The Best Bad-Economy Investment

March 19, 2012

You know what’s worse than anything in a bad economy?

Investments.

Investments don’t go anywhere in a bad economy.  That’s what frustrates people more than almost anything, I think.  My wife and I have a small nest egg that we started.  Guess what it’s done?  Lost money.  Even the best mutual fund managers can’t figure out how to make good investments in a bad economy.  These are people who are supposed to know how to make money, and they can’t do it!  Right now, investing seems about as big a crock as insurance.  You’ve probably made a bad investment or two as well.

On the other hand, the world loves visionaries, entrepreneurs, and go-getters.  Those are the people who history books are written about, who changed the world, who get the admiration of millions of people.

And you know what each of those people needed?  Investors.

Turns out, I’ve got a fail-safe investment that anyone can get a return on, even in the worst economy.

Behind Every Great Person Is a Savvy Investor

Think about any hero you admire, anyone you’d like to read a book about or have a beer with.  Someone who impacted history, or your life, or made the world a better place.

You may think of Steve Jobs or Martin Luther, C.S. Lewis or Oprah Winfrey, President Obama or George Orwell or Mother Teresa.  Anyone at all.

None of those people just popped out of thin air.

Each of them had at least one investor.  Not just someone who spent money on them, but someone who helped make those people who they are.

Who Made These People?

Can you tell me who taught Martin Luther to read and interpret his Bible?  Do you know who sparked Steve Jobs’ interest in electronics?  Who taught C.S. Lewis how to write?  Who taught Dietrich Bonhoffer about compassion when everyone else was preaching hate?  Who taught C.H. Spurgeon how to preach?  Who taught Mark Twain how to find humor in unhumorous situations?  Who taught Dr. Salk about medicine, and who taught Einstein about physics?

You probably don’t know.  And neither do I.  It may not even be possible to know who those people were.  But those people, the invisible, unknown people are the investors.  They are the people that history is made of.

They cared enough to teach, to share, to encourage someone else.  They invested in someone else.  They didn’t know if their investment would make a return.  Turns out, their investments changed the world.  They made smart investments.

The best part is, even if their investments had not returned anything, they would not have cost anything either.

Who Are You Investing In?

The world as we know it would not exist without investors.  Not just investors of money, but more importantly, investors of people.  All the great men and women of the world would have stayed small and un-great if someone had not taught them, encouraged them, helped them.  You had a lot of investors.  Who invested in you?  Who helped make you who you are today?  Did their investment bring a return?

Maybe even more importantly, who are you investing in?  Isn’t there anyone you care about enough to share some knowledge or encouragement?  You don’t even have to go anywhere to find someone.  That someone could be in your home, or the next cubicle, or reaching for the same box of cereal that you’re reaching for.  You never know what kind of a return it’s going to bring.

We may all lose our shirts in our financial investments.  I may retire, completely destitute.  But investing in people never leaves you broke.

Simple question today…or maybe not.  Tell us about one person who made a big investment in you.  And bonus question!  Who are you investing in today?

17 responses to The Best Bad-Economy Investment

  1. Hey, were you in my church yesterday? Sounds like you heard the pastor’s message!

    Great post … the problem is our competitive nature, which makes us view everyone as a possible threat to our success.

    • Yes! It’s like The Apprentice – I watch Celebrity Apprentice on Sunday nights, and they are constantly torn between helping each other win and looking out for their own interests, which leads to a lot of entertaining board room drama.

    • In the Kingdom if we don’t want the success of others, we are not going to achieve our own destiny.

      I went to a church that had a gifted evangelist. EVERY TIME he preached (about once a year) many came to Christ – 100 or more. They never used him for anything else. We had the same boring How Was Your Crappy Week? sermon for the other 50 weeks a year by the regular pastor. My friend is still there submitting to authority. Sad.

  2. I can think of dozens of people who have invested in me… my parents, teachers, my college dorm mates who prayed for me to become a believer, small group leaders, pastors, even authors whose books inspired me. Ultimately, it is God who invests in each of us.

    To pick one person is hard, but since you asked… my husband is amazingly encouraging. He believes in me even when I think I’m failing. He gives me the freedom to chase my dreams. I hope he gets a great return on his investment!

