Why The Wall Street Journal Is Wrong About Socially Responsible Investing

Is Socially Responsible Investing For “Suckers”?

“The basic idea is to throw money away,” declares The Wall Street Journal today in reference to socially responsible investing (SRI). In their article titled “Stocks Weren’t Made For Social Climbing” author Andy Kessler and WSJ make the misguided assertion that anyone who invests with an eye toward corporate responsibility and making the world a better place is a “sucker”. In Kessler’s words,

“Wall Street considers it a truism that money sloshes around the globe seeking the highest return. But there are countless investors, believe it or not, who are willing to accept lower returns. P.T. Barnum supposedly said there’s a sucker born every minute. Many of them go into so-called socially responsible investing…In reality there is no trade-off of Vice vs. Nice. There are only returns.”

I am more than a little surprised at the ignorance of this article, but I suppose it is an opinion piece after all, and hey, everyone is entitled to an opinion…even me! So, here is my opinion then.

Socially Responsible Investing Performance Studies

While Kessler has an entertaining writing style and definitely knows how to turn a phrase, his entire premise is flawed. He makes the rather uninformed statement that responsible investing requires one to sacrifice performance, but he gives no basis for this conclusion.

The facts are that research done over the past several years by the likes of Oxford UniversityWharton University, Biola University and others show that responsible investing did not require a sacrifice of performance in their studies. In fact, some of these studies show that there was actually a slight improvement in performance for responsible investors compared to non-responsible investments.

According to Oxford University’s study with Arabesque Partners, “80 percent of the reviewed studies demonstrate that prudent sustainability practices have a positive influence on investment performance.”

Socially Responsible Investing For More Than Returns

That aside, Kessler has also made himself out to be a hypocrite or a criminal. He proudly asserts that returns are the only thing that matter when selecting an investment, that “there are only returns.” He most certainly doesn’t believe that…unless he is investing in illegal prostitution rings, arms dealers and drug cartels. They make a ton of money, but obviously (I hope) he would never consider investing in such a thing as it is 1) illegal and 2) completely immoral.

So, returns are not the only thing that matter. The law matters, too. And for Christians, God’s law matters even more than the law of man, so how could we possibly invest in companies that are in direct violation of God’s law, even if they did offer tantalizing promises of high returns? “Better is a little with righteousness than great gains with injustice.” (Proverbs 16:8)

Wall Street would goad us to give in to greed and chase high returns above all else. Sadly, there are many who fall prey to that siren’s call. “But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation, into a snare, into many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction.” (1 Timothy 6:9)

As for me, there is no return high enough to entice me to invest in immoral industries like abortion, pornography and human trafficking.

Wall Street can keep their profits-at-any-cost approach to investing; I will keep my integrity. And if Oxford University is right, I may end up keeping more money in the long run anyway.

How about you?

PS – You can read the entire Wall Street Journal article here. But your IQ may drop after doing so. Just saying.

Blessings,

-R


About the author:

Robert Netzly is the CEO of Inspire Investing, a social enterprise creating meaningful change in the lives of people all over the world by providing low cost, biblically responsible impact investments easily accessible on the NYSE. Follow Robert on Twitter and LinkedIn and get inspired!

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Does Your Conscience Have A Price? Biblically Responsible Investing In The Age Of High Return, Low Fee Idolatry.

You probably remember the 1993 movie “Indecent Proposal” even if you never saw it (which I hope is the case…bleh) because of it’s infamous plot line: a billionaire offers a young couple $1,000,000 for one night with the wife. Indecent proposal indeed. The plot is brilliant, even if the movie is not, because it touches a very human issue that we all are confronted with on a daily basis: Does your conscience have a price? In our modern day of finance, where Wall Street calls for high profits and low fees above all else, the Christian investor must seriously consider whether there is a return high enough, or fee low enough, that would entice them to abandon God’s call to biblically responsible investing.

