Does Your Spending Reflect Your Values?
- 2012 30 Mar
Recently, US retail giant Wal-Mart made a big announcement relating to its plans to create a database which would reveal how environmental friendly its suppliers, manufacturers, and their products are. According to Wal-Mart they would create what is called a sustainability index that would be implemented over a series of three phases. This would include analyzing over 100,000 of its suppliers and understanding how they operate, where a product is made, and its environmental policies (such as greenhouse gas emissions, water use, and solid waste disposal).
This is a huge step in what ultimately may influence how people shop and what brands and products they support. Over the past few years, I have been a huge advocate of knowing what you own in your portfolio as well as the products and services you buy.
Every day you vote with your wallet. Where you work, where you spend, donate and even invest is a reflection of your values. With this comes a huge moral responsibility. Just because you turn a blind eye to where your money is going doesn’t mean you are not supporting companies that contradict your value system. Hosea 4:6 reads, “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge” (niv). It is often are lack of knowledge that destroys our ability to create change in our society.
Who is the Owner?
What we possess is not ours. The Bible tells us God created everything between heaven and earth. He owns everything. We are responsible for managing our lives, our money, and our possessions on God’s behalf. Because everything we possess is ultimately His, we are essentially God’s managers. Many believe that only the first 10 percent belongs to God (a tithe), but in reality, He owns the other 90 percent as well. He graciously loans us resources based on our ability to manage. Will you become a faithful manager? Will you seek to better understand where your money is going and what your money is voting for?
The parable of the talents (see Matthew 25:14-30) illustrates the power of being a faithful manager. With each level of responsibility, the amounts given to the servants differed, but each was entrusted with something. The rewards were not based on the amounts given, but rather on the increase that resulted from the amount given. God gives you responsibility based on what you can handle. You have been given something that is important to God; you can please Him through being faithful with what He has provided and called you to do.
Being a faithful manager encompasses more than money. It involves management of every single area of our daily lives. Do you believe you or God is the owner of everything? Your belief is illustrated each time you make a decision. Are you in control or is God? Either we attempt to take God out of the picture (the reason for the fall of Adam in the garden), or we seek to move closer to God (the triumph of Jesus).
It goes Beyond Spending…
There are many companies that produce products and services that blatantly oppose what you believe in. You may be knowingly or unknowingly investing in companies that are fighting against moral issues, social issues and causes dear to you. You may not even realize that you have a choice as to where you invest and that you can avoid investing in companies that contradict your belief system.
The following is a list of causes and concerns that may affect your moral decisions. These hot buttons are the most common examples of issues that generate strong emotional responses. If any of these issues are of concern to you, I strongly advise that you begin to consider the implications of investing in companies that violate your internal moral compass. There are tools and research available to help you eliminate or minimize your involvement in these hot buttons.
Human Rights of the Poor
Embryonic Stem-Cell Research
Poor Environmental Record
Here is a question to ponder: Would you purposely invest money in companies involved in any of the areas listed above? After taking some time to examine this list, what issues, if any, most resonated with you? Are there any areas in which you wish to avoid investing in your financial life? If any of these issues ignite strong emotional responses, is your passion strong enough that you want to do something about it?
Originally posted July 31, 2009.
Jay Peroni, CFP® is a renowned financial advisor and author of The Faith-Based Millionaire (foreword by Dan Miller, author of 48 Days To the Work You Love) and The Faith-Based Investor, and is considered an expert authority on the subject of "Faith-Based Investing. He is the founder of www.faithbasedinvestor.com, a faith-based investing newsletter and the founder of Values First Advisers, Inc. a firm dedicated to faith-based financial planning and money management.