Stewardship as surrender
From an article by Faith Driven Investor
Robert Kim is an advisor at Caprock, a B Corp that advises families and foundations to help steward investment assets toward financial and impact objectives. After travelling to different parts of the world on short-term mission trips, Robert started imagining the role of investing as a tool to uplift communities – as a conduit of God’s blessings.
He writes on three elements of stewardship that stay close to his heart through personal experience:
1. A reaction to God's love
One of the most meaningful gifts I’ve received is a set of experiences that provided a sense of purpose and direction. Those experiences are many and include:
getting to know an orphan in Mongolia who didn’t have the means to pursue college despite her excellent academic track record
visiting a former gang leader, who was also my friend’s uncle, in a prison in Mexico
witnessing a path of a 12-year old Native American boy into a gang life due to his community not being able to break out of cyclical poverty
witnessing the economic decisions that prostitutes had to make in Thailand to care for their children
witnessing the passion of an Afghanistan refugee in Greece who has risked everything
Through all of these experiences, I saw the depth of struggles many around the world face. But, I also sensed God’s deep love for them. After some research, I came to understand a deeper economic structure issues that excluded these people from accessing resources to pursue their dreams with dignity.
These experiences gave me a strong sense of purpose. My reaction to these experiences was a broken heart and a prayer. I remember praying in winter of 2011, “God, I want to invest as much of your assets as possible for the benefit of these people you love”. The prayer led to cold-calling 500+ institutions and taking a 75% pay cut to create a role and invest in social entrepreneurs tackling these issues.
Stewardship begins with our passionate reaction to gifts God gives us—even if it’s a small step. We ought to passionately react, intellectually probe, and act toward our call. Money can only go as far as our vision takes us. Stewarding our vision is a starting point to financial stewardship.
2. God is willing to meet you where you are
The hard truth is that stewardship involves a form of surrendering. And, it’s hard to surrender. This leads to the second element of stewardship—we don’t need to be a saint to begin the life of stewardship. Even after encountering these powerful experiences, I prayed, “God, I’m willing to give you the next 5 years of my life to do whatever you want me to. I’m too afraid to give you my entire future, or even the next 10 years. 5 years seem reasonable since I’ll still be young enough to find a stable and comfortable job if this pursuit doesn’t work out”.
It’s quite possible that God would’ve done more amazing things if I surrendered more. But, God was still willing to meet me where I was. While he continued to push me to enlarge my boundaries, he was willing to work with my risk appetite.
3. It involves sacrifice
Once you draw out your boundaries, you can be as creative as possible and discern what or how to sacrifice to live a life of a steward. For me and many families and institutions I manage the assets for, this particularly applies to redemptive investing. As investors, we often think about concessionary returns as a sacrifice. But there are other forms of sacrifice, all centred around the theme of proximity. Proximity is one of the most crucial elements of redemptive investing.
To get close to communities we serve, we need to surrender our authority as investors and participate in the suffering of the vulnerable. Examples of doing this are:
we can yield our decision making authority and invite the vulnerable into the investment decision process. They have a deeper understanding of the issues we as investors want to address.
we need to surrender our expertise and work with others who are pursuing the same goals, often with experience already e.g. scale and “last-mile” relationships in local regions.
we need to sacrifice our time to get to know the communities, visiting them, praying with them, and collaborating with them to find a solution. Relationships are a key element of redemptive investing. Otherwise, everything is a number on a spreadsheet.
As we surrender, we partake in the joy of partnering with Christ who can do so much with what we surrender. Surrender leads to expansion of our comfort zone and a joyful stewardship journey.
An example. I have a good friend who leads a foundation in the USA. As a steward, he and his team decided to put the mission of creating an inclusive community at the centre of their portfolio. They are investing in businesses that hire victims of trafficking, build affordable housing to prevent homelessness, make loans to SMEs in emerging markets to create jobs, and develop renewable energy as climate risks disproportionately hurt the vulnerable. One particular quality I appreciate about my friend more than any other qualities, is his freedom from love of money. Because his identity is not rooted in money, he seemingly has exercised more creativity than most asset owners I’ve known to pursue the mission.
Can you be part of or imagine a community of courageous, risk-embracing, soul-loving investors who, through their commitments and actions, show the love this world has not yet seen?
Read the full blog here.
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