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Life in Monastery Paves Way to Financial Peace

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Author, From Monk to Money Manager, Word, 2019

Director, Educator Retirement Services, LongView Asset Management

Former Benedictine Monk, 1996-2016

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HATE AFFAIR WITH MONEY
Doug’s parents were wealthy but he says his family didn’t have a healthy concept about money.  “They were self-centered and materialistic,” he says.  “They gave wealth a bad name.”  He started studying philosophy and religion in high school and read, “For the love of money is the root of all evil. If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven” Matthew 19:21. “This seemed like the answer I was looking for,” says Doug. His search to find purpose, meaning and a sense of community led him to join the US Marines.  “I tried to find selfless service in the military,” says Doug.  He ended up in Officer Candidate School and loved it.  He graduated near the top of his class and almost stayed to make a career out of it.  As he was finishing up his last year of college before going into active duty, Doug says he had second thoughts about making a livelihood by fighting. At that time, Doug began to have a religious reawakening and met a group of Benectidine Monks who seemed to have all the answers to some of the questions he had about life.  So Doug decided to join this group of men and become a monk, too.  “It was somewhat of an act of rebellion and was something diametrically opposed to my family’s lifestyle.  It seemed like the perfect solution: all the discipline and structure of a military life with an even nobler purpose. Best of all, I would take a vow of poverty and be free from the grip of money and materialism forever.”

At 22, Doug entered the monastery fresh out of college.  It was a struggle to pay bills for the first few years at the monestary.  “I assumed the other older brothers were wiser and smarter,” says Doug. “And that they knew something about finance and bookkeeping.”  Sadly, Doug discovered that was not the case.  Within a few years, it was clear that the monastery was struggling financially.  “Calls were coming in from creditors and I was using my personal credit cards to cover living expenses.”  He finally insisted on taking over the household finances and stumbled into Pandora’s box of troubles.  “The community had been running in the red for years,” he says.  They were not supported by the church nor accepted any donations.  Doug believes the problems got so bad because they thought prayer alone could solve the only problem and that they all played “hot potato” with the community finances.  “God shows us how to live, but God can’t do the living for us,” says Doug.  “I believe in the power of prayer, but praying for the bills to get paid without taking the right action is a guaranteed path to failure.”  After many months of trying, Doug felt each monk needed to file personal bankruptcy to solve the problem.  He was teaching full-time and his part-time job was to organize, file and track all the paperwork.  It was a two year process and in the end, Doug says it was a blessing.  After surviving the ordeal, Doug decided to learn everything he could about finances.  “If I was going to be responsible for the community money, I was going to do it right,” he says.  He bought every book he could about finances and as his knowledge deepened, so did his responsibilities.  Friends and guests of the monastery sought him out for advice and support.  “I realized that every visitor who came with a spiritual problem also had a financial problem lurking in the background.  More importantly, I could help, so I did.”

MAKING MONEY SERVE GOD
Doug learned two rules about money: 1.  If you ignore money, it will always bite you in the backside; and 2. Bad things happen to good people.  Doug started teaching an economics and personal finance course and his colleagues at work asked for financial advice.  After helping numerous people, Doug decided to start his own company, Lynam Financial Services in 2015.  After 20 years in the monastery, Doug left the next year.  “I found a wider community to serve,” he says.  “My mission is simple: I don’t want anyone to be poor. When money becomes a part of our spiritual practice, used in love and service, it brings us closer to God.”  Doug recently merged his firm with Longview Asset Management.  “You can’t make God serve money.  But you can make money serve God,” says Doug.  “It’s not all evil.  You can align your money with your values and it’s the best way to bring love and passion to fruition.”

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Doug Lynam
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