Are you a Pilgrim, or are you a Tourist?

Welcome! This is the first in what we hope to be a long list of blog articles by Greater Gifts Family Office for our clients, prospective clients, friends, family, or anyone interested in the intersection of Faith and Finance. We are excited to share this journey with you.

The idea behind Greater Gifts has been a yearning in my heart for the last decade or so of my practice. And in recent years, it’s felt more like an itch I couldn’t scratch! After 35 years in the industry, and 25 of those being the CEO/Founder of my very own firm, I felt a pull to do… more. But I couldn’t quite define what I wanted that “more” to look like.

Stop me if any of this sounds familiar to you. When I shared this elusive yearning with my family and a few clients, I was amazed to hear that many felt the same way! And what’s interesting still is that this feeling of being called to “more” was not limited to a certain age range!  Young and experienced alike shared that they wanted to accomplish something meaningful.

How long do we entertain this idea? We play the scenario out in our head as we wait to fall asleep. Or we mention it to a loved one in the hopes that they have some pearls of wisdom. But inevitable we face the hard truth that pursuing this dream requires Change, and there are just not enough hours in the day for that.

This is the mindset of the Tourist. The tourist looks at all the attractions and chooses not what is most fulfilling, but what has the shortest line. The tourist travels to a destination seeking pleasure. The tourist chooses a path because that’s where everyone says you’re supposed to go. When the trip is over, they return home with some nice stories and pleasurable memories, but their way of life remains unchanged.

The mindset of the Pilgrim is rather different. A pilgrim prioritizes that which will make her a better person. A pilgrim moves with purpose. It’s a conscious decision to follow a higher calling. When the pilgrim reaches her destination, she is transformed by God’s grace and given the courage to spread His love to the world.

Does this mean you have to visit the Holy Land or walk the Way of St. James to feel fulfillment? Absolutely not (although I do plan to make the trip in 2022 if anyone wants to join!). Embracing the pilgrim mindset is a journey in itself. The yearning we feel to become more is God’s invitation to start our pilgrimage. And every good pilgrimage should start with prayer.

I don’t pretend to be an expert on prayer by any stretch, but in my own personal life, I’ve begun starting my days by asking “God, what do you want me to do today?” Just being open to Him working in my life has helped bring clarity to my day and give me peace that I am on a good path. This also opens my eyes to opportunities that may have seemed too difficult or too time-consuming had I not invited God to give me strength. When a decision becomes more challenging, I know I can bring it to Him in Adoration or Spiritual Direction.

We live in the real world and we are attacked daily by the stresses of money, family, political conflict, etc. Taking the time to slow down is a constant battle. This is where Silence can be a powerful tool. If you are truly looking for a specific way to do things differently or give yourself time to be with God, I’d like to recommend a Silent Retreat.

I attended a conference in Nashville with Kevin in 2019, and we were enjoying lunch in the main hall with some of our industry peers (mostly my age, but a few were Kevin’s age too). We were chatting about where we practiced and how we were developing the idea for Greater Gifts when I mentioned that I spent time discerning this vision at a Silent Retreat. Someone at the table asked how a Silent Retreat works, but I could tell from their expressions of horror that they had already figured out the answer. Another person asked, “You really don’t talk at all??” I explained that there was vocal participation during the religious services, but otherwise, there isn’t any communication. Finally, we got the question we knew was coming. “How long is the retreat?”

“Three days,” I said. Every one of them about fell out of their chairs! They were trying to decide if they’d be able to make it a full day with no talking or no communication, but the thought of devoting an entire extended weekend in silence was a complete shock! They laughed when I told them how all the meals are held in a big room with everyone eating in silence. No TVs in the background, no mindless browsing on the cell phone. Most people are content to eat mindfully and enjoy the awareness of their senses. No one really minds sitting next to a stranger because there isn’t any conversation expected anyway!

Why spend so much time in absolute silence? Because our lives are filled with noise, and our inner voice is being drowned out by the distractions. Once a year, I use this extended silence as a reset button and reminder that God wants to use me to do His work. It is a gift of time to journal, reflect, be in nature, and pray unceasingly. I can then call back to this memory when I am in Adoration at my nearby Church or attending Mass or even out walking the dog at night. By creating a foundation at the Silent Retreat, the little silences throughout the day can become much more insightful.

Our friends at the conference (who are professionals in the business of telling people how to plan out their life) couldn’t fathom the concept of spending 3 days in complete silence, even when we explained that it was a tool we use for guidance and direction. To many of my peers, a financial plan is a simple Cash In vs Cash Out spreadsheet that tells clients if their funds will last through retirement. A spreadsheet cannot tell you if you will feel fulfilled or experience happiness or avoid any stress when you reach 65. The planning software can tell you if you can afford to take a pay cut at your current job, but it can’t tell you if you should consider a career change to pursue a calling.

I’ve been so blessed to offer financial planning services to clients for 35 years through Macke Financial Advisory Group, but God is calling me to do more now and offer you a way to look at your life from a new perspective. You can become a Pilgrim on your journey by beginning with the end in mind. Once you have confidence that your path is leading towards fulfillment, our team at Greater Gifts can design the financial strategy that will lead the way.

Todd Macke

CEO/Founder

I like to view things from 50,000 feet, to see where the opportunities lie ahead and position my clients to take advantage of those trends. Divine intervention led to me this vocation in July of ’85, and I became the first fiduciary advisor in Southwest Florida in 1996. And now I am rebranding the firm to incorporate faith with finance. This was a calling to take a successful practice and make room for God in our work. 35 years as a financial advisor has shown me that “finance without faith” can lead to failure in a client’s goals/outcomes. This graph from Pew Research bears this out amongst young adults.