Make good choices

Everyday, moment by moment, we are forced to choose between upholding good ethics and morals, or giving in to the temptations of our more base desires. Sometimes the decision to do the right thing may come almost effortlessly, like opening a door for an old woman, or choosing to pay for your candy bar instead of stealing it away in your pocket. But it wasn’t always that way, was it? There was a time in all our lives (hopefully when we were very young!) when the temptation of the forbidden candy bar held an irresistible allure and we really had to wrestle with ourselves to ensure that candy bar did not end up sneaking out of the store in our little larcenous pocket.

When we were a child, the price of our conscience may have been scant more than a candy bar. But now, as adults, does our conscience still have a price, albeit a much higher one? Put another way, is there some payoff high enough that would cause you to accept an “indecent proposal”? In our best moments, and only by the grace of God, our answer is no. There is no payment high enough, nor penalty great enough, that would cause me to sin against my God. But in our worst moments, the answer unfortunately is yes. And often the price is ridiculously low. The Apostle Paul embodies this struggle as he was led by the Holy Spirit to write,

For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out. 19 For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing…24 Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?25 Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! (Romans 7:18-19,24-25)

50 shades of neon

Today, the siren’s call to Christian investors is to join the world and chase high returns and lower fees no matter what. On one hand you have unscrupulous brokers promising sky-high returns with investments in the booming marijuana business, cryptocurrencies (aka. Bitcoin, et al), gold, silver and ocean front property in Arizona. These con jobs are usually pretty easy to spot, especially because the popup ads they use are about 50 different colors of neon and size 3,000 extra-super-bold font. As silly and ridiculous as these gigs are, there are many who fall prey to their allure of greed. I know because some have come seeking my advice after losing their shirts.

But what about other businesses, such as abortion and pornography? If you asked the average Christian investor if they would consider buying into the porn business, they would probably (hopefully!) say no. But, if you asked the average Christian investor if they would consider buying into the porn business for a 100% annual return on their money…well…

I submit to you that this scenario is playing out every single day with Christian investors around the world, except instead of 100% annual returns, Christians are selling out for much, much less. In fact, in some cases they are selling out for less than the price of a candy bar. Allow me to explain.

King Solomon talks biblically responsible investing

Let’s say you have $50,000 to invest. Where will you put it? Many investors, including Christian investors, will end up buying a mutual fund or ETF (exchange traded fund) of some sort. Maybe you would choose the highest performing actively managed fund you can find, or maybe you would focus on investing in the lowest cost index fund available. In either case, you would sensibly be trying to maximize your return (either through stellar investment management or by saving money on fees), but is that a biblical approach? Now, there is nothing wrong with investing in high performing funds, and certainly there is no problem with keeping fees low with index investing (I happen to be a fan), but for the Christian investor there are other — and I dare say more important — issues to consider, namely those of biblical morals.

Hear the words of Solomon, “Better is a little with righteousness than great gains with injustice.”(Proverbs 16:8) In this verse and others like it, the Bible’s clear teaching is that righteousness is more important than financial gain. Biblically responsible investing (BRI) is the practice of making biblical values the first priority in investment decisions as an obedient act of worship for the glory of God. This means aligning your investments with biblical values, avoiding companies involved in immoral businesses like abortion and pornography, and instead choosing investments in companies which are a blessing to their customers, communities, workforce and the world — and then taking into consideration maximizing returns and minimizing expenses within the context of the available, biblically responsible investment options.

The problem is that by and large, Christian investors have gotten this process backward. They heed the advice of Wall Street first and God second. (That is never a good idea, by the way.) They put first priority on finding the highest performing, lowest cost investments without giving thought to the moral concerns of those investments…or if they do consider biblical values it is only as an afterthought and results in a portfolio that might employ a few screens, such as tobacco or alcohol, but falls far short of the standard of diligently stewarding God’s assets in accordance with his values for His glory. We have caved into the demand of this age that we fulfill our “fiduciary duty” to keep fees as low as possible and returns as high as possible, and abandoned our first and eternally more important “stewardship duty” to “honor God with your wealth.”(Proverbs 3:9) We have been “conformed to the pattern of this world”(Romans 12:2) and are bowing down to the idols of low fees and high returns.

