I look back on my life and now understand what the writer of Proverbs meant when he wrote in chapter 16 verse 9, “In their hearts humans plan their course, but the Lord establishes their steps.” If I’m honest, for the last twenty plus years, He was establishing my steps even though I had no plan.
In 1999, I joined a financial planning firm despite having no interest in the industry prior to my father-in-law asking me to join in 1998. Prior to that, I had been floundering since my business failed in 1996 that left us with a mountain of debt.
Starting in 2009, after watching people lose half of their savings, I began to pray a specific prayer, “God, I want a door out of this business and I want to know the truth.” The more I studied and read, the more truth I learned, but the door would not open for another 8 and ½ years. When it finally did open, my faith was tested like no other time in my life.
Within two days of walking through the door, September 30, 2017, my dad went into the hospital and passed away on October 13, 2017. From October 2 through early November I would spend about 5 days at my house in Kansas and the rest of the time with my mom in SC.
On November 5th, while driving back with my oldest son from Oklahoma City after baseball, my wife sent me a text that read, “We have a new leak.” This would be the beginning of a disaster in our home that forced us out of our house for almost a month and to this date, May 7, 2018, the work that was supposed to be done, still isn’t finished.
On top of that, our youngest son has a condition called P.A.N.D.A.S., Pediatric Autoimmune Neuropsychiatric Disorders Associated with Streptococcal Infections. It’s a condition that we didn’t know existed until 2014. This is a condition that I would not wish on any child. Because of this condition, he has practically had to be home schooled since January.
This was not what I expected when God finally opened the door for me to get out of the business. Many times I even found myself questioning God and questioning myself. Did I not do what you asked? Was that really a door that opened or did I force it open? Then, I realized that had I not walked through the door, it would have been difficult to be with my dad when he breathed his last breath. I couldn’t have been with my mom while he was in the hospital or for the time after he passed.
For an entire semester of school, I’ve spent time with my son that I couldn’t have if I hadn’t walked through that door. And, despite the struggles, he continues to get better and one day, he may have the opportunity to help more people than I ever could.
What about the house? It’s just a house. We have a roof over our head, food to eat, clothes to wear, and a family that I wouldn’t trade for anything.
So, what now? I believe that each and every one of us have the opportunity to make the lives of others better because of what we’ve lived through and what we know. For me, that’s 22 years of debt and 18 years in the financial industry. And, only God could have orchestrated that. Romans 8:28 says, “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” One thing I know, is that I love God, and I believe that I’ve been called according to his purpose.
When I began to pray for a door out of the business, I thought it was because I hated the business. As I was approaching my last day in the business, the truth was, I didn’t hate all of the business. I really like helping people, but I was limited in how many I could help when my income was dependent on money under management.
How could I share my knowledge in a way that would benefit people? What was it I could do to get their attention? What should I call it? Complete Fitness? Mission Freedom? Today, I write to you as nothing other than Mickey Ellison, Me.
The knowledge that I gained in over 18 years in the financial industry has given me knowledge that could save people thousands of dollars in fees if they knew where to look. It has given me knowledge on how to help young couples prioritize in a confusing and overwhelming arena. Information that can help people make educated decisions when they change jobs or retire.
Most of the financial advisors that I know are good people that do want to help their clients achieve their goals. They are also people who have a built in conflict of interest because their income is usually derived from gathering assets or commissions and not advice. What I believe most people could use is a coach. Someone who’s income is not tied to how much money you have.
Think about it. Would you buy a house without ever seeing it? Would you pay $250,000 without having it inspected? Yet, that’s close to what most people do when they retire or invest money for any other reason. They hear terms that they don’t understand in a language that seems foreign, and assume it’s too complicated to understand. When the truth is, it is much simpler than most believe and taking a little time with someone to become educated may save you thousands, and prevent you from becoming a “victim” because you didn’t understand.
Please know, that everywhere you sign or initial on an investment application means something. Don’t sign it if you don’t understand it. I saw this hundreds of times while I was in the industry. Many times the advisor takes the blame but the reality is when you sign it or initial it, they assume that you understand. The book, prospectus, that they give you when you make an investment, should have every fee that you could possibly pay in it. On that application, you are signing that you’ve read that book and you understand.
The issue is, who can you ask that doesn’t have a vested interest in you making the investment? Maybe someone with 18 years of experience in the industry. Someone that was a Certified Financial Planner and had 4 different securities licenses.
Those 18 years of experience also had a direct relationship with 22 years of debt. Because of what we have had to go through with debt and my experience in the financial industry, I have an understanding of debt that most do not.
Debt is where the idea of Mission Freedom came from. Debt enslaves people, not only those that are in debt, but those that have no personal debt. My hope and prayer is that, we as a nation will gain an understanding of this because it very well may be the greatest threat to our freedom that exists, and there’s very little understanding of how. If we did, we would be doing everything we could to eliminate our own debt and joining forces to eliminate each other’s debt. And, I believe that can start within the church.
So, no more catchy names. It’s just me, Mickey.