Alfred Pennyworth was far more than just the butler to Thomas and Martha Wayne, the deceased parents of Bruce Wayne—aka Batman. The Waynes trusted Alfred so much that upon their death, he became Bruce Wayne’s legal guardian and fiduciary of the entire Wayne estate. Alfred was a surrogate father to Bruce and the legal custodian of everything he would inherit.

Alfred was not only the caretaker of the mansion and the overseer of the land, but he was also the successful fiduciary of the multinational business and coordinator of all the other advisors regarding legal matters and financial management of Bruce’s trust fund. Bruce’s parents were generous philanthropists, and one of Alfred’s duties was to continue their benevolence. 

Alfred Pennyworth, through his competence and trustworthiness across his significant responsibilities, is an embodiment of the modern-day concept of a fiduciary

The fiduciary standard

Advisors in the financial services industry define a fiduciary as a person or organization that acts on behalf of another person or persons, putting their clients’ interests ahead of their own, with a duty to preserve good faith and trust. Being a fiduciary thus requires being bound both legally and ethically to act in the other’s best interests.

Financial advisors acting as fiduciaries are required, first and foremost, to accomplish the objectives that the actual owner has for their assets.

The fiduciary does not own anything that they manage. They can be sued and imprisoned for failing their fiduciary duty by operating as though their assets were their own. A fiduciary who uses resources for their own purposes and not for the purposes of the actual owner is legally condemned for embezzlement.

God owns it all

God’s covenant with Abraham forever changed the idea of wealth accumulation. The writer of Genesis tells us, “Now the Lord said to Abram, ‘Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you. And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing’” (Gen. 12:1-2, ESV, emphasis mine). The purpose of God’s blessing in our own lives is so that we can funnel God’s resources to be a blessing to others.

We are blessed with resources so that we can be a blessing to others.  God’s blessing comes to us in a variety of ways with financial blessing being one of the most obvious. Our call is to allow God’s resources, especially financial, to flow through us and not get stuck in our hands.

We are God’s fiduciaries

The same requirements that applied to Alfred Pennyworth and to financial advisors under the fiduciary standard apply to us as managers of God’s money.

Many Christians consider both the investments they hold and the growth on the investments to be their own, but a fiduciary realizes that the investments and earnings are owned by the Master.

What would you say to God if you sat and spoke together about the investments He trusted you to manage on His behalf? Would you consider changing the way you invest—both what you invest in and how you envision the earnings on those investments being used?

Our financial goals and His purposes

If we are fiduciaries of God’s resources, why don’t our investment objectives match His purposes for those resources?

When asked, most people state that their goals for investing are: 

  1. Maximize rate of return
  2. Minimize risk
  3. Minimize taxes

The same people, when asked what God’s goals are for the world and people, will often answer:

  1. Love and worship God
  2. Love our neighbors
  3. Do justice and mercy
  4. Reconcile brokenness from the Fall

There is a disconnect here. On the one hand, we are quick to give lip service to the idea that “God owns it all” while we are, in fact, managing His resources for our own pleasure or according to our own wisdom, striving for tax benefits or maximized return for our own ends.

He entrusts resources to us, but we often don’t see them that way—instead we squander or invest them poorly relative to achieving spiritual objectives. 

It is incumbent upon us as stewards of God’s resources, as His fiduciaries, to invest in ways that accomplish His eternal purposes.