Faith vs. Fear
“Have the faith to be happy, healthy and in control of your life.” - AARP Advertisement
“The fundamental fact of existence is that this trust in God, this faith, is the firm foundation under everything that makes life worth living. It’s our handle on what we can’t see. The act of faith is what distinguished our ancestors, set them above the crowd.” Hebrews 11:1-2 The Message
I was on a website and came across this statement from AARP in an advertisement. No, they are not paying me to advertise for them. But they can just take this as a freebee from me. But I found it interesting in light of a conversation I had with a friend earlier today about faith vs. fear. Fear is the opposite of faith. And the majority of us, let’s face it, function from a place of fear, not faith. Even when it is disguised as being “responsible”. It’s really just our attempt to control the outcomes of our lives. And the more things we put in place to control the outcomes of our lives, the less we are demonstrating faith in this area.
Of course, I find this most evident in working with money and people. There is so much uncertainty when it comes to financial planning. Yet, it makes people feel more in control of their lives when they have a plan. Even though, that plan can be interrupted at any point in time by God’s plan, we feel better about our lives when we are taking steps to “take control” of our lives in some way. And admittedly, I wrestle with this. Especially when the title on my business card is “Senior Financial Planner”. How ironic. I should change it to “Senior Financial Guesser” because I have no idea if this stuff is going to go according to plan. I’m not God. And sometimes, we have to take steps that seem a little outrageous and irresponsible in demonstration of where our true faith lies. Not recklessly. But faithfully. And I know that is a fine line. Some people say they are living in faith, when actually they are just lazy and irresponsible. God only knows the difference.
Is it faith to purchase insurance? Is it faith to project out a retirement plan? Is it faith to have an emergency fund? Is it faith to prepare a will? I guess it depends. We have to start from a place of truth in order to plan anything in order for our plans to be created in faith. Because planning can also be faith. But only if it is not conceived in fear. I also know that fear is a great sales strategy. If I make you fearful of something happening, I might have exactly the right product to sell you to ease your fear. Then I have put you in position to make your purchase out of fear of the unknown. It’s exploitive. And I have done it. Forgive me. I was young.
So what is true? How do we create financial plans from truth and faith instead of lies and fear? Well, lets start with at least one truth: You are going to die. Your life is limited on this planet. There is nothing you can do about it. Not admitting it, won’t make it less true. Steven Covey (R.I.P.) said that one of the habits of highly effective people is to begin with the end in mind. On this planet (I’m not talking about eternity because you won’t need money there), your end is death. Let’s start there and work backwards. What would you have a desire to accomplish before you die? What is in your heart to do? You are closer to finding the truth of how to manage your money faithfully if you begin recognizing that you do not know how much time you have to live. Are you working in a job that represents your faith or your fear? Are you spending your time with people based on your faith or your fear? Are you hoarding your money based on faith or fear? What legacy do you want to leave?
How many passages of scripture actually deal with this issue of faith and fear? I can think of a few off the top of my head in the New Testament alone (Matthew 25, Hebrews 11, Romans 8). Have I ever even talked to God about this in my prayer time? The bible also says that, “Without faith, it is impossible to please God” Hebrews 11:6. So you have to start with faith to even get on God’s good side, so to speak. Without faith, the implications of this scripture is that God is not pleased. Because if we don’t have faith, we don’t know God. It takes faith to even be in relationship with God. To be able to trust and believe in what you cannot see takes faith. But it could also be fear. Maybe I am just afraid that there is a God, so I just say I believe, when I don’t. Or maybe, I just need a get-out-of-hell free card, so I do just enough to look like I am demonstrating faith, but it’s really fear. Only God knows. But God does know.
I know that my way of engaging clients has changed in the last few years, as God has forced me to come face to faith* with this truth. I had a lot of plans, but most of them were fear based and disguised as responsibility. Faith has more to do with what you are willing to let go of, not what you hold on to in your life. Maybe if we stop trying to control our lives, we will somehow start living. Wait, I think that’s a scripture, right? “Whoever tries to keep their life will lose it, and whoever loses their life will preserve it.”, said Jesus in Luke 17:33. Maybe he was onto something.
So I get why AARP would have an ad like that. They are going after the church crowd. Specifically the African-American church crown, who historically has not been great at things like financial planning and insurance protection. But I think they need to take out the control piece of the ad. Trying to gain control of your life is truthfully the opposite of faith. Here’s how I would re-write the ad: “Have the faith to trust God for all things. And buy insurance from us.” That’s probably closer to the truth in my most humble opinion.
· BTW- That was originally typo, but I thought it was more appropriate to leave it.