Tag: stewardship

Living Faithfully – A Practical Guide

by Ron Bare

Without a doubt, my favorite moment when flying on a plane is the descent. We’re finally about to land at our destination, whether it is a beautiful beach, a tropical island, or majestic mountains. And every time, I am in awe at the landscape below me. The way that the mountains, forests, oceans, and cities weave together captures all my attention. It’s stunning.

But I soon start to wonder. How do you get down there? Where does that path lead? Are there waterfalls in that forest that I can’t see from up here? What kind of wildlife lives in those mountains? These questions can only be answered on the path, in the forest, in the mountains, on the ground.

Today I want to take you with me to the ground. Last month, we were on the plane, looking at the idea of faithfulness from 10,000 feet in the air – what it means and what things hinder it. But simply talking about faithfulness can leave us lingering with questions about what it truly looks like on the ground, in real life.

As we consider faithfulness practically, we have six big thoughts and then a few practical tips that we believe are beneficial.

First, remember that God owns everything, and we are simply stewards. When we understand that everything we have belongs to the Lord, our heart is naturally drawn toward gratitude and faithfulness.

Second, work is important! God has given each of us resources to manage and they cannot be managed without discipline. Resources will not grow overnight; we must work to increase and invest in them.

Third, find contentment in the time, talent, and treasure God has given to you. Contentment is hard, that’s just the reality of it. Yet when we become content with our resources, how much easier it is to be faithful! We’re not constantly longing for more, promising that when we get just a little bit more, then we will choose to be faithful.

Similarly, be generous with this time, talent, and treasure! Generosity is the overflow of a content heart. When we understand that nothing we have is truly ours and are not longing for more, we will be generous.

Next, grow what God has given to you! In the parable of the talents, we see the master (Jesus) pleased with those servants who have increased what he originally gave them. While the master is gone, the servants are working hard to invest and even double what the master has given them to manage.

Finally, transfer stewardship to the next steward coming after you! Think of the generations to come after you – what can you teach them about stewardship? What have you learned in your lifetime both from successes and mistakes that can be passed on? Are you investing your wisdom into your kids, grandkids, neighbors, friends at church, or employees?

As we consider what faithfulness looks like, we’ve found two key practices that help get our minds and hearts in the right place.

Studying God’s Word and specifically the passages related to money is a great place to start. There are so many passages, and we’ll list a few of them at the bottom of this post!

Additionally, we’d encourage you to begin each day with this prayer – “God, all I have is yours. What would you have me do with the time, talents and treasure that you have placed in my hands?” As you pray this prayer, consider your impressions. Write them down, share them with your spouse or trusted friends, and engage with what God might have you do.

What have you discovered in your time on the ground? What is God asking you to do with what He has entrusted to you?

Fun fact – there are over 2,300 passages relating to money in the Bible! Here are just a few passages to consider when studying what God’s word says about faithfulness, stewardship, and money.

  • I Timothy 6:17-19
  • Psalm 24:1
  • Jesus’ parables (about one third of them have to do with money)
    • Matthew 13:44-46
    • Matthew 25:14-30
    • Luke 12:13-21
    • Luke 18:10-14
    • Luke 16:1-13
  • 2 Corinthians chapters 8 and 9
  • Malachi chapter 3

A NEW Investment Perspective

by Ron Bare

Beginning to see something with a new perspective changes everything. Many years ago, when you first saw your now-spouse as more than just a friend, it changed everything, didn’t it? When you began to see your job as a calling, it changed everything, didn’t it? And when you started to see your finances as a gift from the Lord and something to be stewarded for His glory, it changed everything, didn’t it?

We believe this same principle can be true with the stock market. If you can start to see the stock market in a new light, it just might change everything. What if instead of seeing your investment as tied to an obscure thing that we have named “the stock market,” you began to see your investment tied to real companies? And not just any companies, but some of the best in the world.

Do you think that would change things? I know it has for me.

All of a sudden instead of investing in an unpredictable, volatile stock market, you become a shareholder in some of the best businesses in the world. When you invest your assets into these companies, you become a part owner and share in their profit. You get to be a part of what each of these companies is doing and how they are impacting the world for the better.

We believe there are a few reasons that this mindset shift is critical.

First, it’s a whole lot easier to trust businesses than the stock market, right? Each business you invest in through the stock market has a business plan, financial advisors, CFO’s, CEO’s, Boards, and marketing professionals to help them be successful. They strive to make the best decision for themselves and their customers. If they start to lose money because of the decisions they’re making, they’ll change what they’re doing. And when these businesses do well, so does the stock market, because they are the stock market.

