in·vest/ɪnˈvɛst/ Show Spelled [in-vest]
1. to put (money) to use, by purchase or expenditure, in something offering potential profitable returns, as interest, income, or appreciation in value.
2. to make use of for future benefits or advantages <invested her time wisely>
I took my place in the room sitting among a handful of young men who were eager to learn from a "seasoned" man of God. I was excited to learn and thought, "He must be doing something right because his newly decorated and furnished office furniture cost more than the car that I was driving."
He was preparing to explain his philosophy of ministry to people and how we could be successful in our ministries if we adopted his way of doing things.
He started out by explaining an 80 / 20 principle. Spend 20% of your time with 80% of the people and those 20% of the 80% who were on board with your way of doing things you should "Invest" 80% of your time. He then explained that there were so many free loaders who just went church to church you should not invest time with those people.
"Keep your distance of people until you are sure that they will do what you are asking of them and they will help you and then invest in them."
"Some people are not worth the time, and if they are not going to give back to our ministry in service or tithes, we need to let the catholic charities help them. We all have jobs fellas and if you like getting paid we need to re-evaluate where our focus is."
"I am not interested in attracting "Low quality" people in this church, so lets be kind to them when they come and certainly show them love, but we need to conserve our energy and time for good caliber and high quality people."
"If we cultivate the trashy people, we are going to have a trashy church."
"The Holy Spirit cannot work with a circus full of retards walking around on the front pew." ( This was in a impromptu staff meeting after a family new to church walked in and out of the service from the front row)
I wrote most of these statements down during those meetings and I would go sit in my office afterwards and just look at those words on my note pad and I could not help but feel very sad.
Was this it?
The "real ministry" of Jesus was an investment plan?
That word is used quite a bit in the church culture and you will not go very long before you hear a statement like, "Invest in people" or "Invest in the bus ministry" or "Invest in missions".
You will be encouraged to invest in activity and service and invest your time and your energy into people and places.
I would see people come through the doors who had NOTHING to give and I would see them passed along the receiving line to the one man on the staff who dealt with "those kind" of people.
I would hear people verbally shouted at and shredded to pieces for spending too much effort and time with non-essential people in the church and had to ask the question, "Who or what determines a persons value?"
When a church members tithing record is checked before they receive financial assistance can you see it as anything other than wrong?
James seemed to have asked the same question years before.
"My brethren, have not the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory, with respect of persons.
For if there come unto your assembly a man with a gold ring, in goodly apparel, and there come in also a poor man in vile raiment; And ye have respect to him that weareth the gay clothing, and say unto him, Sit thou here in a good place; and say to the poor, Stand thou there, or sit here under my footstool: Are ye not then partial in yourselves, and are become judges of evil thoughts?" ~ James 2:1-4
I would be asked to see to it that "Quality looking" visitors received follow up visits by engaging and charismatic members of the staff and the lower interest people were blessed to get a visit from the staff that severely lacked people skills. It was amazing how that worked out each week.
It sounds like such a good word, until you look at what it means, because what it means is exactly what it is.
You "Invest" into something with the intent of being able to get something back as a result of that investment.
You "invest" in people so that they will add in to the plan, goal, or agenda that you are trying to be responsible for.
Was this truly the mindset of Jesus?
Invest in those who will do things for you.
Genuine compassion has a price?
"Compassion does not pay the electric bill".
It sounds right for a corporation mindset and it is a good action plan for a BUSINESS but not for an organism.
I say all of that to say that during these meetings, and being a part of these conversations I believe that Father was waking me up to Him.
It was during one of these meetings that I remember writing at the bottom of my legal pad, "I CHOOSE TO NO LONGER INVEST IN PEOPLE."
God did not "Invest" in me and God did not "Invest" in you either.
God loved us knowing that we would not love him back!
"As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one: There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God. They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one." ~ Romans 3:10-12
Paul even hits the word "Unprofitable"!
God gave His son to us without expectation!
Doesn't He know that you only invest in people that can do back for you, your plan, or agenda? I am so very thankful that He does not invest in people, but rather that He chooses to simply SPEND into people.
"For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. For scarcely for a righteous man will one die: yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die. But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him. For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life." ~ Romans 5:6-10
God must not have graduated from a Bible college because this plan for expanding the Kingdom through ministry seems so scandalous. Give out to people who don't deserve it and may not even ever pay you back?
"For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved." ~ John 3:16-17
Then you are smacked with the reality that ministry has NOTHING to do with investing in people, but everything to do with extending love and hope to everyone regardless if they accept it or are grateful for it. It matters not if they provide support to your ministry or agenda and program because it should never be yours in the first place. Either God has called you to get your hands dirty with His sheep and He provides or you work for the one who is willing to pay you the most. Ministry has everything to do with extending what will not be appreciated all the time and expecting nothing in return.
This way of thinking does not build a nice building or a large campus or get your name on the whose who list of Christian colleges and universities but it is how Jesus showed us that ministry should look like.
Heal 10 lepers knowing that not all of them will stop and thank you. Did Jesus experience a poor rate of return? If He had "Invested" He would have, but He does not "Invest". Instead He chooses to SPEND and to BE SPENT.
"Give to him that asketh thee, and from him that would borrow of thee turn not thou away.
Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy. But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.
For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? do not even the publicans the same? And if ye salute your brethren only, what do ye more than others? do not even the publicans so?" ~ Matthew 5:42-47
"Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world." ~ James 1:27
Why did James list these two groups of people in this passage? I believe he was pointing out that true religion is serving people who could never give back to you. It is serving people regardless if they can help you back or not.
I love how Paul defines ministry.
"And I will very gladly spend and be spent for you; though the more abundantly I love you, the less I be loved." ~ 2 Corinthians 12:15
I will gladly spend myself and all I have for you, even though it seems that the more I love you, the less you love me.
Who has Father placed in your path today?
Who do you know that needs hope and love?
Today I would like to challenge you to ask Father to place a name or names on your heart to just send a simple text that reads something like this, "Hey, I was just thinking about you and I love you. Can I call you in bit?"
It may be the very thing that makes all the difference in the world to another person.
Don't be afraid to spend and be spent for others.
God's economy is not about investing in people for hopes of a good rate of return, rather it is built on reckless spending!!!
Climbing with you,