A Profitable Investment Strategy
Erwin Wullschleger, Jr. (Mr. W, I'll call him). You probably don't know him, but hearing the name, it sort of sticks with you. Speaking of sticking with you, Mr. W continues to stick in my mind even though the last time I saw him was in 1973.
It was a sunny school day in junior high school. I remember vividly being called out of class that afternoon and asked to take a walk with my English teacher, Mr. W. I wasn't sure what this was all about, but it was okay with me, because I trusted this teacher. He proceeded, as we strolled the school grounds, to express his concern that my grades had dropped recently and I didn't seem to be putting forth my usual effort or engagement in class. All of the teachers had noticed it. As he shared and asked for my feedback about what I thought was at the heart of the problem, I felt safe and knew that I could be open and honest with Mr. W. I began to open up and tell him that things were tough at home. My parents had not been getting along very well and I was upset about how things were going. I found it hard to concentrate on my homework and classwork because of the sadness and fear that was constantly on my mind. I wasn't neglected at home and I was provided a safe and supportive environment. Family members knew what was going on and provided support and comfort in ways that they could. However, the emotional impact of what was happening felt overwhelming. That day, walking with my junior high English teacher made a difference. It helped me to know that he and other teachers would be supportive and take measures to help support my functioning at school. It didn't change what was happening in my life, but it added one more aspect of support to better equip me to cope and keep moving forward. It is important to note, however, that his gesture was not the beginning of Mr. W's impact upon my life, it was the culmination. There was a reason that he could have that important conversation with me that day.
Rewind almost two years to the beginning of 7th grade. Mr. W was a new teacher at our school. He came to our small southern town from Cleveland, Ohio. Being from the north, his accent and mannerisms were a little different from that to which I was accustomed. He was firm with classroom control, but, as I recall, he was creative and liked to provide unique learning opportunities. Other teachers did this too. But there was something different about Mr. W. He was also very open about his interest in impacting kids outside the walls of King Springs School.
It wasn't long into that 7th grade year that Mr. W took notice of me. He seemed to believe that I had promise beyond the average junior higher. I'm not sure what he saw in me...and he did not limit this to me...but the way he engaged with me, and the things he told me, sent the message that I had great potential and could achieve significant things in my life. I won't take the time to detail all of the ways he invested in me, but they were significant and many. Just let me summarize...he encouraged me to participate in an oratorical competition and coached me two years in a row. I won district 2nd place and 1st place respectively in that contest. He asked me to join an effort to create a community service organization we called Group Action Project (GAP) in which we secured an empty house in a poor neighborhood and hosted fun activities, provided snacks and offered tutoring to children of the area each Saturday morning. He took me to a local youth camp to introduce me to the facility and dream about how it may be used to further the work with the underprivileged youth. He invited me and a girl from our class to come to his home and have dinner with him and his wife...to help us develop social skills in a more formal setting. You see, that stroll on the school grounds in 1973 wasn't the first time that Mr. W and I had a serious conversation. He had spent time intentionally investing in me over months, that had earned him the right to speak into a tough situation.
It has been a long time since I last saw Mr. W as I lost track of him and he has since passed away. However, because of his intentional investment in a naïve, simple junior high student, his impact and legacy have been lasting. I'm quite sure he probably had similar influence in many lives over the years. I can tell you, however, his investment in me yielded good returns. Since then, others have made investments as well...an aunt and uncle, Rosella and Oscar Huffman, Pastor Tommy Maines, Theater Professor Joe Jones, Education Professor Dr. Ken Riggs, Music Professor Vernon Whaley and entrepreneur John Saddington. Each of these, and others whom space does not allow me to mention, have made investments in my life that have reaped great returns. For their investments, I am deeply indebted. Perhaps that is why I have taken seriously the opportunities that God has given me to invest in the lives of others. No matter how I have lived out my purpose of making a difference in the lives of others, through sharing the good news of Jesus, it has been most effective when I am engaging in an incarnational ministry relationship with another person. This may have been with a student, working with a youth or college-aged person through student/campus ministry, counseling in the local church or agency, life coaching, accountability relationships, or doing therapy with foster kids. It all involves investment.
Timothy, my dear son, be strong through the grace that God gives you in Christ Jesus. You have heard me teach things that have been confirmed by many reliable witnesses. Now teach these truths to other trustworthy people who will be able to pass them on to others.
2 Timothy 2:1-2
Why Personal Investment in People is a Profitable Strategy
We hear much in the media and marketing about investing for our future...for retirement. There are many options available for anyone to grow their financial wealth in preparation for those later years. Whether we consider individual stocks, mutual funds, 401k, Roth IRA, employer retirement plans, or even cryptocurrency like Bitcoin, it can all be rather confusing and sometimes risky. Perhaps risk is always something to consider...some investment instruments offer more risk than others, as we are always concerned about the Return on Investment (ROI).
When it comes to investment in people, considering a few important benefits makes it clear that the returns are worth any risk that may be involved.
