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Let him who is taught the word share in all good things with him who teaches. Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap. For he who sows to his flesh will of the flesh reap corruption, but he who sows to the Spirit will of the Spirit reap everlasting life. And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart. Galatians 6:6-10

Christian leadership requires investment. God invested His most valuable asset, Himself, in what seemed to other “gods” to be worthless market (the human life) and consequently gained eternal life of untold numbers of millions of new “children.” God believes in eternal investment and exponential multiplication: He created it!

A Christian leader must understand this principle of investment, especially with regard to the stewardship of God’s time, talent and treasure left within his or her control or influence. Consider Jesus’ parable of the talents: The Master (God) left talents with three of his servants, two of whom invested their five and two talents, respectively, and both doubled the value of their investment. The third one buried his one talent and did nothing for fear of losing his only talent. Upon the master’s return, the “investing” servants are praised and the fearful servant is rebuked, not only losing the one talent he had buried, but also being cast into “outer darkness.” Matthew 25:14-30.

A Christian leader realizes the importance of being good stewards of their God-given abilities, not just their money. They do not waste opportunities to develop their abilities. They learn early what their strengths and weaknesses are, and invest their time using their strong abilities and strengthening their weaknesses for their family, church, business or community. God called the servant who “hid” his talent a “wicked and lazy servant.” Matthew 25:26. Are we hiding our abilities out of laziness, or self-centeredness? Or are we aiming for excellence in the use of our abilities, not for ourselves, but for the glory of He who gave us these abilities to use in the first place?

Most importantly, like Jesus, Christian leaders need to invest in people. It has been said that “without a successor there is no success.” From the beginning Jesus had succession in mind: “Come, follow Me, I will make you fishers of men.” Matthew 4:19, Luke 5:10. The prayerful, watchful and diligent preparation of His future leaders was at the top of His agenda, for he knew that people empowered by God are the key to sustainable renewal.

In the words of Leighton Ford: “[Jesus] was not aiming to pick a crown prince, but to create a successor generation. So he picked, named and developed his inner core and let them share the center of his life. When the time came for Him to leave, he did not need to put in a crash course of leadership development—the curriculum had already been taught for three years in a living classroom.”

How Jesus invested in people is just as important as the fact that He did so. First, He allowed them to fail and be reinstated through honest confession and forgiveness. In this way, He strengthened Peter’s love and Thomas’ faith after Peter had denied Him and Thomas failed to believe in His resurrection. Second, Jesus trusted His followers to go through many trial and error processes to learn His lessons. So he gave Peter, James and John multiple occasions to keep watch with Him and pray, even as they insisted on sleeping. Third, He invested in people by praying for them: “I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word.” John 17:20; “Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift you like wheat. But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers.” Luke 22:31-32. Fourth, Jesus allowed for dissent and new “pathfinders” like his calling of Paul to His mission to the Gentiles. Fifth, Jesus “invested” His Spirit in them: “Peace be with you! As the Father sent Me, I am sending you; receive the Holy Spirit.” John 20:19-23.

The principle of investment says that if you invest or give something of yourself, you receive it back many times. If you invest friendship, you will yield friends. If you invest bitterness, you will yield cynicism. Reflect for a moment on whether you are an “investor” or a poor steward. What time, talent and treasure do you have? Are you investing it or burying it?

Samuel B. Casey

– This article comes from AI’s “No Higher Calling,” a devotional for lawyers.