An investment advisor prays about the stock market
I knew I needed to gain spiritual clarity and not react out of fear.
Originally published for the Christian Science Sentinel online on November 10, 2022
A recent experience proved to me that relying on God’s direction helps us make difficult decisions, while also teaching us valuable lessons.
I was scheduled to fly to Cape Hatteras for a week of kite surfing with friends. The day before the trip, I felt uneasy and wasn’t sure if I should go, even though I’d booked everything and paid far in advance. I dismissed this as nerves and proceeded to the airport the next morning. While there, I continued to pray and listen for the right direction as I went through security and waited at my gate. My flight was delayed because of weather, so I worked while waiting.
I work in investments, and we usually have morning video conference meetings with the investment team. The stock market opened halfway through our meeting and started crashing. Normally this wouldn’t bother me, since I have a solid long-term strategy, but as our meetings went on, my colleagues and I started to become fearful.
I was reminded of Christ Jesus’ Golden Rule.
Soon, it felt as if I were scrambling. I was trying to figure out if I needed to make adjustments for my clients, while also taking calls from colleagues, clients, and family members, so I reached out to a Christian Science practitioner for prayer. The market appeared to be in free fall, and everything on my screen was red, which meant that many people were panicking and selling stocks. I was under a lot of pressure and had started to feel that I should cancel my vacation and go home and continue to work. I wanted to do what was right, and to do that I knew I needed to gain spiritual clarity and not react out of fear.
Over the course of several hours, working with the practitioner to listen for God’s guidance, I realized that there were some investment changes that I needed to make that were time sensitive. I started to grasp that my actions had involved a certain amount of pride: I had gone over my original margin limits, taking advantage of lower interest rates to borrow money and buy more stocks, and thinking that I would not be affected by a sudden market crash.
I had not been staying true to my investment values (three of which are patience, humility, and honesty) and had exceeded some of the rules and limits I had set. Furthermore, I was giving too much weight to my own professional knowledge and expertise, forgetting that there is only one Mind, God.
Regarding whether I should continue with the kite surfing trip or go home and work, the practitioner reminded me of Christ Jesus’ Golden Rule, “Do unto others as you would have others do unto you” (Luke 6:31, Modern English Version) and Mary Baker Eddy’s By-Law “Alertness to Duty” in the Manual of The Mother Church, which says, “It shall be the duty of every member of this Church to defend himself daily against aggressive mental suggestion, and not be made to forget nor to neglect his duty to God, to his Leader, and to mankind” (p. 42). I reasoned that if I were my client, I would expect my financial advisor to not succumb to the temptation to go on vacation during a market crash and to instead be fully available if changes needed to be made. More important than my work or going on a trip with friends was my duty to God, “investing” in getting to know God more and listening for Mind’s guidance.
When it became clear that I had to make some changes, I knew what I needed to do that week. A step-by-step plan started forming. I felt an amazing clarity, calm, and joy. The stress started to melt away.
This experience deepened my faith and taught me how important it is to be obedient to God.
Then came the gate announcement that my plane was boarding after almost six hours of delays. I laughed and was tempted to board the flight! I quickly prayed and asked God whether I should go on the trip or not. The answer came through a text message from the practitioner that perfectly illustrated the Golden Rule to me in a humorous way.
I’d already discerned what the right thing to do was, which was to go home and execute the investment plan that had clearly come to thought, but that text message really helped to pierce any remaining mental fog and the temptation to continue on the trip.
I quickly canceled my flight and went home to work late into the night on the plan that I would execute the next morning when the market opened.
The stock market continued to crash for the rest of the week, and there were moments when the stress on me seemed insurmountable. But I was comforted by that week’s Bible Lesson from the Christian Science Quarterly, which included the story of Saul’s conversion on the road to Damascus. At times, I too felt “blind,” not knowing what to do and wishing for the “scales” to fall off my eyes, as Saul experienced. The practitioner I’d been working with pointed me to a Bible reference in which “scales” represent “pride” (Job 41:15, 16). I was again reminded that although pride had gotten me into this situation, I am God’s creation and reflect only His qualities, so pride wasn’t truly part of me. I also needed to trust God completely and yield to one Mind. The more I trusted God to guide each investment decision, the clearer the path forward became.
Each time I followed Mind’s direction that week, the stress would go away. I was sustained in those moments by the energy of divine Spirit and able to pull very long hours. By the end of the week, I felt confident about the steps I had taken, and was recommitted to my values and rules going forward.
I’m still learning how to listen for the “still small voice” of Truth, God, (I Kings 19:12) and follow the one Mind. I still experience stress and indecision at times and know I have a lot more to learn. But this experience deepened my faith in following spiritual intuition and taught me both how important it is to be obedient to God, divine Love, and how to listen for Love’s guidance. A verse from the Bible’s book of James illustrates this perfectly: “The wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be entreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy” (3:17).
Letting go of something fun like that kite surfing trip had seemed hard, but the joy and peace that came from following God’s direction was a much better return on investment.