NAVIGATING THE TRUMP ECONOMY

                                                                                                                                              Ecclesiastes 11:1-6

Many people are celebrating the election of billionaire Donald Trump as the greatest hope for economic expansion since the Reagan era. Deutsche Bank’s chief economist, David Folkerts-Landau, predicts growth in the 2018 American economy of double the 1.5% rate in 2016.[1] But financial markets loathe uncertainty, and even with his Wharton Business School training and personal success, Trump the business man is harder to nail down than the most Teflon-coated politicians. Nevertheless, says Folkerts-Landau, “While Trump introduces higher uncertainty, this is better than the near certainty of the continuation of a mediocre status quo.”

Excitement breeds irrationality, especially in investing. That’s why having King Solomon’s advice on wealth management is so important as the Trump era looms: it looks at risk and reward through the crystal clear lens of a biblical worldview.

Who is Solomon? Only the wisest and wealthiest man who ever lived, the Warren Buffett of 1000 B.C., except that Solomon makes Buffett look like a B-grade celebrity.

Not counting the assets he inherited from King David, or the taxes he levied on Israel, and other tribute he received, Solomon’s annual income in gold in today’s dollars was roughly $1.1B. He ruled for forty years. Do the math and it’s no surprise that when Solomon spoke, people listened.[2]

Solomon saw two hazards connected to money management: greed and sloth. Greed consumes us with the search for wealth. Sloth induces poverty, and all the troubles that go with it, through either laziness or adversity. Both are results of the Fall. Solomon’s three-fold advice protects us from them.

FIRST: DIVERSIFY, DIVERSIFY, DIVERSIFY

Keep in mind that in his earlier book, Proverbs, Solomon talked a lot about hard work and diligence. He’s assuming at this point that you’ve done the basics, learned to live within your means, gotten out of debt, created an emergency fund, and begun to set some aside for old age, and you have something with which to invest. Now, he’s saying “Diversify your investments. Don’t put all your eggs in one basket.”

I’ve been investing, and watching others invest successfully, for over thirty years and they all have the following in common: They never invest in something they don’t understand, they aren’t gambling on a get-rich-quick scheme, and they all diversify.

SECOND: BE DARING

The wind is going to blow, and the rain is going to fall, and sometimes it’s going to blow and rain on you and your investments. You can’t wait until you are absolutely certain that everything you invest will pay off because one hundred percent certainty is impossible after the Fall. Some risk must be assumed. Invest anyway.

Basketball star and billionaire business man Michael Jordan knows about risk. “I’ve missed more than 9000 shots in my career,” he says. “I’ve lost almost 300 games. 26 times, I’ve been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.” [3]

Some of us go through life with a hyper-security mindset, afraid to risk, whether money, creativity, time, effort, or love, afraid “to take the shot,” because we are afraid that we will not receive back what we put in. Guess what? THAT’S RIGHT! Invest yourself, invest your gifts, invest your money, invest your love in people, in ministries, in businesses, and I can guarantee you will lose, at least some of the time.

But I can also guarantee the corollary: If you never take the risk, if you wait till you think everything is just right, you will never gain anything, ever. You will wilt on the vine. Trust God and take your best shot.

THIRD: BE DILIGENT

Since you can’t know all of the variables, you can’t control all of the conditions, and you can’t predict which investment will win and which one will lose, don’t waste worry over the unknowable and impossible. Make full use of each day you’ve been given. Sow your seed in the morning, but don’t stand there fretting over it, saying “hurry up and grow!” Go find something else that needs doing, some other avenue for investing your time and energy, and stay at it till the sun goes down. Be diligent.

Be Diversified, Be Diligent, Be Daring. If you do those things, at least one and sometimes many of your investments will pay off. You will find financial success.

[1] http://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-trump-deutsche-bank-idUSKBN14U1MU

[2] http://www.biblestudy.org/basicart/how-rich-was-solomon.html

[3] http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/m/michaeljor127660.html

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