Starting a new year usually leads to resolutions and commitments to simplify – everything from the pantry, garage, and our clothing collection, to calendars and extracurricular activities. We desire to be more present, less crazy with our commitments, and to introduce some semblance of margin. We commit to more no’s to outside pressures and more yeses to family, faith, and fitness, all in hopes of less stress, better sleep, and an increased quality of life.
But hold on just a minute. Before you attack your commitments with a red pen, keep in mind there’s one thing that really should stay on your list: investing in others.
A major pro in our culture is the popularity of “giving back,” but the temptation is to develop a project mentality by believing a few “good things” sprinkled here and there are enough. Jesus didn’t just set the bar higher, he created a whole knew standard. The old way of doing things had a lot to do with accomplishing a large quantity of “good things.” His new way – the best, most life-giving way – has a lot to do with sharing and investing your LIFE.
I can almost hear audible moans coming from your side of the screen, and if I had to guess, the reason is probably on this list (confession: this list may or may not reflect my own struggles – if you identify, you are in good company):
- We don’t have time. Scaling back busyness so time matches the priorities we claim is a post for another day, but there’s good news for the topic at hand. Investing in others doesn’t necessarily require large blocks of time. In fact, it’s often most effective when we include others in our day-to-day lives. Connect over lunch (we all have to eat) or invite someone to your child’s soccer game. It could even be a monthly 45-minute phone call. Simple and consistent go far.
- We feel unqualified. “I’m disqualified because I’m not a model _________ (parent, leader, spouse, etc.).” Your life is like a treasure chest, full of wins and losses, successes and failures. Burying it doesn’t do anyone any good. We assume everyone wants to just hear stories of success, but in reality, they are mostly interested in stories of failure. After all, when we look back, didn’t our failures often shape us the most?
- We don’t know who to invest in. There’s not a science behind picking someone to invest in, so don’t fall prey to the whole “paralysis of analysis” bit. Lead a small group at your church, take a younger co-worker under your wing, read to elementary students on your lunch break, or mentor at-risk youth. If you are really stuck, look for someone currently navigating the last few stages of life you just completed. Get a name and a face in mind then offer encouragement, pray for them, and have them over for dinner just because.
All of this is actually about stewardship.
Jesus tells an amazing story in Matthew 25 to reorient our perspective on what this life really is. It’s more than just a collection of experiences, failures, or successes. We’ve been entrusted with a gift. We are stewards of this one life – this tiny blip on the continuum of eternity. Stewards and spenders live differently, don’t they? As stewards, we understand building a legacy to outlive us requires intentional investment. “The value of a life is largely determined by how much has been given away” (Andy Stanley). If you’ve ever been to a funeral of someone who lived this way, you know what I’m talking about.
Friends, it’s our privilege to leverage who we are for those coming along behind us. And if we don’t, who will?
Let’s cut out some Netflix, social media time, pointless meetings, and a few extracurriculars. Let’s simplify, but as we do, let’s make sure investing in others stays.
Join the conversation by commenting below: How has someone investing in you made a difference? What’s your next step in leveraging who you are for those coming along behind?