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When People Investments Don’t Pay Dividends: How Do You Choose Who To Invest In?


We are all given the same number of minutes in an hour, the same number of hours in a day, and the same number of days in a year. As time marches on, we face daily decisions in what to do with our time. Questions like: will I take a trip, will I work, will I spend time with a friend are all significant aspects of what we choose to do with out time. Yet, what is the best use of our time? Another way of asking that would be how do we invest our time to reap eternal dividends?

There are two things on earth that will not pass away; God’s word and people. So, as believers, we partner with God and sow God’s word into people for lasting life change catalyzed by the Holy Spirit. Our task, then, is to invest into people; helping them become more and more like Christ.

Yet, what do we do when our eternal investments in people don’t pan out? What can be done about the person that you spend time with yet does not respond to God or the gospel? Ironically, Jesus faced this situation as he chose his core group of leaders who assisted him with his earthly ministry. One of them, Judas (who had been with Jesus for about three years), would eventually betray him and fulfill what the scriptures had spoken concerning him. Judas was more than an investment that didn’t pan out, he became an enemy to Jesus; marking and mocking his betrayal with a kiss.

A well known missions agency has, or once had, a ministry strategy of reaching the 1% of students on university campuses all over the world. The idea behind this strategy is that by reaching the leaders of leaders, you further the reach of the gospel. Yet, do we really choose who to invest in?  And, do we know who a future leader will truly be? The promise of leadership always looks good in the natural, but is much more difficult to discern in the spiritual. In contrast, do we make it our aim to love and sow into all people who God has placed in our life?

From scripture, It is interesting that Jesus did not choose leaders who were prominent in society.  Instead he chose normal guys, the regulars.  And, even one of these he chose would betray him (Jesus knew this, for scripture said this would happen).

So who do we spend our time with? Are we supposed to prioritize our people investments? We do in one sense because even within the circle of broad disciples there were the 3 (Peter, James, John), the 12, and the 70. Yet this does not mean that we give up on others. Instead, we give God’s word away freely entrusting that God’s grace will take effect producing fruit and lasting life change.

Will people investments always pay dividends?  No. There will always be ‘Peters’ in our ministry and there will always be ‘Judas” However, this does not dissuad us from sowing into all those who God has put in our path.  We must trust in the power of the Gospel, and believe in the transforming effect of God’s grace. Through we recognize that not all people we spend time with will bear fruit for Christ (some will never trust Christ, others will give up on life in Christ), nonetheless, we freely give, for freely we have received.

Questions to think about:

  1. How do you determine who you will spiritually invest in?
  2. Thinking about the example of Jesus with Judas, Should we expect 100% success when it comes to our investment with people?
  3. What are some things we can do to guard against discouragement when people investments don’t work out?
  4. What does success look like when it comes to investing in others?
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