The Dow Jones Industrial Average has been swinging wildly the last few days, and it’s moving lower each day.
Where will the market close tomorrow? I’m not sure.
I do know that the movement of the stock market and the issues in Washington over the long term fiscal health of the United States of America have begun to catch the attention of a larger number of us. We are paying more attention to our personal finances and the finances of our country.
So what am I doing as the markets melt down?
I’m reminding myself of the few things that I can do in these challenging times:
1. I’m sticking to our financial plan. We have developed a family financial plan that includes giving about 10% to support the work of God through our the church, saving about 10% for retirement, and living on the remaining 80% each month. Since we have a long term investment time horizon, we are going to stick to this plan no matter what the market does today or tomorrow. We will continue to work with our financial advisor to rebalance our investments when our time horizon changes. Right now, I believe our investment plan matches our time horizon and appetite for risk, so I’m trusting that — and our plan.
2. I’m not obsessing. I like to watch the financial markets and be aware of things such as interest rates and currency valuations. I also know I can obsess about these things if I’m not careful. I’ll probably check the news app on my iPhone tonight and see what the pundits say about the market action today. But that’s about it.
But there’s not much I can do about the stock market because . . .
3. I’m busy doing what God has called me to do. I’ve got work to do today that God has called me to do, and that’s be the best and most effective Lutheran pastor of Living Grace Lutheran Church I can be. Today I’ve prayed with people, worked with leaders to plan future ministries, dreamed about where God is leading Living Grace and spent time studying the Word and preparing for worship on Sunday.
This work energizes me and, I believe, makes a difference in the world. God has fine tuned me especially for this work.
Since I link my future with the unique way God has called me to grow the Kingdom, I’m worried less about the stock market. Jesus says, “Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.” (Matthew 6:34, New Living Translation) I’m seeking the Kingdom today and, by the help of the Holy Spirit, trying to live righteously.
4. I’m focusing on my faith. In the parable of the sower, Jesus says that some people never have the chance to produce a “huge harvest” in their lives because the message of the Kingdom is crowded out by “the worries of this life, the lure of wealth, and the desire for other things.” (Mark 4:19, New Living Translation)
My faith and spiritual life transcend any economic cycle or system, so why should I worry so much about the market today? I’m thinking (at least in the USA) that tomorrow my internet connection will work, the grocery store will be open, and the school will be able to deposit my son’s lunch money check. Tomorrow I’m still going to read my Bible, say my prayers and extend God’s love to my wife and kids.
Sure, my 401K will be a little (or a lot) smaller tomorrow, but I sure don’t want my faith to be any smaller.
5. I’m praying. The Christian missionary E. Stanley Jones writes, “There are two ways to be wealthy — one is by having abundant possessions, the other is by having few wants.”
So this is what I’m praying today, “Lord, give me few wants, an abundance mentality, a passion for my work, a heart to give, and a daily reminder that life is about much more than money, it is about living by faith. Give me everything I need today, and then do it again tomorrow, and the next day and the next. Amen.”
This is my plan, and I’m sticking to it.