And, by the way, just because you put biblical values first does not mean that you must sacrifice returns. Recent research by Wharton School of Business, Oxford University and Biola University all have concluded that employing values based screening like biblically responsible investing does not negatively affect performance…in fact, they find that screening actually can help improve performance. Some critics say biblically responsible investing advocates use the Bible as an excuse for charging higher fees or being lazy about choosing quality investments. I disagree. I think those critics use low fees and the ever-elusive seduction of higher returns as an excuse for their financial idolatry.

Now what about that candy bar?

To make matters worse, the price we have accepted in this compromise of financial idolatry is often pathetically small. Going back to that $50,000 investment you have to make, let’s say that you chose to invest in a very low cost fund that had a total expense ratio of 0.10%. And let’s say that there was an equivalent, biblically responsible investing fund with an expense ratio of 1.00%. That means that you chose to prioritize lower fees above biblical values for a total savings of 0.90% per year. Putting that into dollars, that means that you decided to invest in abortion, pornography, human trafficking and other immoral industries instead of honoring God first for a total annual savings of $450/year ($50,000 x 0.009 = $450). That is just $1.23 per day…the price of a cheap candy bar.

But, you might say, what if I have much more than $50,000 to invest? My savings would be higher than just a candy bar! Yes, this is true. If you have more than $50,000 to invest then your nominal savings goes up some, so maybe your price to sell out on God is a latte per day instead of a candy bar. Or maybe you have millions of dollars to invest and your savings would be measured in thousands of dollars. Maybe you have so much money that your savings would be, oh, let’s say an even $1,000,000. Is that a high enough price for you to accept the “indecent proposal” of Wall Street billionaires?

Wall Street would applaud your “wisdom” as a “good fiduciary”. The Bible would call that idolatry.

Grace, truth and biblically responsible investing

Now, let me be the first to confess that I invested as an idolater for years, never realizing that I was investing in and profiting from the vilest sin and immorality the depraved human mind can conjure. And I want you to know that I have a lot of grace for those still investing the way of the world, because I know that most Christian investors are just like I was, unwittingly investing in atrocities because they have never been taught to think biblically about their investments. And this is exactly what needs to change.

We need to heed the call in Romans 12:2, “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” We need to extend grace to our brothers and sisters who are caught up in the world’s ways, and at the same time we need to understand that ignorance is not an excuse. In the words of the Apostle Paul, we need to:

“…equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, 13 until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, 14 so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes. 15 Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ,16 from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.”(Ephesians 4:12-16)

And it starts with you. It starts with looking in the mirror of God’s perfect word, submitting to the call to “do all to the glory of God” (1 Corinthians 10:31), including managing your investments, and then making the change to become a biblically responsible investor who puts righteousness and biblical morals in higher preference than fees and performance. And it continues by you doing your part to “equip the saints for the work of ministry” and sharing what you have learned about the importance of being obedient to God with your investment decisions with the other Christians in your life. Will you join us?

Beloved Christian, Wall Street is beckoning you to invest in immoral industries with the ephemeral allure of higher profits and lower fees. What is your answer to Wall Street’s “indecent proposal”?

Blessings,

-R


About the author:

Robert Netzly is the CEO of Inspire Investing, a social enterprise creating meaningful change in the lives of people all over the world by providing low cost, biblically responsible investments easily accessible on the NYSE. Follow Robert on Twitter and LinkedIn and get inspired!

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Do Not Desire To Be Rich

“But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation, into a snare, into many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction.” (1 Timothy 6:9)

How easy it is to desire to be rich. We certainly do not desire to be poor, do we? But here in the scriptures Paul issues a sobering warning to Timothy that those who desire to be rich run afoul with all sorts of disaster. I don’t know about you, but this causes me to pause and examine my heart because “ruin and destruction” are certainly not part of my long term financial goals.

But is wanting to be rich really against biblical teaching? Yes, yes it is. Consider that just a few verses later Paul exhorts Timothy (and all Christians, including you and me) saying, “But as for you, O man of God, flee these things.” (1 Timothy 6:11). God does not want His children chasing after riches any more than a mother wants her child to chase a ball across a busy street. It is not that the object being chased is necessarily wrong, but that the chase will absolutely end in ruin. Take note that Paul is not warning against riches, but rather the desire to be rich.

