The chief manager of a Nashville investment advisory firm says that Christians should have the right perspective about their assets as they face the prospect of a meltdown in the U.S. economy.
Charlton Lentz works for Provident Group, which combines business, legal and financial services under one roof and quotes 1800s preacher Charles Spurgeon and theologian A.W. Pink on its founder’s blog.
In a chat after relating his life story as a Christian at a Christian Business Mens Network luncheon at the Trade Center, he said Christians should tend toward financial liquidity and that small business operators should pay off debt. Many clients are interested in gold and silver, but he seems to discount the prospects of gold, saying it trades too high at F$1,726 an ounce Wednesday.
A sovereign God and the Christian steward
David Tulis: Say something about the Christian perspective on investing and coming meltdown, the fiscal cliff and other things of that kind — how grave the prospect is ahead and how should Christians steward resources God has given them.
Charlton Lentz: “Well you hit the keyword there, I think, which is steward, that doesn’t belong to us. So first and foremost I would say we should not be fearful. [A capital asset] does not belong to us anyway, and the reality is, if things get truly, truly bad, the way I look at that is there is a great opportunity there. There is a great opportunity for evangelism, there’s a great opportunity for revival in our land. So first and foremost I try to look at it as best I can from the godly perspective of, “He’s in control. He’s sovereign.”
And if this is where we’re going — if we’re going off some sort of cliff, that’s because that’s where he would have us go. And there’s a reason for that, and there’s going to be great blessing in all of that. From a stewardship standpoint of our own resources I think it does — we do need to have some pause, and look at seriously at how do we have things structured. Do we have things structured in a way that can withstand that sort of storm? And that’s a scary thing right now because there is not a lot of positive choices out there *** at least with the traditional things of stocks and bonds and so forth. And so you have to be very, very careful that you’re not overexposed in an area that if things do go bad you could lose large amounts of money, particularly if you don’t have it to lose. If you don’t have it to lose, you shouldn’t be in those risk-oriented investments. You should be very protected.
Q: In a crisis of confidence, people will stampede toward liquidity. What does Provident advise in that direction, generally speaking?
Charlton Lentz: Well, we do have a lot of clients in short-term bond ladders, which means they own the bonds themselves, very high-grade quality bonds, but very short term, so they’ve always liquidity that’s happening every few months. There’s other things out there like traditional cash-value life insurance that can be very valuable to look at.
Those are probably the two foundational pieces that I would want to make sure people have those in place before they look at anything more risk-worthy.
Q: What about gold and silver?
Charlton Lentz: Possibly. You know, we get asked that a lot. Gold in particular is very high right now, and granted it could go higher. It would have been a great thing to do about five years ago [laughter]. Now it’s a little bit scarier for me because that it’s at such a high point. So if I was going to own that I wouldn’t have a large percentages in that. And people tend to look at that as tough, if everything does go crazy and the monetary system starts to collapse, I’ll have this gold. Well, how do we know? How do we know that’s going to be the thing that’s going to be valuable in that sort of doomsday scenario — you know. Who knows?
Small outfits? Get liquid
Q: Could you say something about investing in yourself, or your own private business, or your home-based business in the time that has such peril ahead?
Charlton Lentz: We do have a lot of business owners that are clients, and the biggest thing they’re concerned with right now is the uncertainty around taxes. So, that certainly is a real threat, particularly to small business owners. So again I would want to make sure they are positioned with a lot of liquidity. If they’ve got debt they need to get rid of it and just have themselves positioned so that if things do get bad and taxes go way up or whatever it is — that they are positioned as strongly as they can be, without a lot of debt.
Q: If we have another meltdown, a la 2008, how conceivably can you say there is going to be good in that? Explain that.
Charlton Lentz: Well, my point there is more from the Christian perspective and the godly perspective. Oftentimes great revival comes in the most difficult times. So this ministry that I’m part of — CBMC — came on the heels of the Great Depression. Men realized that, hey, in the marketplace we’re strategically positioned to reach men in the marketplace. My pastor can’t come talk to this [business] guy, but I can. This ministry itself came out of great perilous times. *** The Lord can move in miraculous ways, oftentimes more so when people are stressed or anxiety-riddled than when times are, quote-unquote, good.
David: Thank you.