But what about when crises hit? You know it as well as I do – they’re inevitable. Yet as we look back through time through various crises – COVID, crises in the Middle East, or others, we see a trend in the market values of publicly traded companies. Not only do these companies survive, they often come out stronger on the other side of the crisis. And historically, if you stayed invested over a long period of time, your overall return from these companies far outpaces the rate of inflation.

Nick Murray, a well-known financial advisor, writes about the reality of this trend. Murray writes about the staggering difference between the increase in the dividend (profit distributions) of the S&P 500 (500 of the largest US companies) and the increase in inflation in the 50 years between 1972 and 2022. The dividend increased 21 times while inflation increased 7 times. In addition, The research indicates that dividend increases tend to outpace the rate of inflation. In addition, the pattern is that the increase in the stock market almost always has a positive correlation with earnings growth. (Murray).

Finally, a quick disclaimer. Many people spend a lot time trying to predict the short term direction of our economy and stock market. The truth is, nobody can promise you anything about what the economy or  the stock market may do in the short term. When you invest in the stock market, there are risks involved. That’s just the reality of it. But as we follow the trends of history, we continually see the increases in the value of these companies far outpace inflation and we see the market value of these companies following earnings.

So why not reframe our perspective? Rather than thinking we’re investing in an unpredictable stock market, let’s change our mindset and understand that we are investing in some of the greatest companies in the world. Many of these companies are making a positive difference through the products and services they provide, and when you step into long-term investment with them, you get to be a part of something greater than yourself!

SOURCES

Murray, Nick. Nick Murray Interactive, vol. 23, no. 7, July 2023, pp. 1–2.

Formula for IMPACT – part two

by Ron Bare

Alan and Katherine Barnhart gave away their company. They had spent years working on building a strong company and growing their sales but gave it all away in the end. “God is not impressed with the commas and zeroes,” Alan said. “We’re not giving away anything that God hasn’t given us.”

They were confident knowing that God owned their resources and that they had defined enough. Intentional future planning gave them the freedom to make such a generous decision.

Defining enough is an important step in recognizing that God owns everything that we have, and that endless accumulation is not what we were created for. Let us instead use our resources to join in God’s mission, spreading the Gospel through our generosity toward others. This is easier said than done, but there are six steps that we believe will help you define enough.

  • First, add up all your monthly expenses. This includes your mortgage, utilities, transportation, groceries, etc. Providing for your family is good and right, and requires planning.
  • Second, define your wants and enjoyments. This might include vacations, date nights, eating out, entertainment, etc. It’s important to enjoy life and spend time doing things you love!
  • Third, come up with a total annual spending/living goal. Once your needs and wants are defined, you can plan for both your living expenses and the things you enjoy.
  • Fourth, define how much you will need to accumulate to meet this goal of ‘enough.’ We would love to talk with you about this at Bare. This will cover what it looks like to work, save, and invest in order to have enough and then move forward to give in generous ways.
  • Fifth, pay off your debts! This is a crucial part of being financially free. When debts are not hanging over your head, you are free to move forward with saving, investing, and giving. 
  • Finally, build a base giving goal into your financial plan and try to expand this giving each year. 2 Corinthians 8:7 says, “But since you excel in everything—in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in complete earnestness and in the love we have kindled in you—see that you also excel in this grace of giving” (NIV). How can you excel at giving? We encourage you to set an annual giving goal and then plan to expand that goal each year!

We’ve seen a variety of creative giving over the years in our clients’ lives. We’ve seen clients give the growth of their portfolio away, give their business to charity, and others have given real estate away. How can you be generous with the things God has given to you? We’d love to help you talk through what this could look like for you.

Alan and Katherine are just one example of someone who is generous with what God has given them. It’s such a great gift to the people they interact with and the communities they influence. It’s honoring to God as they remember the one who has given them all that they have.

To learn more about Alan and Katherine’s story, watch this video.

Nothing New Under the Sun

by Ron Bare

Perhaps the most common mistake made when making investment decisions is making ANY investment decision outside the context of a written financial plan based on your goals and values. That is why Bare Wealth Advisors does not create investment portfolios for our clients without a plan.

Without a plan we are left to the news headlines and predictions from all the market “experts” – most of which are fear driven. Fear is a good salesperson, and financial journalism is guilty of “selling” the headline that will generate the most clicks. We believe wealth is ultimately a resource entrusted to us to maximize the impact and calling God has given us. We should never succumb to fear headlines and financial journalism’s goal of making short term investment decisions based on what the market may do over the next few months.

