Radicalized By Gratitude

The parable of the prodigal son has a lot to teach us.  It can profoundly impact how we view relationships, forgiveness, repentance, pride, and the nature of God’s grace.  But it should also instruct us in another way, by making us consider how we should think about money.    

In Jesus’ parable, the younger son asked for his share of the family’s inheritance and, subsequently, traveled to a foreign country and squandered it on “wild living.”  The younger son believed that wealth would allow him to escape from his circumstances and be freed.  This reflects our own dominant cultural view that the surest path to freedom is money: those with the greatest financial means can exhibit the most freedom.

The Offensive Generosity of God

The parables of Jesus have a way of pulling off the veil and revealing what we really love and care about.  They often challenge our deeply held beliefs.  This is especially true of Jesus’ “Parable of the Workers in the Vineyard” in Matthew 20: 1-16.  

Jesus tells the story of a landowner who goes out at 6 AM to hire workers for his vineyard.  The landowner agrees to hire them for the equivalent of a common day’s wage.  He then proceeds to hire more workers at 9 AM, noon, 3 PM, and finally 5 PM.  None of these other workers hired later in the day are offered a specific amount of compensation for their work.  Instead, the landowner simply tells them “whatever is right I will give you.”

Unconventional Wisdom for Financial Advisors

It's been over a decade since I first started thinking about my financial planning career as a potential ministry. But only more recently have I really sought - and struggled - to reconcile the words of scripture pertaining to money with the prevailing wisdom of the financial industry.

I could sum up the crux of the challenge in two words: unexamined assumptions.  We all have beliefs about the way the world works and the way any particular industry works.  These are more often “caught” than taught; the types of things we learn through observation and unspoken rules.