There is also a return for the one who is investing. Jesus has told us that we can live in such a way that we are making heavenly investments. "Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also" (Matthew 6:19-21). Where we invest ourselves will determine where our hearts lie. When we invest in the eternal welfare of another, we are making deposits in our heavenly retirement account. The good thing is, it's not the FDIC that guarantees that investment, it is God Himself!
What is the Next Step?
If you agree that investing in people is not only biblical, but urgently needed in our world, what will you do about it? What is your purpose? Generally, as a Christ follower, it is to glorify Him and to point others to Him as you love Him supremely and love others as yourself. Specifically, however, your purpose...the unique context in which you carry out that general purpose...that is where you can focus to determine what investing in others looks like for your. Is it your children at home because you're in that season of life, or that coworker or supervision report that needs you to take them under your wing? Maybe it is that youth of a single parent at church, or a college student you know. Ask God to show you who may need your investment...praying for awareness and guidance often opens our eyes to the people who are right there before us and we may not have noticed before. A willing heart is the first step.
Erwin Wullschleger, Jr. may never know what an impact he had on a junior high student in whom he took the time to invest. I've often wished I had looked him up and shared my appreciation for what he did for me. Nevertheless, I think he has some idea now, as he has laid up treasures in heaven.
Who has made significant investments in your life? Share a story of how they impacted you, in the comments below. Share this post to spread the love!
More Than a Noise
Childhood music lessons are something that many of us have experienced/endured...take your pick. For me, it was guitar, starting at about third grade. For my sister, it was trumpet in elementary school and, later, piano. Guitar and piano aren't too difficult to tolerate in the early stages of learning...trumpet, on the other hand...well. Sorry Angie :-) At least the trumpet phase didn't last very long as I remember. Can you imagine the budding percussionist practicing? Ear plugs, please!
There is something annoying about a screeching violin, buzzing trumpet or crashing cymbal. It grates against the auditory nerves. It sends us running from the room with hands on our ears. It is unpleasant and we want to escape it if we can. This means no disrespect to the young musician in their formative years, but it is what it is.
Those clanging, screeching, squeaking instruments, as annoying as they are, have a message for us in our fulfillment of purpose. They teach us a very important lesson as we seek to engage our gifting in the purposed living we pursue. You see, it is important that we understand how our gifting informs, supports and empowers our purposed living. Whether you have the gift of teaching, shepherding, or administration, for example, that gifting will be an integral part of the purpose you have for your life. We have talents of all kinds to enable us in the work we do, but as a follower of Christ, you have spiritual gifting that is endowed by the Holy Spirit who indwells you. He empowers you to make a difference. However, there is another aspect of our gifting that trumps all else.
If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.
1 Corinthians 13:1-3
As we read in this passage, that aspect of our gifting that overrules all others is LOVE. Yes, love. Without it, we are like those annoying, clanging, squeaking instruments. So, it is not enough just to be gifted. We must exercise our gifts in the context of love.
Miraculous Communication without Love
No matter what your perspective on the gift of tongues, one thing is central...it was intended as a sign to unbelievers (1 Corinthians 14:20-25). We can see then, that the use of this gift outside the context of love, makes it like the babbling of pagan worshipers much like the indiscriminate sound of a gong or cymbal. There is even the connection that could be made of the use of gongs, cymbals and trumpets in pagan ritual. Therefore, if we exercise a miraculous gift of communication without the motive of love, we are just a noise to those who hear us. No benefit will come of it.
Prophecy, Knowledge and Faith without Love
Prophecy is a gifting of both foretelling and forth telling. The prophets, for example, wrote the Holy Spirit inspired prophecies of things to come. But, every time a person declares the Word of God...any time the Gospel is preached...they are engaging in prophesying. Related to this, is the gift of knowledge...to understand the mysteries of God. Finally, the gift of faith...a faith that comes out of one's preaching and knowledge...opens the door for God to move and work in miraculous ways, is highlighted. As we declare the truth of God's Word and the good news of salvation...as we plumb the depths of the deep mysteries of God...as we exercise a miraculous faith that moves mountains...if we do so without the saturation of love, we are nothing. We have nothing for which to be recognized. We have nothing to show for our efforts.
Extreme Generosity and Self-Sacrifice without Love
The apostle Paul reaches the height of religious expression as he brings this paragraph to a close. Neither would volunteering to give all of your possessions to feed the poor, or offering your body to be burned, produce any spiritual benefit if not done out of love for those who are being served. Such efforts would be fruitless and empty. It wouldn't purchase acceptance with God and it would result in little impact for eternal benefit to others...all because of the lack of the motivating factor of love.
Is love really that important? Does it really make that much of a difference? The answer...yes. When you listen to the words of God, you find very quickly that love drives everything He has done.
For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.
Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.
1 John 4:7-12
Love drives the plan of God to redeem His creation. Therefore, love is to drive all that we do as we fulfill our purpose in the master plan of God. How will you love through the purpose to which you've been called? We must ask ourselves what drives our passion and life? If it is anything less than love, we will find that our lives have become noisy clanging that accomplishes nothing.
