–April of 2003
Evaluating My Relationship Portfolio
People who work closely with the stock market have been carefully evaluating their investments over the last few years. They want a balanced portfolio that will yield both short-term and long-terms gains. I have been evaluating my investments as well. Not those in the stock market, but those I make in peoples lives. I want to make sure I’m investing in those relationships that matter most. (For those who are following, this is my third New Year’s Resolution.)
Life makes tremendous demands on our time and energy. If we aren’t extremely careful, we will invest a significant amount of time in things that mean the least to us and have the smallest impact for long-term good. At age 46, I’m realizing how quickly time is slipping away and how few years I have left to invest the talents God has given me. That forces me to be more discriminating in how I invest my time and in whom I invest it.
First of all I want to invest my time and energy in those people who want the investment I can make in them. People who are passionate about improvement, have a teachable spirit, and have allowed me to develop the kind of relationship with them that makes it possible for me to be a blessing. To those that are older, I want to be a source of consolation in loneliness, strength in weakness and encouragement in the dark moments of life. To those that are younger, I want to be what Paul was to Timothy and Barnabas was to John Mark. To those that are my peers, I want to be a “friend that sticketh closer than a brother”.
I also want to invest in my larger family. I want to be a good son, son-in-law, brother and uncle. I want to make a serious contribution to the well being of each member of my family. It’s so easy to take them for granted or just make them a part of holidays and funerals. I want to give a listening ear, a word of encouragement, a warm embrace and any other means of support available to me to give. This will take time, but it is time I want to give!
A large part of the stewardship of my time will be given to my sons. I’m their father, and I refuse to neglect that role. They will have my time, my heart, my prayers, my counsel, my support, and my ear. I will proof term papers, talk sports, or sit on the edge of the bed and talk half the night if it builds bridges and makes them better. I’ll teach, preach and nag (if necessary) until certain values and traits are theirs. I’ll see to it that they educate their minds, discipline their bodies, value hard work, love their country, respect their elders, act with manners, and treat their mother like a queen (or face the consequences). This will require and has required a huge amount of time, but I’m going to give it to them. They’re mine, they deserve my best, and I will not let them down.
A special portion of my time will go to my wife. Ruth and I have shared so much life in the past 24 years of marriage. We’ve experienced an abundance of love and happiness. Together we’ve poured an unbelievable amount of time into the lives of our children and plan to continue doing so until God calls us home. Together we have pastored, promoted, and presided over various aspects of God’s work. We have shared sorrow, stress, and misunderstandings. We haven’t always agreed, but we’ve always been committed to loving and going on. Ruth has allowed me to invest a huge amount of time in others without complaint. Yet, I want to invest more of myself in her– more quality time. I want to invest in our marriage, so we are planning to attend a marriage seminar. I want her life to be filled with more bright spots, so I’m going to invest in more special moments. I want a greater degree of “soul connection,” so I’m going to invest in more time to listen and pray with her. Our relationship matters and I want my commitment to it to reflect its importance.
Sooner than I realize, I will answer to God for my stewardship. When I report on my investment in people, I want to hear him say, “Well done, good and faithful servant.”