Four Principles of Stewardship

The concept of Stewardship isn’t anything new to most people, but I came across some old notes that were personally influential in how it manifests itself in our everyday life.  A thank you to Hugh Whelchel from the Institute for Faith, Work & Economics for shaping this for me.  

We can distill four principles from the Bible as it relates to Stewardship.

1. Ownership
God has created everything - the world and all the things, included us, within it.  In the Creation account, God creates the earth and puts man in charge to work and take care of it.  Work is the stewardship of all of creation.  God owns everything - we’re simply managers.  And lest we think our hard work has led to any rights, Deuteronomy 8:18 reminds us that it is God who gives us the ability to produce wealth.  

2. Responsibility 
As managers - not owners - God has graciously entrusted us with the care, the development, and the enjoyment of what he fully owns.  We’re responsible to manage well, and do our best to do it according to his desires and his purposes.  

3. Accountability
With the backdrop of recognizing we are responsible for something God owns, we will eventually be held responsible for how we did so.  We’re called to exercise dominion over creation, and like the servants in the parable of the talents we’ll be called to give account to this.  It includes treasure (income and assets), but it also includes time (how we spend our days) and talent (abilities, wisdom, relationships, and authority).  

4. Reward
In addition to the parable of talents, Paul also reminds us in Colossians 3 that we are to work at everything we do as working for the Lord, not for men - since we “know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward.”  This is a tricky area, as it’s easily misconstrued portraying God as a genie, that if we rub a magic lamp the right way all of our desires will be fulfilled.  I’ve come to believe that immediate reward might be true - in a limited way - and we may receive a partial reward in this life, but the full reward is in the next. 
Interesting Resources 

1. The Belle Curve - Life Insurance is Not For Savings
It seems I’ve been having a recent surge of conversation with clients recently about how in the vast majority of the time, insurance protection should be obtained in the form of term insurance versus whole life.  This was a timely article that unpacks this a bit more on how even if whole life insurance may make sense, it’s still not a great investment vehicle compared to other available alternatives.  

2. Jerry Bowyer (Towhhall Finance) - Jesus vs. The Rich Senator 
Not for a casual reading session, this article dives deep into Jesus’ confrontation with the rich young ruler found in all the Gospel accounts, in which the famous difficulty for the rich to enter the kingdom of God is discussed.  There is a ton of eye-opening research (not the least of which is a difference between entering Heaven and entering the Kingdom of God), but what I learned most was how Jesus’ message wasn’t so much targeted at the man because he was wealthy, but because he was a public servant who was defrauding those under him, especially the poor.  And since the culture was very much so agriculture and land-focused in measuring wealth, Jesus was actually giving financial advice in selling the land because he was forecasting the Roman invasion in which that land would be given to Roman generals - and if the land were sold, the man would have been able to flee to the network of Christians which the donations would have helped create.  

3 - A Wealth of Common Sense - The Best Performing Stocks
Everyone talks about investing in FAANG (Facebook, Amazon, Apple, Netflix, Google/Alphabet) and their recent impressive runs, but what about Patrick Industries, Jazz Pharmaceuticals, MGP Ingredients, Sleep Number, and GTT Communications?  No?  Well these are the top 5 best performing stocks since the market bottomed in March of 2009.  They are up 39,800%, 28,600%, 17,500%, 14,800%, and 13,900% respectively.  No typos.  I ran my own calculations on this, and a portfolio equally balanced among them would have had an annualized average return of 93.66% from March of 09 through this week - meaning a $100,000 initial investment would have grown to a cool $52 million.  [Full disclosure: I didn’t have any of these in my personal accounts, nor any individually directly held in client accounts].  

The catch: if you draw back the time frame by just two years to 2007, the top four of these experienced losses of 98, 97, 95, and 99% at some point along the way.  GTT saved you some by “only” losing 81%. The article closes by accurately saying: the best-performing stocks are often like a lottery ticket.  It’s fun to dream about but the chances of striking it rich by holding onto these types of stocks are minimal.  [Bonus reading material is the older article of when individuals stocks don’t come back.]
See something that catches your eye during the week?  Feel free to shoot it over my way and I'd love to discuss.  

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