    In turn, I have invested heavily in my husband, kids, my students, and my friends. God brings people into my life for a season. For a time they become the focus of my prayers, counsel, and hard-learned lessons (and many posts on my blog!). It’s hard, emotional, and draining, but I find incredible joy in the middle of it all, working hand in hand with God.

    • I think you probably can’t have a good marriage without investing in your spouse, and I suspect that the most happily married couples have the most invested in one another. They have a big stake in the well being of the other.

  3. Great post!

    My mother-in-law influenced me greatly. She passed away in 2010, but the fifteen years I knew her here on earth, was definitely life changing. She was giving, generous, and loving.

    I’m currently investing in a group of pre-teen/teen girls at my church. We hold Sunday night Bible studies, and we visit the local nursing home. I also encourage them to volunteer at our Food Pantry.

    For the past three years, I’ve organized Girl Conferences at my church, inviting local churches to participate. In 2011, we had over 120 girls! We were very excited. It’s the ripple effect! You never know how far it will go once a ‘good thing’ gets started. (Well, one day I’ll know…in heaven…and that’ll be a glorious day.)

    Thanks again for post. Investing in others is really the only true reward we have here on earth.

  4. Too many people to list have invested in me–parents, in-laws, Bible study leaders, leaders in a women’s Bible study, my kid’s art teacher when we were living in Illinois.

    I am investing in some kids whose parents are taking an ESL class on Wednesday nights. My husband and I are investing in a few young men in our church. I would like to spend time with people in my neighborhood, but the kids are keeping us very busy.

  5. Great topic. There have been people who invested in me for the wrong reasons. They wanted some sort of return on their investment. There were teachers that wanted me to go to college, and parents who wanted me to stay out of jail, and college professors and colleges that wanted to say how successful I was in business… the worst was pastors that wanted my success to be a part of their flock. I gave a testimony once about something that happened an another church, and my pastor was furious with me. Oh well.

    The biggest investors in my life right now are my pastor, my brother and his pastor. They are fathers to me. I talk to one of more of them every day of the week.

    Because relationship is what makes the Kingdom grow, I also have peers that I love to be with. We have lunch every other month to hang out, and the in between months we have lunch with the teachers at our school. We bring our wives to that. It is an investment in relationship.

    And finally I have some young married men that I believe can be greater than I am in life, and in the Kingdom of God. I take them out to breakfast 6 times a year, and we fill in with phone calls and hallways chats after church.

    My goal in life is simply to do what I see the Father doing. I love when others succeed, and like it even better when they never mention my name. :)

    A tip on the markets. I sell when they say “we had a record day,” and I bought like crazy when we were in the worst of the recession. I love to hear “all time low” that is when I buy. I made 450% on my investments since the recession. It is a lot of work to move them around, but it can be worth it.

  6. I’m investing in Apple and making some good money. I’m also investing in my children. I think the investors of those you mentioned in the post were parents, as well. I know our government wants to take over the responsibility of raising our children, but let’s give parents some credit. I’m guessing it was parents that invested time, energy, patience, money, education, and, most of all, love in those people you so admire. :)

  7. I read once (can’t remember where) in a mens ministry book that men need 3 people in their lives to be successful. They need a mentor, someone to look up to. To ask questions of. They need someone as a peer. Someone who can say “Me, too.” I’m right there with you. And, they need someone to be a mentor to. Someone to look up to them and ask them questions. -I would amend that to include women as well.

    Also with any investment, no matter how sound, there is risk. It’s that risk that makes the payout worth it. Risk a little get a little, risk a lot….

  8. An old school friend and her husband invested in me, long after we had left school. I am now investing in my very young children, as they are so dependent and vulnerable at the moment.

    Thanks for a great post.

  9. Challenging post.

    Right now my supervisor at work is really pouring into and investing in me. Very encouraging to have that support.

    I’m trying to invest in a few friends who’ve started blogging and want help navigating the ins and outs. I’m also in a small group with a bunch of guys that is equal parts investment and being invested in.

  10. I work hard every day to try to be a Warren Buffet type investor in my wife and children.

  11. Another good post. Thanks.