From Monk to Money Manager

Sep 18, 2019 8:35 AM ET

by Doug Lynam, book author and financial professional 

I’ve always hated talking about money. Growing up in a rich family, I learned through the behavior of those around me that money and materialism were evil. Instead of being used in love and service, money was weaponized and became a tool to manipulate and control behavior. So when I began studying philosophy and religion in high school and read the words of Paul the apostle, “For the love of money is the root of all evil,” I mistakenly believed Paul was right. I was a proto-monk in the making.

Where else could I live a noble life and avoid the “greedy capitalist corporate world?” Just then, I began to have a religious reawakening and started to explore the possibility of becoming a monk. And I did.  Eventually, I took over the monastery bookkeeping and stumbled into a Pandora’s box. I learned that the community had been running in the red for years. There were medical bills, car repairs, student loans, insurance payments, and all the living expenses. There were also retreats to Rome and help given to those in need. Credit cards became a necessity for survival. Even when our income level improved after we all landed good teaching jobs, it was too late. We were under an avalanche of debt.

How did our financial problems get so bad? For two reasons. First was the hope that prayer alone could solve our money problems. If prayer alone was ever going to solve a big money mess, we were first in line. The second reason was that we viewed money as evil and didn’t own up to our individual or collective financial responsibilities.

To remedy these systemic financial problems in our world, I formed my own company, Lynam Financial Services, then happily merged with a larger firm, LongView Asset Management. That’s when I left the monastery. I’d found a wider community to serve. In my mind, I didn’t leave monasticism; I’m just bringing what I discovered in the monastery out into the world.

The hard truth is that money is the root of almost everything, good and evil. And the deepest spiritual reality is that we are all interconnected. So we need a healthier attitude towards our finances that aligns our investments and money habits with our values. When we take a “green money” approach not only do we improve our own financial lives, we are also using our wealth to build a better world. It is a healthy way to love our neighbors as ourselves. 

Read more of Doug's story and about his new book here - 


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