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Investment is Not Only for Businessmen
Any time investment is mentioned, we quickly think of businesspersons. May I emphasise here that investment is not exclusively for formal business activities. Just as one doesn’t have to be a chef in order to cook, so it is that one doesn’t have to be a trader in order to invest. There are many forms of investments and money is just one of them. A farmer planting a seed is investing, so is one who spends his time reading for schoolwork. A person who pays school fees for a student is investing; a person who uses his resources to instruct the young ones is investing, the list is endless.
The main idea with investment is that we are going to directly or indirectly get back more than we invested. It is direct if our investments bring us profits; it is indirect if our investments benefit other people. If we help one person who will in turn help many other people, that is an investment. We don’t have to be the centre of what we are doing. That means, even if our investment benefits other people, it is still worth giving it the best we have.
It is through investment that we experience multiplication, hence growth. Wasn’t it the first commandment? “Be fruitful and multiply” (Gen. 1:22). This shows how important investment is. Without investment, there is no multiplication, and without multiplication, all the other areas of life will be affected. It is therefore very important that the wheels of production are kept rotating.
The Most Demanding Form of Stewardship
Investment is the most demanding form of stewardship. This is why though it is natural to invest, many people shy away from it. The following reasons explain why:
- Risks of losses
In any form of business undertaking, there are always risks involved. One can get profits just as he can incur loses. If we are operating our own business and we incur loses, we will not be required to give an account to anyone but still it will pain us to experience a loss. Losses in business are likely to affect other areas of our life. If we are stewards, we will be managing somebody else’s business. Any losses must be accounted for. One can lose his job if he is not a good steward.
“And he said also unto his disciples, There was a certain rich man, which had a steward; and the same was accused unto him that he had wasted his goods. And he called him, and said unto him, How is it that I hear this of thee? give an account of thy stewardship; for thou mayest be no longer steward.”—Luke 16:1-2.
In the above story, the steward was involved in some manner of misappropriation of his master’s resources. He seemed to have loaned out lots of goods. He didn’t steal these things for himself because when his job was threatened, he lamented the fact that he didn’t have anything to go to—either he would have to dig or beg.
Sometimes, factors and forces at play may not be within the manager’s control. Most of these can be unpredictable market forces. This notwithstanding, a good steward is expected to do a realistic risk analysis and resilient fall-back strategies. In this way, he can put in place buffer facilities so that business doesn’t collapse in an event of unforeseen circumstances. The owner of the business may still seek answers even if unpredictable circumstances came up. Stewardship carries with it a great responsibility. He must have an in-and-out-of-season operational scheme and strategy. In fact, the qualification of being made a steward is that you are able to foresee things. This means that the so-called unforeseen circumstances are not an excuse for a failed stewardship. They are called unforeseen because you didn’t see them, the blame will therefore be: why didn’t you see them? If you are caught unawares, it means you were not watchful enough.
- Test of faith
In Ecclesiastes 11:4, we read the following: “He that observeth the wind shall not sow; and he that regardeth the clouds shall not reap.” This scripture encourages sowers to defy the prevailing weather conditions and plant their seed. It takes a remarkable faith to sow seeds into a dry ground, unless the clouds give a sign that they are pregnant with rain. Planting seeds in dry ground without rain in sight is comparable only to sending the sheep out among the wolves and still hope that it will come back.
And when we invoke faith into this matter, it means that we acknowledge the fact that we are not in control over everything. Naturally, we will be blamed if we planted the seed without observing that the conditions were right. If the conditions are not suitable, the only thing that can make you plant a seed is if you have a working relationship with the One who has the keys to the water reservoirs in the sky. Regardless of how the conditions look, you can plant and then go talk to Him to send the rain. Or sometimes, He may ask you to go out and plant without caring about the prevailing weather conditions. If this is the case, He would want you to trust Him, because He would surely send the rain. It doesn’t take Him time to gather the clouds and fill them with water.
- Sacrifices and self-denials
Investment is painstaking and risk-taking. We need to deny ourselves in order to invest. Investing can demand that we shun the instant needs in order to pitch for a distant profit.
“They that sow in tears shall reap in joy. He that goeth forth and weepeth, bearing precious seed, shall doubtless come again with rejoicing, bringing his sheaves with him.”—Psalm 126:5-6.In the countryside where I grew up, we used to hang the maize seeds on the roof. This was to place them out of easy reach. They were placed directly above the fireplace. With time, because we used firewood for cooking, the smoke rising to the roof would cover the seeds with bitter soot. It was then not possible to eat them. More often, towards the sowing time, there wasn’t enough cereals for daily subsistence, making the temptation to eat the seeds extremely high. Because the seeds would be ‘out of reach’, people would persevere, sometimes starving.
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