No it’s not insurance, property or other financial instruments. There are already a lot of agents going around talking about those, month in and month out. I would like to draw your attention to a different kind of investment. An investment in which returns cannot be measured by money. An investment that will not only change you, but also the world around you. The results of which would impact you and your descendants in the future.
This great investment I’m talking about are People. I’m inviting you to invest not just on financial instruments or businesses but, most of all, on people.
Why invest on people? Because they shape the world. We are where we are now because of people. Take away one individual and the society he or she belongs to instantly changes in one degree or another. It only takes one person to spark a revolution. It only takes one individual’s defiant actions to incite rebellion. Before laws are ratified, they have to be approved by lawmakers, one person at a time. A country earns its GDP not by its natural resources alone, but by each citizen deciding to contribute in various ways.
In the opposite end of the pole, crimes begin with one person and can infect groups of people. Drug addicts, rapists and thieves were once recruited by one individual and influenced by one criminal after another. Genocides are results of only a handful of people in its core with the same passion for murder. Before wars are waged, a small group of people had to decide to pursue it before it goes full scale. Before the recession in 2008, there were a few people who could’ve prevented it years before but decided to do nothing instead.
Each country is shaped by the character of every citizen, each family by every kindred, each church by every member, each company by every employee— and these groups then impact society by the decisions they make or do not make. Before any group creates an impact, there were people, individuals, who had to make the decision to speak up or do nothing.
And so here lies what will probably be your greatest investment in life— one that will outlive you and one that you would be remembered by. Who are these people who need our help? How do we help them and reach them out?
I’m not saying that you reach out to hardened criminals. You also don’t have be a missionary, unless that’s what you’re called to do.
You don’t have to quit your job, shave your head, wear a robe and live in a cave. It doesn’t have to be that drastic. We all have our network of people: family, friends, neighbors, acquaintances, co-workers, etc.
We begin with them.
Review your network of people and ask yourself, “Who needs help? Who is hurting? Who is devastated? Who is ignored? Who is oppressed?”. Then ask, “How can I help? How can I be a blessing to this life? Is there anything in my life right now that I can afford to give up to turn things around for this person? Do I have certain skills that I can personally teach regularly to a certain person that would make a difference in his or her future?”.
It would also help to ask why you’ve decided to do this in the first place. Defining your purpose for this will save you and others a lot of wasted time. If you’re doing this because you’re running for public office or to manipulate a person into doing something, it will not achieve our desired results. People will know what you’re made of sooner or later. They will take what you’ll give, but will walk away unchanged.
And what do we teach them? It is a natural and powerful instinct to listen attentively to those whom we owe something to. And once you’ve began helping someone, he or she will start to listen to what you have to say too.
We Christians teach them about Jesus Christ in whom they will find the power to carry on with life. For us, only God can make a difference.
If you’re not a Christian, I propose that you teach them what you think this world can live without. (Having said that, I assume that you’re a good person since you’ve read this far and that you desire to see good increase in the world). Teach them to be helpful and good to others. Persuade them that they have this fortune and friendship from you so they can pay the act of kindness forward to the next person in the future.
When we do this, we would have already changed future world events. Events that would not have otherwise occurred without you.
When you get your answers to the questions we asked a few paragraphs above, start fleshing them up. Only you can find ways to make your mission a reality. It would be even nicer to do it with like-minded individuals. This is why I am a part of a church ( although I’m an introvert by heart). There, I get more opportunities to help other people in bigger ways. And when I do step in to help a person or persons, I often do it with my wife. Investing in people and going through all the difficulties with friends or a special someone strengthens relationships, it clarifies your purpose for living and it deepens your character.
Once you find that person or persons that you’ve decided to help out, be patient. Don’t expect this to be a bed of roses. Dealing with people is always messy, its probably why many stay away from it.
And then be consistent. Don’t pour all that you’ve got in one instant. It will exhaust you and burn you out. Your kind and loving presence over the months and years is more important than one extravagant occasion. Only you know the right mix of time, talents, skills, and money that you will invest to a certain individual. No matter how small or simple the acts are, I believe it will make a great and lasting impact if done carefully and consistently. What matters is that you’re there for the less fortunate to support them.
Seeing a person get out of the pit that he or she was in and knowing that you were a part of it is an experience that no words can describe. It changes you from the inside-out. It brings fulfillment that is unparalleled. How much more if, one day, you would find out that your kids or nieces and nephews received an act of kindness that you sowed decades before? Wouldn’t it be satisfying to know that you have contributed to make the world a better place?
And if you’re a Christian, what joy it would be to see that the Lord has healed a life through you? And that His grace and mercy is traced to your very hands? How much more fulfilling would that be compared to your money in the bank or the properties that you’ve acquired, none of which could directly change lives?
This very article that you’re reading was not done single-handedly. It is a result of a series of acts in the past two decades by people who decided to invest in me.
I am who I am today because there were people in my life who chose to speak words of life to me instead of just letting me be. I am confidently going through life now because there were people who went out of their way to preach the gospel, to write a helpful book, to speak words of encouragement, to share their lives, to give gifts or to simply listen. Not all of them know that they have helped me. This is an example of the impact investing in people can make.
The world is awash with people who preach and practice evil and apathy. The world events just last month confirms that: an elementary school massacre in the USA; a young lady gang-raped and left for dead in India… And everyday, children are abused all over the globe, marriages are falling apart, teens are growing up without parents…
Do we like the world we’re living in now? Do we have to wait for the time when evil gets its way without any resistance? Are we creating a world that is even more numb to poverty, suffering, oppression, human rights violations and immorality?
We need to stand up for all that is good unashamedly. We need to have the courage to shine a light in the darkness in our little ways.
And it all begins with one life.