But isn’t the desire to be rich what drives our entire economic and investment system? Yes, yes it is. This is a problem because it is quite apparent by even the most cursory survey of the culture around us that most people desire to be rich, which means that they are careening headfirst into “many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction”. They are chasing their ball across the autobahn and the resulting carnage is all around us: Broken marriages, corrupt businesses, exploitation of the poor, families left destitute by dad’s (or mom’s) excessive risk taking.

And Christians are just as guilty as everyone else. In fact, many popular “prosperity gospel” preachers actually teach their adherents that they should desire to be rich, and that they should petition God loudly and persistently for material wealth, and that riches are a sign of strong faith. This is pure theological sewage and if someone is trying to feed it to you run away as fast as possible. The prosperity “gospel” is not the gospel at all. It is exactly what Paul describes in our text, a “temptation, a snare” that “plunge people into ruin and destruction”. Flee from it.

And even if you and I are not drinking from the sewer water that so many prosperity preachers are serving up, it is still far too easy in our culture to desire to be rich without even realizing it. How many times have I desired a bigger house, nicer car, expensive clothes, bigger income, lavish vacations, high-performing investments? Or in other words, how often do I desire to be rich? And don’t we see the damage even these “normal” American desires can be? We are tempted to buy as much house as we can qualify for, the nicest car we can finance and the largest credit limit we can get approved for. The result is often disastrous. Lost house. Lost car. Mountains of debt. Ruined life. The desire to be rich is insidious.

So, what are we to do? Thankfully Paul does not leave us hanging, but continues, “As for the rich in this present age, charge them not to be haughty, nor to set their hopes on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly provides us with everything to enjoy. They are to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share, thus storing up treasure for themselves as a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of that which is truly life.” (1 Timothy 6:17-19)

Ruin and destruction? No thanks. Kill the desire to be rich.

Everything to enjoy? Count me in.

Set your hopes on God. Be rich in good works. Share. Store up eternal treasure in heaven. Take hold of that which is truly life. God help us.

Blessings,

-R


About the author:

Robert Netzly is the CEO of Inspire Investing, a social enterprise creating meaningful change in the lives of people all over the world by providing low cost, biblically responsible impact investments easily accessible on the NYSE. Follow Robert on Twitter and LinkedIn and get inspired!

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Reflections On My First Wall Street Journal Article

It is a strange thing to see your picture in the Wall Street Journal for the first time. It makes you realize how normal the other people you see in the media are, because you know yourself and yourself is nothing special. Also strange is reading an article in the Wall Street Journal that “you wrote”, wondering what it is going to say because you did not actually write it, even though the WSJ makes it seem that you did. So, now that I have actually gotten to read “my” article and seen what I have to say, I have a few thoughts to share as well as some lessons learned. (PS – you can read the Wall Street Journal article here.)

1) I am humbled and thankful that The Wall Street Journal would choose to publish a story about me and my experience with biblically responsible investing.  I really am nothing special, but I serve a God who is awesome beyond compare. If there is anything good or praiseworthy in my life and work, it is only by the grace of God and to his glory. “For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen.” (Romans 11:36) If anyone tries to make a big deal out of me, they are sadly mistaken. Make a big deal about my God. He alone is worthy.

2) I wish The Wall Street Journal would have chosen a different title for the article. The one they chose, “Biblically Responsible Investing: A Lucrative Niche For Advisors”, strongly implies that the reason to pursue biblically responsible investing is because it is a “lucrative niche”. While it may be true that it can be lucrative, that most emphatically is NOT the reason any advisor or investor should practice biblically responsible investing. The only reason Christians should practice biblically responsible investing is because scripture clearly teaches to glorify God in everything that you do. “So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” (1 Corinthians 10:31) If we are commanded to eat and drink in a manner that brings glory to God, surely we must do all we can to invest His money according to His values for His glory — regardless of the “lucrativity” of the outcome. In fact, scripture goes so far as to say that even if it means making less money that we should pursue righteousness in our financial dealings anyway, “Better is a little with righteousness than great revenues with injustice.” (Proverbs 16:8) That is a hard pill to swallow in our flesh, but is a very revealing truth that exposes our hearts for what they are. Would you invest for God’s glory even if it meant you made less money on your investments?