As Ecclesiastes tells us, “nothing is new under the sun.” Over the past year we have seen the following: war, inflation, rising interest rates, recession fears, supply chain constraints, and most recently the failure of Silicon Vally Bank (a tech focused bank which had heavy losses the past year). All this on top of coming out of a closed economy due to the Covid 19 pandemic, can be exhausting and emotional – however, none of these are “new under the sun!” We live in an uncertain world and one benefit of a financial plan is to help you plan for what we call the “certainty of uncertainty”.

Our advice is and always will be the same – think long term, diversify, minimize debt, live generously, live within your means, and create a tailored financial plan based on the individual values, purpose, and goals your family has established. However, in the meantime let me share a few thoughts regarding our current economic state.

There has been much discussion recently regarding the cause of the inflation we have been experiencing. Basic economics tell us that when you create too much of something the value of that something is reduced. The total M2 (money supply – or simply just think money in all bank accounts) increased by 40% during a two-year window of the pandemic.  (Over $6 Trillion!) For perspective, the normal increase in M2 is about 6% per year. It does not take a rocket scientist to figure out this may reduce the value of money (the definition of inflation). The good news (of course nobody is focusing on any good news) is that M2 has decreased over the past 12 months and many leading indicators are showing that inflation is subsiding. It will take some time, but inflation is heading in the right direction – lower!

Remember, even though some indicators show inflation is declining, it is always challenging to predict what will happen in the “short-term.” More importantly, short term is not where we or you should focus. We are long term planners focused on the impact your resources can help you make over the next 10, 20 or 30 years!

As I wrap up these thoughts, I would like to encourage us all to make sure we receive the proper “inputs.” Begin with the NEVER changing word of God (Bible), understand the principles of truth and ask for wisdom to apply them to your life. Then surround yourself with advisors that know and care about you, listen to you and share your values, and can help you discern how to apply wisdom to the vision and impact God is calling you and your family to make – in this short life we have been privileged to live. Thank you for allowing us at Bare Wealth Advisors to be one of your trusted advisors, we are honored!

Impact – Why we do what we do!

Bare Services

by Ron Bare

“Through intentional stewardship and extravagant giving, Bare Wealth Advisors help generous people shift the culture and change the world for the glory of God.”

As we have been writing about in our latest series of blogs and articles, our vision is to not only help you plan strategically with your finances, but our main desire is to help you maximize your impact (with the financial capital you are stewarding) for the next generation and for the good you desire to have on this earth. The quote that begins this blog is what we are calling our “impact statement.” We have seen and believe that intentional money management and generosity are a key element to making the impact we desire.

Throughout history there have been individuals that God has used to shift culture for the glory of God. Billy Graham, William Wilberforce, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Corrie ten Boom, Rosa Parks, and Martin Luther King all come to mind as individuals that used their time, talent and treasure to make a difference in our world. To a great extent, we are benefactors of their efforts. You can read more about some of these individuals in Eric Metaxas Books; Seven Men and Seven Women.

Often as you look behind the names mentioned above you can find others who have supported these movements with their gifts – including financial gifts. I think of William Tyndale, responsible for translating the Bible into English (putting his life on the line!) and how this may never have happened without Humphrey Monmouth who financially backed the endeavor. I also think of John Newton, responsible for writing many hymns including “Amazing Grace”, who also mentored William Wilberforce to use his gifting’s in politics rather than go into “ministry.” Wilberforce went on to help lead the abolishment of the English slave trade. Without John Thornton’s financial support from his successful business enterprises we may not know of the name John Newton or William Wilberforce –  that jolts me! You can read more about these stories in John Rinehart’s book, “Gospel Patrons.”

These stories inspire us to think about our impact. We may not be Billy Graham, William Wilberforce or Mother Theresa – however what if we are those who are to support and financially fund the movements in 2023 that will shape the next 50 – 100 years of history? There has never been a more prosperous time in history, and with that in mind, we must ask ourselves – what does God want me to do with his resources (that He has entrusted to us) to make an impact in our culture today?

We have a great opportunity. Lets expand our vision of what God may want to do through our stewardship and generosity so we can shift the culture and change the world for the glory of God. William Wilberforce had a dream to end the slave trade – as a result of him fulfilling this calling, generations have been changed, culture has shifted and God has been glorified. We can do the same! Our desire at Bare Wealth Advisors is to help you leave this kind of impact!

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