Financial Stewardship: Don't Bury Talents
by Winters Richwine | October 2018
“Then you ought to have invested my money… I should have received what was my own with interest.” -Matthew 25:27
As an investment consultant for Christian nonprofits, Cornerstone Management often encounters organizations with a conservative philosophy toward investing. We believe that approach can be wise stewardship, particularly when we consider that the funds entrusted to the organizations are blessings from God through donors. One of our key services is helping organizations develop and articulate their investment philosophy, and we can bring a conservative lean to an organization’s investment program.
Unfortunately, we at times encounter ministries that are unwilling to invest at all. These organizations simply hold large amounts of money in accounts which earn little to no interest. Per Jesus’s parable about the three servants stewarding their master’s talents, we believe this approach is not wise stewardship for long-term assets.
In the parable, Jesus tells the story of a man who leaves his home on a journey. The man gives talents (precious metals; currency) to each of three servants.
Two of the three servants traded (invested) the talents given to them. These investments proved fruitful and grew in value. Motivated by fear, the third servant buried a talent in the ground. This talent, of course, did not grow in value, and the master was angered. The master takes the talent from the third servant and gives it to the first servant, who had been able to increase the value of the assets originally entrusted to him. The parable teaches us that the assets in our hands belong to our Master and that we should maximize them for His purposes.
A herald of this trust was dc Talk, my favorite band (and a greater teacher) during my teenage years. The lyrics of the band’s song “Time Is…” state:
You got a gift and you best start using it
‘Cause if you don’t you’re gonna wind up losing it
Just like the brother who buried it deep
The task was simple but the price was steep
While investing does have ups and downs, on average historically it has been a winning proposition. The economic cost of avoiding investing – of not using the gifts entrusted to the organization – can be steep. While any use of assets (even placing them in a checking account!) has a risk of loss, an investment program can be designed to achieve a level of risk that the organization can withstand. Ultimately, a responsible investment program gives an organization an opportunity to grow financial assets to be utilized in future ministry.
Please reach out to our team at Cornerstone Management if we can help you responsibly grow the financial assets entrusted to your organization.