Lately I have been thinking of what it means to invest in others.
Sowing, good soil…
I cannot say this enough – it’s important for us to build relationships and connections. It’s important to lift others up. We should be working on this daily. It’s not a one off situation. It’s something happening daily. Although we’re in a recession and many of us are short on extra cash it doesn’t mean our resources are short or slight. This isn’t a season of lack, it’s a season to examine the real bounty in your life and set yourself up to be in a better position. It’s a season to be creative with the resources we’ve been given. Remember the parable of the talents? The Master of the household gives three men the same amount and asks them to do what they will with it (Matthew 25: 14-28 NIV).
14 “Again, it will be like a man going on a journey, who called his servants and entrusted his wealth to them. 15 To one he gave five bags of gold, to another two bags, and to another one bag,[a] each according to his ability. Then he went on his journey. 16 The man who had received five bags of gold went at once and put his money to work and gained five bags more. 17 So also, the one with two bags of gold gained two more. 18But the man who had received one bag went off, dug a hole in the ground and hid his master’s money.
19 “After a long time the master of those servants returned and settled accounts with them. 20 The man who had received five bags of gold brought the other five. ‘Master,’ he said, ‘you entrusted me with five bags of gold. See, I have gained five more.’
21 “His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’
22 “The man with two bags of gold also came. ‘Master,’ he said, ‘you entrusted me with two bags of gold; see, I have gained two more.’
23 “His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’
24 “Then the man who had received one bag of gold came. ‘Master,’ he said, ‘I knew that you are a hard man, harvesting where you have not sown and gathering where you have not scattered seed. 25 So I was afraid and went out and hid your gold in the ground. See, here is what belongs to you.’
26 “His master replied, ‘You wicked, lazy servant! So you knew that I harvest where I have not sown and gather where I have not scattered seed? 27 Well then, you should have put my money on deposit with the bankers, so that when I returned I would have received it back with interest.
28 “‘So take the bag of gold from him and give it to the one who has ten bags. 29 For whoever has will be given more, and they will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what they have will be taken from them. 30 And throw that worthless servant outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’
So in other words, whatever you’ve been given – work to multiply it. Work to increase what you’ve been given. Burying what you’ve been blessed with doesn’t do any good for you or anyone else. Seriously.
And what about the Parable of the Sower? (Mark 4:3-9)
3 “Listen! A farmer went out to sow his seed. 4 As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path, and the birds came and ate it up. 5 Some fell on rocky places, where it did not have much soil. It sprang up quickly, because the soil was shallow. 6 But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched, and they withered because they had no root. 7 Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up and choked the plants, so that they did not bear grain. 8Still other seed fell on good soil. It came up, grew and produced a crop, some multiplying thirty, some sixty, some a hundred times.”
9 Then Jesus said, “Whoever has ears to hear, let them hear.”
This is the season of talents. A season to sow. Are your actions falling on good soil? How creative can you be? Can you use the resources at your hands in order to make some things happen? Of course you can. It isn’t always about money. So one of the things I do – and try to do it on a regular – is invest in others. Let me tell you what this looks like:
- Encouragement to those around you.
- Being fully present and able to listen.
- Lack of judgment for how others are living their lives (unless of course they are on a Ricky Bobby fast-track to the invisible fire – you may want to intervene then).
- Cooking a favorite meal to comfort someone.
- Anticipating someone’s needs before they have to ask me to do something.
- Giving a gift without expectation of anything in return.
- Lightening someone’s load – this usually comes in the form of good deeds, random acts of kindness, etc.
Sowing. This is where you’re really working and cannot exactly see the pay off now, but you’re delaying gratification for a better tomorrow. Let me also say this specifically can look like all of those difficult things and tasks you have absolutely no desire to handle. This is more like an investment in yourself. It may also appear as investment in others at times (because investing in others is investing in yourself and your future). You have faith that by creating a storehouse you’ll be able to use it one day. You’ll have need for it. You are in fact creating a surplus. Momentum. What does sowing look like?
- Tackling those things that are most debilitating. This could be dealing with your credit (amen…Lord bless my credit), this could be handling debt, clearing away clutter from your house. In other words, all of the work I’ve been putting off – this is part of what I consider sowing.
- Studying and perfecting a craft or hobby and turning it into a profession, a side hustle an income winning, way-making force. I’m writing. So how can I improve it? Take a seminar? A class? Teach another person? Blog in other places? Send those pitch letters I’m scared to send? Write when I’m reaaaaallllly not in the mood? Point is, butt in chair even on the days I’m not feeling it. It will look different for you, but it’s always the same concept. We often think we have to “be inspired” or “feel up to it” or have those ideas. Those are lies and foolishness. Do the work.
- Saving money.
- Learning how to do something that you know is important for your life and the way you live it. Ex. cooking, budgeting, being kind to older people. Pick an area you know you need to improve in. And you better not tell me there’s no area where you need improvement. You do. I do. We all do.
- Putting things in order. I know this is vague, but I mean it to be broad. This may mean re-organizing your house. Changing the people you spend time with. What’s important – most important to you and your life? What’s most precious to you? Order your steps accordingly. If you don’t know, pray and ask for the Divine Inspiration to assist you. Trust me. You’ll realize it.
- Making good on your promises. To yourself, your loved ones.
- Reconnecting with the right people. Aligning yourself with the ones that are the difference makers in your life.
- Ability to be honest with yourself and have honest conversations about 1) where you are at this moment and 2) where you want to go. If you have no idea what your position is, how do you know which direction you’re headed? If you’re not sure what you want or where you’re going, it’s hard to ask for directions.
All of the things I’ve listed above are things I am trying my hardest to work on. It’s a lot. It’s overwhelming some days. Some days I make no progress – or what appears to me as no progress. But I am here to tell you some days progress is just honoring where you are, yourself and your loved ones. Being able to be good to them. There are different seasons in our lives and each season calls for a different way of investing. This may be a season where you need to focus on yourself to be the best person you can for your family – to improve their lives.
The love of my life often tells me it’s important to communicate how you’re feeling (I struggle with this – getting better, but Jesus be a fence). I add this piece because people need to know where you are in your life. Maybe you need to cut back on all of the altruistic gestures? Maybe you should buy yourself a nice lunch, that fancy typewriter you’ve always wanted, set up a special area in your house for yourself to work, get that pedicure, take those few days off on a vacay with yourself. I’m not an expert, but I think you get the idea.
So are you sowing this season? Think you can live up to your own talents?
I believe you can….