Monday, January 10, 2005

How's your Investments?

This is my January column from "ChurchActs" the diocesan newspaper of the Diocese of WNY

Well it’s the start of the year. That’s always a good time to sit back and review the year gone by with an eye towards the year to come. I want to talk to our youth about their investments. (Edit: All this applies to the adults too!)

By the way this column has nothing to do with money.

Now back to your investments. 2005 is just getting underway and I want you to spend a little time thinking about how you invest your time. Because how you invest your times is also the measure for how you invest your life. For most of us the “portfolios” that hold our investments of time are self, Family, Work (in your case School), Church and Other. Other includes all the stuff we do because we choose to, hobbies, sports, social activities and things like that.
So spend a little time looking at how your invest your time. Take a serious moment and think of how much time you actually invest in the average day, week, month and year in each category. Be honest, hey no one’s going to see this but you. Don’t try to fudge the figures if you don’t like the way the numbers are coming out. That’s part of the exercise.
While you’re doing that let me play investment advisor for you. So let’s look at the options:

Self – All of us need to take the time to take care of our selves. That means physically, mentally and spiritually. Even Jesus took time during his very short adult ministry to go off by himself and get away from the crowds. With your physical self-investment are you investing in good food, some exercise? In the mental section are you looking for new challenges or allowing your mind to stay in the same comfortable neighborhood. Spiritually if someone asked you about your personal relationship with God what would you say? Sunday morning worship can only be a small portion of this investment.

Family – Some families function really well, some don’t function at all, a lot of others just muddle through. You probably know where yours fits. So the next question is how much do you invest here. It’s too easy in our society to just blow off the importance of family. I’ve never heard of someone losing by investing heavily in this portfolio. There’s risk here for some of you, enormous risk. But the potential returns not only in the short term but in long term too are just too good to pass up. Your siblings may be a pain and your parents may be totally Uggghh but they are your family. And there’s an amazing long-term track record for this one.

– To be honest you don’t get a lot of choice on this one. The question for you is what kind of quality investment do you want this to be? When I was in school someone said to me “Don’t think of it as something that’s being forced upon you, think of it as something they owe you. Demand that they deliver and deliver in a useful form”. It changed the quality of my investment in this portfolio.

Other – Here’s all the other stuff, the sports, the music, the X-box, the hanging at the mall, the hobbies, et cetera. In our society this portfolio gets a lot of attention. Sometimes too much attention. The Other category can take over our whole lives, dominating our schedules and forcing everything else to the back. If there’s one portfolio to trim it’s almost always this one.

Church – and if there’s one that commonly gets shortchanged it’s this one. This one gets whatever is left over, and let’s be honest that’s usually very little. Church is more than just that interminable hour (or more) on Sunday morning. It’s part of the spiritual portion of our Self portfolio. It’s the part of our investments that directs us away from ourselves and out into the world. To care for someone else and their needs rather than to spend all our time on our own.

So here’s my investment advice. Take a hard look at how much is invested in Other and cut it. Don’t eliminate it because some of it is tied into your Self portfolio. Take the extra and invest it where you’re under-invested. My bets are those are Your Church, Your Family and Your Self . In the end you’ll discover those investments are a lot more important than all the other stuff in your life. Along the way you’ll probably also discover less tension, less craziness and more joy in your life. Proof positive of the quality of those investments.


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