What's Your Rate of Return?
We've just come through tax season, and for the first time ever I had to pay the tax man. It was a daunting thing for me, my normal experience has been to receive a big fat cheque from the government and run laughing all the way to the bank. But when it came down to it, it was because of the investment strategy that we'd been using that required us to pay the government rather than expect a return.
It seems like for most of the year, things run pretty smoothly, but then, right around Christmas the conversations start turning towards investments. One of the questions that inevitably comes up is: What's your rate of return?
I've been thinking about this question in the light of making the move to my new job with Young Life. For those of you that don't know, I'll be finishing my work here at the Church of Christ as of June 1st. I'm going to be working as a missionary here in Grande Prairie with Young Life. Young Life is brand new to Grande Prairie, and I and one other staff member (Pete van Genne) will be building a ministry to High School students who are outside of a relationship with Christ.
The largest part of my work with Young Life will be spending time with High School students, building relationships with them and offering my time and my life as an investment in them. My ultimate goal is to show them Jesus, but the major work I'll be doing is in hanging out with them. We will go into the High Schools here in Grande Prairie, into the community sports leagues, into the skate parks and basketball courts, and into the places where High School students live and we will invest ourselves in the lives of the students. You know, someone (actually a couple of people) did this for me when I was growing up, and it was very valuable to me.
When I was in Junior High, my mom couldn't drive me to hockey practice one night, and was talking about this with a woman she worked with. It turned out this woman had a husband who wasn't busy that night and she said that she would send him to drive me. His name was Roy, and he'd be picking me up in a few minutes.
Roy drove around in a beat up Ford Bronco SUV. He drove me to hockey practice, and then came inside and did the unthinkable. He sat down and watched. He stayed the whole time in fact. And then he drove me home. But before I got out of the truck, he asked when the next game or practice was, and then said he'd be back to drive me to that. Over the next little while, Roy picked me up for every practice and every game, regardless of whether my mom was working or not, even regardless of whether my mom was coming to watch me or not. It was quite the deal.
Eventually Roy got bored of sitting in the stands, and one night he brought a pair of skates with him. He talked to the coaches, and before I knew it he was on the ice teaching himself how to skate. He couldn't skate worth a lick at the time, but he taught himself as I practiced a few feet away with my team. A short while after that, Roy started standing behind the bench with us at games, helping coach and shift lines and give a few tips here and there about things we were missing on the ice. Roy was no longer just driving me to hockey, he was my coach.
Roy made a tremendous impact on my life. He didn't do anything special or spectacular. He spent time with me. You know, Roy wasn't even a Christian, at least not as far as I know. He just spent time with a kid that needed someone to spend time with him. Little did I realize though that Roy was investing his life in me. During our conversations to and from hockey, we would chat about life, and relationship, and how the world works, and what kind of people make it in life. We chatted about everything, and I learned a lot from Roy. A few years later I'm now in a position where I'm wondering how in the world to reach out to High School students with the love of Jesus, so that they can know just how much God loves them and wants to be in their lives. And more and more as I pray, I'm hearing God say to me, “Be like Roy.”
John 15:9-12 put it this way: "As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. If you obey my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have obeyed my Father's commands and remain in his love. I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you.”
When we get involved in the lives around us we offer our love to them. When we ofer our love to those around we make a significant investment in their life. When we invest in the lives around us we reap returns that are far beyond what we put into them. And they will know we are Christians by our love.
What rate of return are you getting these days? Whose lives are you investing yours into? It may seem like your not doing very much by hanging out with one kid every now and then, or with one friend that doesn't know Jesus, but the reality is that you are making an investment in eternity. And the return on that is priceless.
There are many ways to invest yourself in the lives of those around, and not all of them have to do with your money. There's a lot going on in our city and in our church community. See your friendly neighbourhood ministry leader for information about how you can invest in eternity. And if you'd like more information on the ministry of Young Life, please contact me directly or through the church office. Blessings on you and your investments.