At Sound Mind Investing, we talk a lot about managing your portfolio. By that, of course, we mean your investment accounts.
But there’s another portfolio that’s important for you to manage as well. In fact, if you don’t manage this one well, there’s no point focusing on your finances. What is this portfolio? Let’s call it the “portfolio of you.”
The assets of life
God created each of us to be multi-dimensional, and three of the most important dimensions — or “personal asset classes,” if you will — are: spiritual, physical, and relational. Unlike an investment portfolio where you may move in and out of an entire financial asset class from time to time, depending on market conditions, in the portfolio of you, each personal asset class is always in play. And these are not “set-it-and-forget-it” asset classes; they require active management.
As we take a closer look at each asset class in the portfolio of you, take time to assess its current strength, the biggest threat to its continued growth, and at least one action step you could take to further strengthen it in the year ahead.
Of the three, spiritual health is our most important personal asset class. When Jesus was asked what matters most in life, he said, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind” (Matthew 22:37). Everything flows from our relationship with Christ.
So how is your relationship with Jesus? What’s your first, instinctive answer? Is this relationship thriving and growing? Or is it stagnant, perhaps on autopilot?
When I thought about this a few months ago, I had to acknowledge that my faith journey seemed to have hit a plateau. I serve actively in our church and am involved in a couple of small groups, but it’s become relatively comfortable. I didn’t feel like I was being stretched or growing as much as I wanted to. So, when I heard about a rigorous new study that was going to be led by a pastor I greatly admire, I signed up. And it’s been everything I hoped it would be. It’s challenging me to go deeper in my understanding of God’s Word and to see new ways of applying that understanding.
What about you? What’s the biggest threat you sense here? The Bible cautions: “Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour” (1 Peter 5:8). The evil one can attack us with seeds of doubt, discouragement, and the many distractions of a busy life. Spiritually speaking, where are you weakest, most vulnerable? Is it in your knowledge of the Word, or perhaps a lack of time spent with Jesus in prayer?
What’s one step you could take to grow in your relationship with Christ this year?
The second most important personal asset class is our physical health. This has to do with exercise and healthy eating, and also with rest and stress management.
The Bible says, “Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies“ (1 Corinthians 6:19-20).
How are you doing with this one? Do you even really know? Are you overdue for a physical? What would you say is the biggest threat to your health? Are you consuming too much sugar? Too many highly processed foods? Are you getting too little exercise? Think of daily habits. What do you routinely have for breakfast? What do you do each night after dinner?
What one step could you take this year to take better care of yourself?
Who’s on the short list of people who matter to you most of all? If you’re married and have kids, the first answers will be obvious. What about other relatives or close friends?
Jesus said, “By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another” (John 13:35).
How well are you loving the most important people in your life? What would they say? What are the biggest threats to those relationships? What are some concrete steps you could take this year to make them stronger? Are you regularly carving out time for just you and your spouse? When’s the last time you took each of your kids out to breakfast for some one-on-one time?
While he never held himself out as a role model for anything other than playing exceptional golf, I still remember how shocked I was at Tiger Woods’ fall. As a golf fan, I marveled at his seemingly superhuman abilities on the golf course. How could his personal life be in such disarray? Wasn’t there anyone in his life asking him tough questions and challenging what he was doing with his free time? Do you have an accountability partner like that in your life?
At the risk of getting too personal, there are many men — yes, Christian men — whose relationships with Jesus and their spouse would benefit by subjecting themselves to online accountability via a program such as Covenant Eyes.
Being and doing
If all of this sounds like a burden, as if you needed one or two more things to add to your lengthy to-do list, let me encourage you with an idea I remember from a New Year’s message Christian author Lee Strobel gave years ago. He suggested thinking of the year ahead not so much in terms of what we’re going to do, but in terms of who we are.
Similarly, in Chip and Dan Heath’s book Switch, the authors talk about the role of identity in guiding behavior, using the example of a chemistry professor:
Imagine...you had a lucrative opportunity to consult on the toxicity study of a new drug for a big pharmaceutical company. From a consequences point of view, the decision to accept the job would be a no-brainer — the work might pay far more than your university salary. But from an identity point of view, the decision to accept the job would seem less clear-cut. You’d wonder what strings were attached, what subtle compromises you’d have to make to please the client. You’d wonder, “What would a scientist like me do in this situation?”
When it comes to being and doing, the “doing” side of life tends to get most of our attention. And yet all that doing is easier if we consider who we are first and then let what we do flow naturally out of that identity. Before making your to-do list for the new year, perhaps it would be helpful to remember who you are.
Most of all, you’re a child of God (1 John 3:1). So, a good question to ask yourself is: What would a child of God like me do this year to nurture my relationship with Christ, take good care of my physical health, and love well the people in my life?
*Image used with permission. *