3) It is happening. The biblically responsible investing revolution is really happening. The fact that The Wall Street Journal would write a major piece highlighting biblically responsible investing in a positive light is quite staggering. The time is coming when biblically responsible investing is correctly understood and practiced as a vital component of biblical stewardship throughout the church, just like giving, proper debt management, and other commonly taught biblical financial practices. More investors are investing according to biblical values today than ever before in the history of the world, and the numbers are growing. God is on the move. (As always.)

4) I don’t think I will be letting any reporters write stories for me without any editorial control again. Except for the aforementioned “lucrative” issue, the article came out pretty decent. But it could have been a total train wreck.

Above all else, what this particular experience has made clear to me is the great divide between the perspective of the world, which looks at the motivation behind serving God through the lens of being “lucrative” or other worldly measures of success, contrasted with the Christian’s great joy and preeminent desire to glorify God in all we do, regardless of the outcome. We serve God for He is worthy, not for what He is worth. Is that true for you?

Blessings,

-R


About the author:

Robert Netzly is the CEO of Inspire Investing, a social enterprise creating meaningful change in the lives of people all over the world by providing low cost, biblically responsible impact investments easily accessible on the NYSE. Follow Robert on Twitter and LinkedIn and get inspired!

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THE CRISIS OF INFLUENCE

Esther did not intend to be queen. It was not listed in her 10 year strategic vision. But she found herself in a place of influence during a time of crisis for her people, God’s people, and she was called upon by her people to take action. She was called upon to use the influence that God had given her to be a blessing, even a means of salvation. But exercising this influence would come at a great cost to Esther – namely the risk of her very life. As Esther spoke, “All the king’s servants and the people of the king’s provinces know that if any man or woman goes to the king inside the inner court without being called, there is but one law—to be put to death, except the one to whom the king holds out the golden scepter so that he may live.” (Esther 4:11)

What influence has God given you? When crisis comes, and it will come, and you are called upon to exercise that influence for God’s glory, will you be ready and willing to do so – despite the deep personal cost that undoubtedly will come with it? Step forward with boldness! Pray and fast and entrust yourself to the Lord as Esther did! “Then Esther told them to reply to Mordecai, “Go, gather all the Jews to be found in Susa, and hold a fast on my behalf, and do not eat or drink for three days, night or day. I and my young women will also fast as you do. Then I will go to the king, though it is against the law, and if I perish, I perish.” (Esther 4:15,16)

There is no better place for a person than in the will of God, and there is no better step than the step of faith. Though the specters of fear and death crowd close around you, if you will press through in faith you will find yourself safe in God’s mighty hand. Linger in doubt and your fears may just come to pass. As Esther was told, “Do not think to yourself that in the king’s palace you will escape any more than all the other Jews. For if you keep silent at this time, relief and deliverance will rise for the Jews from another place, but you and your father’s house will perish. And who knows whether you have not come to the kingdom for such a time as this?” (Esther 4:13,14)

Press in to God. Use your influence for His glory. Enter the throne room in faith and do not be afraid. God is with you.

-R


About the author:

Robert Netzly is the CEO of Inspire Investing, a social enterprise creating meaningful change in the lives of people all over the world by providing low cost, biblically responsible impact investments easily accessible on the NYSE. Follow Robert on Twitter and LinkedIn and get inspired!

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Christians, Dirty Money & Financial Revival

I had no idea that I was making money from abortions. I also had no idea I was making money on the sale of pornography. But every time someone used an abortion drug or bought an X-rated movie from Amazon or their TV provider like AT&T, Verizon, Dish Network and DirectTV, I was making a cut of that profit. With God’s money.

I was just like hundreds of millions of other Christians in this world who have the wool pulled over their eyes by the great Babylon of Wall St. For some reason, it had never occurred to me that the companies that I owned in my mutual funds, ETFs and stock and bond portfolios were the very same companies that were manufacturing, selling and promoting the vilest products of immorality and unholiness that the depraved human mind can conjure. But there it was plain as day, the truth that I was ignorantly profiting from the nails in my Savior’s hands, the thorns on His glorious brow and the spear through His broken heart.

