of the Finance
The consequences of the 2008 financial crisis continue to linger over the world today. The crisis and the years following it brought to light the structural deformities that have over time permeated the financial industry.
The premise of the financial markets is an inherently good one – liquid markets, where capital moves with ease from those who have it in excess to companies and projects that need it, is necessary to growth. However, as a result of the fall, finance, like all spheres of the world, has been distorted – it has been overtaken by human greed – and has caused dishonesty, lack of transparency and a misalignment of risk and return.
This distortion highlights where worldly truth is insufficient and we need Gospel truth. Pure academic thought would suggest that “rational actors” seeking their own self-interest will create the best society. However, the 2008 crisis demonstrated that while people behaved rationally, very few behaved responsibly – and here we see that a flourishing society is not created by those serving their self-interest, but by those who serve others.
In the wake of the financial crisis and the focus thereafter on “reforming Wall Street,” we see God using the crisis to redeem both (i) the people in the financial industry and (ii) the structure of the financial industry.
First, the people – Wall Street has long been known for its extravagant showings of wealth – people justified the hyper-competitive environment and long work hours by what they received in return – money itself, as well as the luxuries it provides and the status it affords. In the large scale layoffs and drastic pay cuts in the wake of 2008, people have been forced to reckon with the question of “is it worth it?” and inevitably the deeper questions of purpose and meaning that must follow. This has given us, as believers, incredible opportunities to journey alongside our colleagues, friends and family to point them to the only One in whom true purpose is found.
Secondly – we see God moving in the redemption of the structure itself. The worldwide recognition of the destructive consequences of human greed has made all agree, regardless of political views, that transparency and risk/reward alignment are critical in the healthy functioning of the markets. Significant strides have been made in increased accountability and re-alignment of compensation structures – we have seen a shift from a “maximizing the bottom line at all costs” mentality to one that is more nuanced – focused not only on profits, but also long-term sustainability, interdependency with other industries and the impact on society as a whole. There is still much work to be done. There is certainly no simple law or easy fix to these issues, and much time and energy must be spent by all parts of society to thoughtfully rebuild the financial system with a firm foundation to protect the integrity and health of the markets so that they can function in a way to help society flourish.
A PRAYER FOR FINANCE
Dear Heavenly Father,
We thank You that You are sovereign over all things in the world, and can make good come from even the worst of human-made crisis.
We lift up to you the needs of the church, our city and world, particularly today as it relates to the financial industry.
We pray for all of those across the city and world who have been impacted by the recent volatility of the financial world – whether it be through unemployment, loss of lifelong savings, or broken personal lives – we pray that no matter what the situation, You continue to draw people to Yourself and show them that we will always be disappointed until we found our stability in Your unchanging love.
We pray for those here at Redeemer and churches across the world who work in finance that they may be filled with love for their co-workers and and that You give us, your Church, discernment to sense the Holy Spirit’s work and point those in our community and world to You.
We pray for all of those involved in discussions regarding the reform of the financial industry – the politicians and citizens who put them into office, regulators and central bankers. While complex, we pray that they be filled with wisdom so that they would develop sound policy reform to encourage transparency in the markets.
We pray for the poor across the world, who are especially vulnerable now whether it be through the political instability in Syria and surrounding areas, or the financial instability surrounding emerging markets – we pray that You, the defender of the poor, would direct all global leaders in developing policy, reform and action to bring stability back in an expedient way.
We pray all these things in Your name, Amen.