, so I shall not state them.
2) Within the Christian community, there are a lot of people who only like to say outrageously good things without regards for hard truths, at risk of offending.
This is always true on Financial Forums, where every person who has something to contribute automatically feels entitled that their opinion is equal because moderators are usually afraid to offend.
Realistically, not all investment opinions, let alone advice - is equal.
Christian communities sometimes reflect this mindset by refusing to discuss harder parts like being a sinner, death and repentance - and may rather just discuss blessings and the love of Christ without the equal weight of context.
This is why I occasionally swing by Presbyterian churches to get a good dose of reality (in my experience, Presbyterians are a little more pessimistic and blunt, like myself), though my church is reasonably balanced.
3) For both Christian and Finance communities, there are people who are straight up wrong about a lot, but have a lot more charisma or money to get a larger following or influence.
Pretty self explanatory.
4) Sometimes there will be big happenings that hurt the tenets of your faith.
I had some clients back out at the last minute in the last two months after saying really nice things to me, like how much they trusted me and how grateful they were for what I was trying to do for them. How good they thought I was. And when I got burned, I couldn't really understand it and kept questioning whether it was something I did - because I went on faith that if I did everything correctly and they found me so good - why did they back out? As a Christian, perhaps this is even worse - when we see so many difficult things happen in this world - rape, murder, illness - and yet we have to believe that God loves us and loves his people.
5) Sometimes you will be unsure of whether you are right, especially from guilt.
This happens a lot, especially because people always try to make you feel guilty. Often there are haters who try to scream bloody murder about my commissions or fees.
For Christians, they take on even more difficult positions, such as the idea that pretty much anyone who doesn't repent and acknowledge Jesus Christ as Lord won't be saved in the afterlife. That's pretty extreme.
Naturally, rather than accept that there are Christians or Consultants in this world who will take on different jobs and beliefs, some people would rather be awful and go all out to hate these people. Perhaps some of them will even report you to MAS 120 times.
The choice to become a consultant and the beliefs that stem with it - for example, the idea that your hard work is worth the fees you're being paid - is certainly something that all Consultants have to overcome. READ ALSO: I Got Reported to MAS Over 120 Times! (by the same person) - Business Analysis, Personal Update
For Christians, its even worse.
While non-believers would argue that 'right' is certainly a subjective concept (and it is), you have to understand that Christians have literally given up their entire lives to a messianic figure who they have never seen.
It's a reasonably huge consequence if they've wasted all that time from being wrong, but most Christians (and myself) seem to think its worth that risk.
Three Ways to Balance Your Love of God, and Love of Money
The fact that there's a reasonable amount in common between a profession like Financial Consultancy and Christianity is a good start, because I've always found that when I depend too much on Money or my mind to provide solutions for my clients, that when things go haywire.
There's been many who've said Money is the root of all evil or have used their faith as an excuse for their lack of responsibility.
A lack of responsibility for education, for learning how to efficiently provide for themselves or their families. And it manifests as suffering in their lives, brought up from the sin of neglect rather than the sin of idolatry.
On the other hand, having spent so much of my life and time on the mastery of finance - I've certainly fallen prey to idolizing money. It seems like there's no limit to the kind of problems it can't solve.
It's often said that money can't buy love, but I've seen it happen. It's been said that money can't buy happiness, but I've had the privilege of being the bearer of that happiness.
How do you not love and appreciate money, while keeping God at the center of your life?
1) Look Ahead [Focus on Future Things]
Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Won’t you first sit down and estimate the cost to see if you have enough money to complete it?
One of the tenets of Financial Mastery is about delayed gratification. There are obvious repercussions for not doing so (Proverbs 21:5), and part of a Christian's walk with God is about prudent financial management.
Like how a student glorifies God by studying, each of us have responsibilities to fulfill that glorify God - including the capacity to take care of oneself and others.
For myself, my ability to spend and save wisely - and take care of myself financially helps ensure that I'm less tempted to avoid sins associating with spending.
2) Focus on the Important Things [Focus on Important Things]
Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails. Proverbs 19:21
Some of the problems that I've noticed amongst my clients - and even myself - is a huge detraction from the important things.
Not everything that one anticipates as a future need is important. There are people who scrimp and scrape for all sorts of things that expire quickly or aren't useful.
All of us trade time for money to some degree - and there's a finite amount of which we get to have. That's why for whatever you delay gratification for and put aside money and time for, make sure that its really important - because its not something you may have time or money to get back later.
On my end, I've noticed in my own life that its easy to get distracted or frustrated when something I want isn't within my reach despite months or years of working hard for it.
It's important to keep your eyes forward and not get dissuaded if that thing is truly important to you - otherwise, be adaptable and reassess your priorities according to your new purposes and responsibilities over time.
3) Fruits [Focus on Good Things]
A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them.
Matthew 7: 18 - 21
Lastly, not everything that we value to be important is good.
Over my rest time, God has been speaking to me about Jesus and The Fig Tree. I've always been particularly amused by this story.
In a nutshell, Jesus gets hungry and decides to look for Figs under a Fig tree to eat some fruit from. He checks this Fig tree for Fruits - and its a big and strong tree but it has no fruit. So Jesus gets disappointed and curses the tree - that it will never bear fruit again.
When I was a kid I always thought it was such a utterly random story. Like it was a ridiculous side of my Lord and Savior - he just woke up and decided to be unhappy about something so seemingly petty.
But over time, I realized the symbolism behind the story - and especially how applicable it could be to my life, where I've been chasing things that are important to me, often at great personal cost - and I'm not always sure that they are good.
Are the things that are important to be of value to others besides myself? Are those things less important than things I could be doing?
Some of us will pursue things that facilitate our own personal growth. And we can grow up to be strong Fig Trees, that are resilient and can't be cut down so easily.
But fruit is a better expression of what is happening in a person’s spirit or heart – how we love and serve others.
For me, I've struggled - and will likely keep struggling - with looking beyond my own growth and into doing things that produce lasting fruit - that leave behind an abundance of goodness for others outside of my own important needs.
You can't let your love of having money distort the opportunity for you to serve beyond yourself when possible. Not everything that is important is good, but its important to do good things.
Money Maverick is a Licensed Financial Consultant with MAS, who specializes in Investments and Critical Illness Insurance. You can reach out to me above.
As one of the Top Financial Bloggers in Singapore (Feedspot, Withcontent.co), I would be happy to answer any emails and questions you may have, as I have been doing for my readers over the past few years - especially about Insurance and Investing, as it is my forte of personal and professional knowledge.
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The views on his blog are strictly of his own opinion and have no affiliation to any of the companies he works with.
Here are some of my resources on:
3) Retirement and Leverage: Leveraging a Private Annuity, Pros and Cons (ft. Jamus Lim)
4) Spending and Saving: The Biggest Spending Mistakes You DIDNT Even Know you were Making (and how to avoid them)
5) Job Assessment: A Case Study on How a $6k/mth GIrl makes MUCH more money than a $10k/mth Guy
6) Financial Optimization: How I Avoid the Largest 'Fees' of All