And most likely, so are you.

Take for example the most heavily traded index fund in the world, the SPDR S&P 500 ETF (ticker: SPY). This fund has $237.26 billion dollars in assets and trades an astonishing 18 million shares, or roughly $4.3 billion, per hour. Chances are that you are invested in this fund, or some other fund like it from Vanguard, iShares, American Funds or other company. The chart below shows the information that changed my life forever, and details exactly what owners of these funds are profiting from.

The question is, do you care?

Believe me, I know this is a difficult question to answer because the ramifications of “yes” mean a complete and total departure from the so-called financial wisdom of this world. My personal “yes” cost me all the financial security this world has to offer. And yes, I have also heard the attempts by some to sidestep this issue by saying that buying stock in the secondary market (as is done on the stock exchange, mutual funds, etc) does not actually support the company or give them any money. But they miss the point completely. The issue is not about some kind of financial boycott to withhold our money from “evil companies”, the issue is the unavoidable truth that as an owner of that stock, you and I are profiting from the most grievous of sins. Instead of “take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them” (Ephesians 5:11), we are pocketing the cash in the name of the Lord.

Hear the merciful appeal of God in His holy word, “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind…” (Romans 12:2). Set aside for a moment the questions and doubts of how to invest in a way that is not “conformed to this world”, and instead ask God to give you the faith to trust Him, to believe that His ways are better than our ways, whatever they may be. Ask your Lord to give you ears deaf to the commentators of this age who point fingers at you and yell “Fool! Bigot! Intolerant!”, but attentive to the voice from heaven that calls, “Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.” (Matthew 25:21)

Pray for personal, spiritual, financial revival.

-R


About the author:

Robert Netzly is the CEO of Inspire Investing, a social enterprise creating meaningful change in the lives of people all over the world by providing low cost, biblically responsible impact investments easily accessible on the NYSE. Follow Robert on Twitter and LinkedIn and get inspired!

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Overcoming Fear

Everything involves risk.  Especially things that matter.

When faced with the risk of failure and loss, fear is a natural emotion, but fear must be overcome. The popular “self-help” style of overcoming fear is to assume a false confidence that “everything will work out”, channeling Polly Anna with her rose-colored glasses, and resolutely ignoring the risk of failure. However, downplaying or ignoring the risk is not really overcoming fear, it is just a game of make-believe. Deep down you still know the risk is there and it gnaws at the back of your mind. You are still a prisoner of the specter of failure, you just have your eyes closed. Truly overcoming fear requires you to not ignore the risk, but rather to embrace the very real consequences of failure.

You might not succeed. You might fail. You could lose everything. That’s a real possibility.

Then there is just one question that you need to answer:  Is your calling worth the risk?

If you failed, miserably failed, and your worst nightmares came true, would it still have been worth it?  Do you believe in your cause enough to damn the torpedoes, step into the fire, do your best and leave the results to God, whatever they may be?  If the answer is no, then you don’t have the conviction you will need to succeed.  Even successful endeavors spend some time on the brink of failure, staring wide eyed into the open jaws of defeat and despair.  Without the steel and grit of the unshakable conviction that you must triumph, that your work is too great to back down from, you will come upon those dark and fearful times and perish, being swallowed up by dismay.  If your fear is greater than your conviction, you will eventually fail.  If your conviction is greater than your fear, then fear will never stop you, and even though you might give out, you will never give up.

Embrace the possibility of magnificent failure, trust God, and walk in victory over your fears.

-R


About the author:

Robert Netzly is the CEO of Inspire Investing, a social enterprise creating meaningful change in the lives of people all over the world by providing low cost, biblically responsible impact investments easily accessible on the NYSE. Follow Robert on Twitter and LinkedIn and get inspired!

