Published On: Mon, Feb 19th, 2024

To Arrive Safely, It Is Wise To Stay In The Boat


Even in the so-called secular business and professional world, the Bible has much to teach us. For instance, Matthew 14 recounts a time Jesus walked on water while His disciples were in a storm-tossed boat. One of them, Peter, ever the enthusiast, wanted to join Him. So, Jesus invited him to “come.” For the first few steps, all went well for Peter. But then he noticed the wind, became fearful, began to sink, and cried out for Jesus to save him. As He did so, Jesus admonished Peter for having too little faith.

This story is a vivid call for all Christ-followers to leave our “comfort zones” and live boldly. In terms of financial investing, however, boldness is not always the best approach. Here are some reasons why managers of God’s resources usually are better served by staying on board.

Stewardship, managing God’s wealth with His priorities and purposes in mind, is an assignment given every Christ-follower. Just as this story begins with Jesus giving His disciples an assignment (“Get into the boat and go ahead of Me to the other side”), God gives us wealth-related marching orders. We are on a journey during which we are forewarned we will encounter our share of trouble. “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world” (John 16:33). Being a good steward of God’s resources requires obedience and faith.

We need an investing ‘boat’ that will carry us safely across occasionally turbulent economic waters. In stewardship terms, our boat is a biblically sound, personalized money-management strategy. It guides our spending, saving, investing, and generosity. Every financial decision should flow from our plan, designed to assure our safe arrival at the end of our financial journey.

Unlike Peter, we need to stay in our boat. Unfortunately, many followers of Jesus do not even take the time to build their financial “boat.” Or if they have one, they do not always stay in it. Being in the boat is usually a lot safer than being in churning waters.

Expect the wind and storms. Jesus’ disciples knew ahead of time that heavy headwinds on the water were a possibility, if not a likelihood. In the same way, you know there will be challenges on your financial journey. These challenges can take many forms — unemployment, unexpected expenses, health setbacks, a bad economy, weak financial markets. We should anticipate and plan for them.

Ignore the wind and focus on Christ. The wind can cause us to grow fearful and react inappropriately. We should stay in our “boat, and trust the One who has said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you” (Hebrews 13:5).

Failure is not an event, but rather a judgment about an event. The financial environment does not always offer positive reinforcement. Over the short term, we can lose money following our plan, or we can make money deviating from it. When this happens, we might see “good” behavior as a failure and “bad” behavior as being rewarded. The judgment we make about any financial “failure” must be made within the context of our personalized plan. Decisions consistent with our plan are “wins,” regardless of the immediate outcome. Over the long term, staying with a structured, unemotional strategy for making investment decisions will serve us well. If we are trusting God for direction, we have succeeded.

Austin Pryor has more than 40 years of experience advising investors and is the founder of the Sound Mind Investing newsletter and website. He is the author of The Sound Mind Investing Handbook, endorsed by many respected Christian teachers, with more than 100,000 copies sold. Austin lives in Louisville, Kentucky, with his wife Susie.

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