A Christian Perspective on Retirement Investing
by D. Leeman, Senior Partner, Retirement Surety
As a committed Christian, I ask myself and my clients an important question: What does the Bible say about planning for retirement? How do we solve the paradox between “Take no thought for tomorrow…” (Matt.6:25) or “go to the ant, you sluggard; consider its ways and be wise…they store up their food in the summer” (Prov.6:6; 30:25)?
This apparent paradox can be clarified by the consideration of three biblical words found throughout scripture: Stewardship, Diligence, and Contentment. They bring our thinking into balance.
The word STEWARDSHIP is a common word used in discipleship training. Jesus taught parables regarding being good stewards of the resources we are given, whether they be material or spiritual. (Matt. 25) Being a good steward creates boundaries to risk and reward. A good steward does not bury the talents for fear of losing. But neither does a good steward put the talents at risk. Applied to retirement planning it requires the examination of how our investment will function. Are we gambling through investing in choices with little ability to manage the results or with strategies that offer little to no contractual guarantees of performance? Would a good steward put significant amounts in anything that has historically and consistently caused considerable losses even though there may be occasions of great profit? Do we put God’s financial blessings at risk just because that investment is a conventional, highly promoted, albeit worldly approach? My answer is no.
The book of Proverbs leaves little doubt that DILIGENCE is a duty for a child of God. Diligence includes educating ourselves on investment options, taking time to observe the history and the results of our investing, and actively caring for the future---not with worry, but with wisdom. Throwing up our hands and saying, “I’ll never retire” or “I’ll just live with my kids” reveals an attitude of carelessness or
un-diligence. Prioritize sufficient time and effort in learning to be good stewards of your money. Ultimately diligence prioritizes your spending so that there are funds available for future years.
CONTENTMENT is the last word you are likely to hear from most financial advisors! But contentment in life is a biblical goal. The letter to the Hebrews reminds us, "live free from the love of money and be content with what you have" (13:5) Unfortunately, the opposite of contentment is greed— Greed is what causes people to gamble their money on speculative investments or invest in something that is “too good to be true.” The alternative to retiring comfortably is not to retire uncomfortably, but to live as an offering to God and for God. I understand my life as a gift that is managed so that I can afford to give it away at any age. I believe I should organize my life as if it were something to use up, to give away, to expend.