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Bible Values Create Raving Fans

Every (smart) business wants to deliver “wow experiences” that not only satisfy customers and employees, but turn them into raving fans.  Satisfied customers are happy, they don’t complain and probably will be loyal.  Raving fans, on the other hand, are more than happy, they are delighted; beyond not complaining, they sing your praises; and on top of their loyalty, they bring all their friends with them.  This is what separates a successful business from a ridiculously successful business.

But despite the many books and blogs, conferences and coaches that offer opinions on this topic, this holy grail still eludes the grasp of most companies.  Why?  Perhaps because the most effective solution is not found in organizational leadership, but spiritual leadership.  What we need is the fruit of the Spirit.

Love

Jesus famously taught his followers to “love your neighbor as yourself“, and also to “do unto others as you would have them do unto you“.  What if your customers did not just feel appreciated, but loved?  What if employers did not just value their employees, but loved them?  That would be something to rave about.  When was the last time you felt loved as a customer or employee?

Joy

I remember walking into a certain ice cream shop one day where I got what I asked for, service was quick, and the ice cream tasted great, but leaving the business the one thing that I found myself thinking about is how much those employees obviously did not want to be there.  If someone had given me a survey I would probably say I was satisfied, and I would probably go there again, but I certainly was not a raving fan.  Why?  The place lacked joy.

Peace

Have you ever worked where people just don’t get along?  Maybe there is back-biting gossip.  Maybe there is outright arguing and name calling.  Maybe there is just an acrid fog of unspoken ill-will permeating the halls and cubicles.  Nobody likes to work in a place like that, and customers don’t like doing business with an organization like that.  Seek peace and pursue it, and not counterfeit peace that is just surface deep, but real conflict resolution and unity, despite disagreements.

Patience

The two hardest people to deal with in business are customers and employees.  Hey, I’m just saying it like it is.  But, difficult people and situations also offer the best opportunity to create raving fans.  When an agitated person vents all of their frustration and anger on you, and you reply with patience and composure, that makes an impact like nothing else can.  And not just on the person with whom you are dealing with, but also with everyone in the audience.  And in business, you always have an audience.

Kindness

I love World Help.  We support their life-changing ministry as a company and also as a family.  Every year we attend their Global Impact Summit to hear first hand about the impact we are having with our support and how we can get even more involved, and every year I am blown away by the kindness of World Help’s people.  Simple yet powerful acts of kindness, like handwritten thank you notes at our dinner table and hotel room, arranging for first-class child care for us families with littles, always seeking us out with a kind smile and genuine “thank you for being here”, all of these endear me more and more to World Help as a supporter and raving fan.

Goodness

Most businesses try to be ethical, but ethical is a pathetic benchmark of goodness.  An ethical business is a business that does not do bad things, but inspiring business don’t just avoid bad, they do good.  Business is an incredible mechanism for creating positive impact in the lives of people all over the world.  Ken Blanchard, the pre-eminent leadership expert and author of the books “Raving Fans” and “One Minute Manager“, says it this way, “We need a new leadership model that focuses not only on goal accomplishment, but also on the greater good.”

If your business is a force for good in the world, that is something worth raving about.

Faithfulness

Don’t stab people in the back.  Follow through on your promises.  Say what you do, and then do what you say.  Do you want faithful customers and employees?  Then be faithful to them.

Gentleness

Domineering boss?  Pushy salesman?  Not rave worthy.  Empathetic employer?  Service over sales?  Now you’re talking, and so are your customers.

Self-control

Delivering an experience worth talking about takes self-control.  It takes doing the hard thing because it is the right thing.  Creating wow does not happen impulsively, but takes preparation and intentionality.  And it certainly takes self-control to live out all the traits mentioned above.

Conclusion

Now, here’s the catch:  It isn’t so easy to live out these principles, and even harder still to train an entire organization to live out these principles on a daily basis.  These values do not come naturally to us — certainly not to me!  The Bible calls them the “fruit of the Spirit” for a reason.  These are traits that can only be ours by the grace of God.  Do you want these values to be yours?  Skip the conference.  Pray for revival.

-R


About the author:

Robert Netzly is the CEO of Inspire Investing, a social enterprise creating meaningful change in the lives of people all over the world by providing low cost, biblically responsible impact investments easily accessible on the NYSE. Follow Robert on Twitter and LinkedIn and get inspired!

