Every day people around us are dying for just a little love, an ounce of compassion, a kind and encouraging word. During my thirty something years that I have lived on this earth, God has opened my eyes to a world where I can see the pain and hurt around me, and a voice inside me begging me to do something to alleviate their pain so that they, too, can experience the love and joy that I now experience in my life. Today, my pastor talked about investing in people and in their lives. While you won’t be able to commit wholeheartedly to everyone around you, we can strive to invest in at least one. Here are some basic principles in what I learned about investing in other people:
- Investing in others requires love.—To truly invest in others’ lives, you have to care about and love them. Loving someone means being willing to forgive and/or overlook their faults, being willing to do what is best for them, being kind and compassionate to them, and being willing to be there for them, at least, to some extent. Investing in others with true love for them, not only requires constructive criticism when they are headed down the wrong path, but also encouragement and validation of what they are doing well with in life. Without true love, the investment will sour and you will no longer be able to really invest in them.
- Investing in others requires sacrifice, without expecting a return.—Investing in others will take a lot out of you. It sometimes takes many spoons (For more on the spoon theory, see this link) for me to invest in certain people, but it is usually well worth it to me. However, if you are investing in a person just so that he or she will reciprocate, then I would say, “Don’t invest in them.” If, however, you are investing in them for God’s glory and/or so that they, not necessarily you, will gain something, then you have the right attitude. Investing in others will require some sacrifices on your part. For instance, I’m trying to invest in a certain person right now, but if this person leaves for whatever reason, but it would be to their benefit, I would have to sacrifice my possible feelings of abandonment, loss, and sadness, to fully support them in this new endeavor. I cannot invest in this person, expecting that the person will one day come back to a place where I can minister to them again because then it becomes about me and what I get out of the investment, more than about their joy and their fulfillment. Some people may wonder (as I sometimes have myself), if we have to invest in others without expecting a return from them, why should we do it at all? While we may not get a return from the people we are ministering to themselves, we do get at least one return—the feeling that you did the right thing and that you were able to share the love and compassion you have been graciously given to others. I don’t know about anyone else, but seeing people experience and bask in the love of God and have joy in their lives gives me hope and passion to give even more of myself to others.
- Investing in others requires initiative.—Investing in others requires the commitment to start, even with something small, like a kind word or sharing a meal with someone that needs to talk to you. If you don’t know who to invest in, and really pour your heart into, think about investing in those closest to you (like your family and close friends). You could also invest in someone who is aching for love and compassion, or who has some physical needs. You can also invest in more than one person. Jesus invested in at least twelve people (His disciples), but probably more. However, even investing in one person can make a world of difference.
Many people invest in money, material items, or other things that may not matter in eternity. However, the investment of loving and caring about people is an investment that will last forever. Many people are dying for love and someone who will just be there for them. There are many lonely, sad, and hurting people in this world. Will you be the one that reaches out and gives them the love, hope, and purpose they need? Let’s be the change we want to see in this world, and invest in someone today.