Human tendencies are reliable. They do their dead level best to distract you from God’s plan for your investing and will almost always mislead you. The problem is that, when separated from the word of God, we humans tend to be quite a shortsighted lot. For an example of this in action, we need look no further than an average day of trading on Wall Street, or any other exchange around the world for that matter. Up one day. Down the next. It’s difficult to assess any sort of legitimate value underpinning a company’s stock.
Perhaps due to the 24/7 news cycle, speculators have stepped in to help the market react in knee jerk fashion to the latest tsunami in Japan or round of political upheaval in the Middle East. It’s all chaos and static, which are difficult characteristics to invest under. The problem of human tendencies makes itself most apparent when you make the mistake of paying attention to all the – for lack of a better term – crap that assaults your eyes and ears every day.
Do you check the value of your portfolio holdings on a daily basis? More than once a day? That way lies madness and is about as far from God’s investing plan as you can get. Have you ever stopped to consider that such behavior implies you have more confidence in yourself, financial adviser, or money manager than God? We believe this is a serious mistake.
Proverbs 3: 25-26 lays it all out in quite clear wording.
Have no fear of sudden disaster or of the ruin that overtakes the wicked, for the LORD will be your confidence and will keep your foot from being snared.
If you run for the computer to check stock quotes first thing in the morning, you’re not only declining to show confidence in the Lord, but probably falling into the eternal trap of greed as well. Lest you forget what Jesus had to say about greed, here’s a quick reminder from Luke 12:15.
Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; a man’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.
Maybe you are dead certain your problem is not a lack of confidence in God or an abundance of greed, but rather poor impulse control. That’s no surprise. Human tendencies are replete with decisions driven by “hot tips” or “once in a lifetime opportunity.” This is all hyperactive impatience. God’s investment plan calls for planning, diligence, and patience. Unfortunately, medical science does not have a pill to control poor impulse control yet. Perhaps a better solution is to sit down with God and the Bible and pray a little. Maybe a lot. The simple act of getting closer to Him can serve to draw you further from the human tendencies that love to separate you from your faith.
While there is no hard and fast rule about what constitutes obsessing on your investments, if it’s a problem you probably already realize it. In the absence of another plan of attack, you might try a simple approach that works for many. Plan to spend a fair amount of time in prayer over your investments once per quarter. Make adjustments then and only then. In between your personal quarterly reviews, turn off the business channel and forget the names Jim Cramer and Lou Dobbs. These are showman hired for their glitz and bombast. Nothing more.
A simple rule for buying and selling each quarter could include selling those assets which have increased in value and buying more of those that haven’t. This nicely dovetails with the idea of taking a reasonable profit and buying low rather than high. It doesn’t have to be brain surgery and, unless you happen to be a financial adviser, there’s no excuse for obsessing on the daily blips of a stock chart. Even if you are a financial adviser, it might do you good to step back and look at the big picture now and then.
We’ve spent a lot of time here talking about the stock market, only for the reason that it is the form of investing most people are familiar with, but don’t make the mistake of thinking Wall Street is the only game in town. Remember a guy in the Bible by the name of King Solomon? He became the richest man in history through God’s benevolence and a little thing called real estate. Well, real estate is still around today. They’re not making any more, which contributes to scarcity, and keeps quietly chugging away in the background, creating more fortunes for average Americans than the stock market ever did.
How do you know if the stock market is right for you? Here’s a crazy idea – pray about it!
The Solomon Success Team
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