Image result for twitter logo Twitter.com/robertnetzly
Image result for linkedin logo LinkedIn: @Robert_Netzly

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Good Christians Are Fools

As a Christian in business, and in life, wisdom requires you to be a fool.  You will be called on by Wisdom to make decisions that seem folly to bystanders.  Onlookers will mock you at best and do their best to destroy you at worst.  They will not understand, accept or even tolerate your path, but you will be anchored by the irrefutable conviction that your decision is right.  Because beyond the current affairs of the day, the opinions of the age, and even the temporal success of your endeavor, above all is the timeless and eternal wisdom of God revealed in the Bible.  “We have this as a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul…” (Hebrews 6:19).

I can only speak from my own experiences, and I boast in nothing save Jesus Christ alone who is my only glory and sure foundation.  Such experiences as when I was compelled to leave the safety and security of my position at Wells Fargo, being compelled by the Spirit to start a company dedicated to biblically responsible investing (BRI), with no income, no savings and no clue what I was doing.  People questioned my judgement and whispered about the likelihood of my failure.

And when I steadfastly built that business by God’s grace, offering only biblically responsible investments, ready to refuse potential revenue under the conviction of scripture that “whatever you do, whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God” (1 Corinthians 10:31), many chided my foolishness that I would fail with such a narrow-minded focus, and yet God brought me more investors than I could handle, and also brought me advisor partners who shared my conviction to expand the scale of our growing firm.

Industry experts warned, and even scolded, that my insistence on diligent, biblical screening which filtered out hot-button issues such as LGBT activism and corporate giving to Planned Parenthood was just too radical, unnecessary and intolerant.  But how could I in good conscience profit from and recommend such things when scripture’s clarion call to “take no part in the unfruitful deeds of darkness, but instead expose them” (Ephesians 5:11) resonated so in my soul?

And when God laid on my heart the necessity to bring biblically responsible investing to the world by launching Inspire, the world was incredulous, and even a bit outraged, that we would manage investments aligned with conservative, biblical values instead of conforming to “the pattern of the world”.  The media skewered us for our “intolerance“.  Financial experts scoffed “thou shalt not buy biblically responsible [investments]” claiming we would never be able to achieve good performance because of our “limited” investment universe of companies aligned with biblical values. Liberal activists proclaimed that we would never attract investor capital because our “approach is squarely at odds with that of nearly all of corporate America“.

And these same pundits scratched their heads when Inspire attracted massive capital, grew assets by 131% and was named among the nation’s fastest growing investment firms in the Financial Advisor Magazine 2017 RIA Ranking, with all glory to God because by worldly standards these authorities should have been right, save for one glaring omission in their reasoning which makes all the difference: God is sovereign.  And even if God had seen fit to allow me to fail in the world’s economy, I would still be a success in God’s economy, which is the only market that really matters after all.

So, when you are faced with a mocking crowd and find your convictions at odds with popular opinion, stand firm in the wisdom of God expressed in the Holy Bible.  Stand upon the firm foundation, which is Jesus Christ our Lord, “for the wisdom of this world is folly with God.” (1 Corinthians 3:19).

“Blessed is the man
    who walks not in the counsel of the wicked,
nor stands in the way of sinners,
    nor sits in the seat of scoffers;
but his delight is in the law of the Lord,
    and on his law he meditates day and night.

He is like a tree
    planted by streams of water
that yields its fruit in its season,
    and its leaf does not wither.
In all that he does, he prospers.
The wicked are not so,
    but are like chaff that the wind drives away.

Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment,
    nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous;
for the Lord knows the way of the righteous,
    but the way of the wicked will perish.” (Psalm 1)

Blessings,

-R


About the author:

Robert Netzly is the CEO of Inspire Investing, a social enterprise creating meaningful change in the lives of people all over the world by providing low cost, biblically responsible investments. Follow Robert on Twitter and LinkedIn and get inspired!

Image result for twitter logo Twitter.com/robertnetzly
Image result for linkedin logo LinkedIn: @Robert_Netzly