By Doug Hanson
My family and I like to play board games and our favorite is the strategic game, “Settlers of Catan.” The goal of the game is to become the largest settler on an island through acquiring resources (brick, wood, grain, ore, and wool) and building structures (settlements, cities, and roads). Players can strategically trade resources to gain the right material to build. Players that trade without forethought jeopardize their chance to win – they trade away resources they need, or they provide key resources to a competing player.
Using strategy in a board game like “Settlers of Catan” is important, but it pales in comparison to strategies we need in life. What’s our strategy for raising our children, for our marriage, for our health, for our spiritual well-being, for our money? Scripture encourages us to think strategically in all aspects of our lives: “Give careful thought to the paths for your feet and be steadfast in all your ways” (Proverbs 4:26). A good strategy involves wisdom.
Webster’s Unabridged Dictionary defines wisdom as “knowledge, and the capacity to make due use of it.” Wisdom is replete in Scripture, especially prevalent in three books of the Old Testament called wisdom literature (Job, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes). Wisdom literature provides general principles of life, not promises. In wisdom literature we see the astute application of knowledge, guiding us in the way we should live. Ecclesiastes 11:1-6 provides us wisdom for investing. If we want to be biblically responsible investors, the passage has four principles for us to consider.
Invest for Profit – Ecclesiastes 11:1 encourages us to “Cast your bread on the surface of the waters, for you will find it after many days.” This verse may refer to merchants sending their ships full of grain across the seas, anticipating profits in return. Or it could refer to farmers planting seed in rain-soaked or flood-soaked fields, anticipating a fruitful harvest in return. Either way, the emphasis is on putting our resources to work and waiting for them to grow. Let’s not sit idly by while stewarding God’s blessings in our lives, let’s invest to care for ourselves and to bless others.
Invest Diversely – While verse one encourages us to invest, verses two and three encourage us to spread those investments around: “Divide your portion to seven, or even to eight, for you do not know what misfortune may occur on the earth. If the clouds are full, they pour out rain upon the earth; and whether a tree falls toward the south or toward the north, wherever the tree falls, there it lies.” A wise merchant transports grain on multiple ships, in case one ship sinks. A wise farmer plants in multiple fields, in case one field doesn’t produce. Likewise, we should diversify our investments in case one investment doesn’t perform as expected.
Invest Now – I am often asked when the best time is to invest. A wise response is found in verses four and five: “He who watches the wind will not sow and he who looks at the clouds will not reap. Just as you do not know the path of the wind and how bones are formed in the womb of the pregnant woman, so you do not know the activity of God who makes all things.” The best time to invest is “now” because it is notoriously difficult to time the market. The market will fluctuate but has always recovered with time. Just as a farmer can’t always wait for the perfect day to plant, we shouldn’t try to time the market when we invest.
Invest Regularly – The final principal found in Ecclesiastes 11 is from verse 6: “Sow your seed in the morning and do not be idle in the evening, for you do not know whether morning or evening sowing will succeed, or whether both of them alike will be good.” This verse encourages the farmer to sow in the morning and in the evening to be most successful in raising a crop. In the investing world, this is referred to as Dollar Cost Averaging. If we invest the same amount monthly, let’s say on the first of the month, studies have shown that we end up with more shares over the long-term since we organically take advantage of down days in the market.
If we have a poor strategy in board games, there is little impact on our lives. However, if we have a poor strategy in the more important aspects of life – including investing – there can be a significant impact on our lives. Scripture’s wisdom literature exists for our benefit. Let’s use it.
Doug Hanson is an investment advisor with Christian Wealth Management in Boise, providing biblically responsible investment advice to Christians. For more information, visit investforthegloryofgod.com or contact him at [email protected] or (208) 697-3699.
Investment advisory services provided by Creative Financial Designs, Inc. Securities are offered through CFD Investments, Inc., Member FINRA & SIPC. 2704 South Goyer Road, Kokomo, IN 46902, 795-453-9600. Christian Wealth Management, LLC is not affiliated with CFD Investments, Inc. or Creative Financial Designs, Inc.