The Best Return On Investment

“Risking investment with no regard for reward is the ultimate currency to which we’re called.
Counter-intuitive as it is to this world, we are called to sow the seeds and not count the harvest. 
Return on investment might be a big deal. 
But the investment itself turns out to be the biggest deal.” 


My wife is no financial guru, but Theresa gets investing. She also writes entries 3-4 days a week only to file them away to her personal Google docs. As I passed one year in a new job/career/industry, she took the concept of ROI to a deeper level than most financial experts will throughout their entire career. I told her it’s too good not to share…

Return on investment is a big deal. A big deal for people in the financial world, that is. 

To be honest, I was never overly interested in the concept. I heard the term ROI thrown around a little more in the past year as my husband transitioned into the financial services field. But that field was about as far as I thought the concept should travel. It only mattered for money, I supposed. 

One Monday morning when my husband returned to the world of ROI’s, I threw my three boys’ dishes from breakfast in the sink and changed up our painfully predictable routine. Instead of scrubbing a pan, clearing plates, and wiping down counters, I grabbed a plastic school bus and called for a four-person parade. Each boy scrambled to his own vehicle of choice, and we scooted around the crumb-laden floor in single file. There were fender benders, giggles, road rage, and a general delight at the surprise of me entering the world of play when I should’ve otherwise been productive. 

And while the ten minutes on the floor together was fun, I was most surprised by the morning that ensued. Andrew and Malachi had been struggling with poor listening and even poorer attitudes for the past two weeks. After the parade? They were different kids. 

I didn’t mean to make them the object of any sort of research. And of course there were more variables than one. But if I had to do my most scientific deduction, I’d conclude that entering into their world made a big difference in our relationship. It was the cause of a very good effect. I spent ten minutes with a school bus singing variations of Daniel Tiger’s neighborhood. Although that’s what they heard and saw, something deeper was understood. 

By choosing to be with them in their element, I chose to love them where they were at. Not with better behavior, more manners, or improved attitudes. I just loved them as they were. Unchanged, and in the moment. 
But perhaps what spoke most powerfully? I simply chose them with my time.  

I chose them over clean countertops and an emptied sink. 
I chose them over Instagram or emails. 
I chose them over the rest of my morning coffee. 
I invested ten engaged and uninterrupted minutes, and it changed our relationship for the entire day. That’s a heck of a return on investment. 

When we relegate our investments to money, we wonder why we see so little relational and spiritual return. It’s because we’ve either failed or been flippant with the input. When money matters more than most everything else, we devise careful plans and particular processes on where and with whom to put it. Should we not be so intentional and more for what we invest in the people we love? Or with whom we invest our precious time, our limited attention?

But here’s the deal about investing in people. It’s risky business. 
Much riskier than the money business and the market business. 

Similarly to most financial investments, when we pour into people, we have no guaranteed returns. We don’t know exactly what will come back. But dissimilar to money, we are offering pieces of ourselves, and we don’t know how that’ll be accepted or how it’ll be returned.

I could’ve forfeited my morning productivity time for a school bus on the floor, and our day could’ve been shot with poor attitudes and bad behavior anyways. You invest in people, and you just don’t know which way things will go. We want to know to the best of our ability what our chances are with our money. How much can we get back? What is the profit? What is the risk? We calculate meticulously and act accordingly. 

But the point of the investment with people is the investment itself and not the return. Never the return. 

If we invest with the return in mind, it’s called manipulation. And that return might taste good for a minute, but mostly ends up bitter. 

Risking investment with no regard for reward is the ultimate currency to which we’re called. 
Counter-intuitive as it is to this world, we are called to sow the seeds and not count the harvest. 
Return on investment might be a big deal. 
But the investment itself turns out to be the biggest deal.
Sow the seeds.

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