I worked as a financial advisor for the first decade of my life after college, guiding clients to optimize what they owned. It was a good job and my life looked pretty perfect. I was a member of the right country club, the right church, with the right circle of friends, and a growing family. With all of these “right” choices, I didn’t have major fears to face or courage to find.
Then there was a jolt to my “perfect” reality: With the stroke of a pen and a judge’s decree, I was suddenly single.
Although my professional role was to advise others to grow what they had, I really had no idea what I had. Real estate holdings and bank accounts existed I knew nothing about.
I struggled with shame because I hadn’t been the faithful steward I should have and could have been. I was overwhelmed, wondering if I really could make it on my own. Friends kept telling me to do nothing until I felt peace. In my heart, however, I knew I needed courage to take a hard look at the situation and wisdom to discern the plan—and my purpose—going forward.
Seeking courage, finding grace
I began looking for courage. Plato called courage “the endurance of the soul.” Others have written that true courage is the power to face fear and respond with confidence to act in accordance with your beliefs. I knew my fears would need to be faced and conquered.
In this new reality, I realized that I would have to take a pass on perfection and release my vision for how things “should” have looked. Letting go opened my heart to experience gratitude for what I did have.
I remember so vividly the moment I realized that my failure didn’t disqualify me from receiving God’s grace; rather it made me a prime candidate. The years of self-criticism melted away as I accepted my reality and felt God’s grace cover it. This was the turning point in finding courage to embark on a plan forward. Receiving the gift of grace gave me courage and helped me discover my purpose.
Pursuing purpose and a plan
My first step was to get a handle on all I owned and owed. For months I felt like Sherlock Holmes, following the trail to discover what was in my name, what was not, and how to make sense of everything. It wasn’t that things had been intentionally hidden. We had done what most couples do, divide and conquer: I paid the bills and managed the practical side of household life and my spouse bought and sold our larger assets. But I hadn’t stayed in the conversation. I didn’t ask questions. I wasn’t really interested.
Now with 15 years behind me, I can say I’m grateful for the courage to truly understand what God has entrusted to me.
This is my why, my purpose: I am passionate about everyone being equipped to “know what they have” and make a plan for how God would have them optimize it.
Regardless of what our previous years of stewardship have looked like, God offers each of us a pass on perfection and His courage to embark on a plan forward.
Perhaps your courageous next step is to get an idea of what you have. Perhaps it is to attend the next financial advisor meeting and ask questions. Or maybe it’s time to pull out your personal balance sheet and commit it all to be optimized for God’s purposes.
Learn more about purposefully planning your finances with these foundational biblical principles.