We recently had a tragedy in our town. An 8 year-old boy named Xander was killed in an accident. We are friends with this family, they have 3 kids the same ages as ours, and our kids go to school together, so this loss hit really close to home.
We went to the memorial for Xander which was beautifully done. He was an incredible kid and influenced many people in his short 8 years. Through all the stories told and the videos we saw, you could really tell that Xander was the light of the world. He let the love of Christ shine through him wherever he went and he impacted many. The testimonies given about him at the memorial were amazing. He had tremendous character and influence for an 8 year old.
Magnets were given out for people to put on their cars to remember Xander. The magnets have his name and this slogan:
“Loved People, Lived for Jesus”
I told my daughter Hazel after the memorial that if they say that about me at my memorial I’ll know I have lived a good life. Way to go Xander, you did well, little man!
Funerals always cause me to rethink my life, how I am living, and how I want to be remembered.
So when Jesus says, “Rethink your life in light of this new reality that the Kingdom of God is now available," one of the things we need to rethink is what we are investing in. More specifically, where are we investing our time and emotional energy?
I see those around me investing in four major categories: Stuff, themselves, pets, or people.
Stuff: real estate, toys, gear, fashion, technology, etc.
Pets seems to be a growing category of where people invest, specifically in dogs.
People: Even though we might not think about people as an "investment", we naturally understand our need for relationships and being loved. People consume a lot of our time and energy.
Now I don't know about you, but one thing I have had a hard time coming to terms with is the limited amount of resources I have to invest. I have understood it money-wise in relation to my limits with finances, but my limited time and emotional energy has been a tough learning curve for me. The more responsibilities that I have gained as a father of three has caused me to come to terms with the fact that there is only so much of me to go around. With work, my marriage, and my kids, there is not much left.
I haven’t seen any research on this, but I would say that 90% of a man’s emotional energy at my stage of life with a young family goes into those three things: Work, marriage, and kids. For some it might be as low as 80% and for some it’s 100%, but the reality is that after that, there isn’t much left.
Let’s go with 80% for a case study. Imagine a young dad, let’s call him Joe, is to make the Kingdom of God a priority in his life and live within that kingdom by submitting his own kingdom to it. Now lets just assume that Joe is doing that with his first 80%. He understands that no matter the work God has given him, he is a Jesus follower and Kingdom representative in that place and he is working hard to steward his time and talent as well as serve and love those around him. He also has this Kingdom perspective with his marriage and with his kids. But how should Joe invest this last 20% of time and emotional energy?
Let’s say Joe has a hobby that is healthy and is a really great way for him invest in himself and get re-charged. Some hobbies could take up the entire 20%, but let’s say it takes 5% in this example.
Then there are Joe’s responsibilities around the house, maintenance on the cars, helping take care of the pets, maintaining a family budget, etc, etc... which will take up at least another 5%.
So now we are down to 10% left.
We will talk about this next week when we look at the value of ownership in America, but the more he owns, the more emotional energy that will take from him which results from the natural burden of ownership. So the more stuff he owns, that 10% will get eaten up.
The more consuming the hobby or if there are multiple hobbies, then that will take up some of that 10%.
But what about people? What about serving, blessing, and investing in others? Jesus said, “They will know you are my disciples by your love." The greatest commandment is to love God and then love others like we love ourselves. Over and over again Jesus talks about dying and giving up our lives in order to really live.
As followers of Jesus that are committed to living in the Kingdom of God and helping to bring it on earth as it is in heaven, shouldn’t we be intentional about how we are investing our time and emotional energy into God’s most precious creation, human beings?
For some of you, maybe your workplace is the primary place you invest in people and it is the primary thing you do while at work so you need that 20% to re-charge. Completely valid! Or maybe you're an introvert and you need that 20% of emotional energy to be away from people so you have enough in the tank for the 80%. Completely valid! Or maybe this is a season for you to be investing in yourself and pursuing healing and wholeness through counseling, inner-healing prayer, or spiritual direction so that you have more capacity within your heart and soul to love and invest in others. Completely valid! On this note, both Jamie and I went through a season of counseling and pursuing healing and wholeness recently that was transformational for both of us. It was expensive and an investment, and it was painful, but we are different people as a result and I would say that we now have more room to love and care for others.
Obviously, this isn't black and white and each of our situations are different. But no matter how the percentages break down in your own life, do you view people as an investment and do you make investing in people a priority?
Jesus was very strategic about investing most of his time and energy into people and he was also strategic about who he invested in. He had the 72, the 12, and the 3. He didn’t neglect the masses, but he strategically invested his time and emotional energy.
Let's all learn from Xander's example. When it comes to the end and our loved ones are on the stage celebrating our lives, what will they say? What will we have invested the majority of our time and energy into?
Similar to Xander, I hope the magnets at my memorial read:
“Mark Thrash: Loved God, Invested in People”
Some experiments for this week:
Do an emotional energy audit- List out all of the things you are investing emotional energy into- people, stuff, tasks, etc. When you are done, sit with the Lord and discuss this list.
Do a mind map of all of your spheres of influence- list out all of the people you have relationship with in those spheres. When you are done, spend some time praying over the list and asking God to reveal to you if there is anybody he would like you to invest in further.