How has God's love impacted your life? How do you want to make a difference through living your purpose in love? What challenges you to love well? Comment and share!
Purpose in Community
Have you noticed how basic home design has transformed in the last 10-20 years? Front porches have gotten smaller and patios and fenced-in back yards have grown larger. It is possible to come home from a day out in the world, remotely open your garage door, pull in, and close the door behind you...all without interacting with your neighbors next door, or across the street. It is a growing trend...notably, more significant among Millennials in their 30s. A survey by the Ownerly Team revealed some interesting results:
What is the significance? People have a decreasing sense of community in our culture. At the writing of this post, we are emerging (hopefully) from a worldwide pandemic that has kept people in lockdown for months...isolating us from neighbors, friends and family. This survey was done just prior to the beginning of the pandemic...I wonder what the numbers would look like after a year of isolation and social distancing?
There was a day when the sense of community was woven into the fabric of our lives. Neighbors would sit together on their porches and share stories of the day. Kids would play in the street or gather in a neighbor's yard for a friendly game of baseball or hide-n-seek. It was not unusual for a family to leave their doors unlocked when they left home for a few hours, because they trusted one another and everyone looked out for their neighbors. Any parent in the neighborhood could parent, correct and guide any child in their yard or home...everyone felt they were a part of a community.
God has created us for community. Think about His nature and character, as reflected in who He is and how he has worked to accomplish His plan.
This only scratches the surface, but I think it is clear that God values relationship and community. He is a God of relationship and He has called us to enjoy and thrive in community. We are at our best when we are together...better together. Many of the struggles of our world can be traced to the division that comes through hatred, distrust and fear. The opposite is also true. When the people of God come together and selflessly love one another and those around them, God does some amazing things to heal and redeem his fallen creation. It only stands to reason that God would use community in our lives to help us understand and pursue His purpose for us. That is the reason we have established Purposed 365 as a community of encouragement and inspiration! We are better together! Here are a few reasons why we believe engaging in relational community is valuable in living our purpose.
The Value of Relationship in Living Our Purpose
Maybe tonight, as you drive in from your long day at work, park in the driveway. Get out of the car and walk across the street...introduce yourself to your name, and start working on learning those names. You never know when you may meet a friend that will become your Paul, Barnabas or Timothy. So, go ahead...step into community...into relationships that will enhance and facilitate your pursuit of your God-given purpose. Allow the voice and partnership of others help you fulfill a life that you may never know otherwise. Live purposed in community!
Who is speaking into your life? Where do you find partnerships in pursuing your purpose? How have you benefitted from community? Like, share and start a conversation in the comments...we need one another!
Resuming the Route
He has a good sense of direction so when there's a traffic back-up, he tries the back roads to get around it. It doesn't matter that it doesn't eventually save any time, it's just the fact that he can keep moving. Even though it takes just as long, and involves more miles, he feels satisfied that he is able to be "making progress" instead of sitting still in traffic on the interstate. His wife has come to realize this is sort of his method of operation on road trips and sometimes, she will say, "Don't you want to just be patient and wait in out?" But, most of the time, she just humorously asks, "Do you know where you're going?" Undaunted, however, he revels in his achievement when he emerges triumphant in bypassing the back-up and gets back on the original route beyond the jam, and moving once again at highway speed.
Does this sound familiar? I can speak so well of this scenario because this guy is me. I think it may be a man thing, but maybe many of the females reading this can relate as well. Sometimes my endeavors serve me well, and sometimes it gets me into a situation where I'm no better off than I was sitting in the creeping line of cars. Sometimes I get off the original route because I consciously choose to try a different route. However, at other times, I missed a turn, requiring me to recalculate my route and ultimately losing time in reaching my destination.
The reality?...we all get sidetracked sometimes. What do we do when it happens? Just this week, for example, I missed publishing this post on Tuesday as I have been doing weekly all year. You're seeing this post become available on Friday, three days later than usual. How do I deal with that? Maybe your'e thinking, "That's no big deal." But, for some of us, just getting off track on even a little thing in life can cause our rhythms to be upset and we end up spiraling in some way. This could be simple and short-lived in something as basic as a diet, or something as serious and impactful as an addiction. So, here are a few principles I've learned that you may find helpful to recalculate your route if you get side-tracked.
There is a better way. It is to think intentionally, to look at things realistically and to give yourself permission to keep going without expectations that are irrational for yourself.
And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.
The godly may trip seven times, but they will get up again. But one disaster is enough to overthrow the wicked.
How have you had to recalculate your course when sidetracked? What unhelpful thinking are you most vulnerable to? Are there strategies you can share to help others in this situation? Share in the comments and like our posts. We are so happy you are engaging in our community.
With over forty years of ministry experience, Randy Kinnick continues to live a life of pursuing the purpose for which he was created. Whether teaching God's Word to adults, coaching youth and young adults in finding their purpose, or caring for the hurting and abused in Southeast Asia, the adventure has taken him around the world in ways he could have never dreamed. The adventure continues!