A little over 30 days into a new year and the young leader feels overwhelmed. She’s cleared the minor commitments of the previous year from her to-do list and is ready to tackle the major engagements of the current year.
Her schedule is busy, her business is profitable, her pipeline is full of potential contracts, and she’s engaged in some new business conversations. By all outward signs she is richly blessed; inwardly she knows her conversations and actions are showing signs of the stress she is experiencing.
When she’s asked how she’s doing, her response is positive: “I’m managing my blessings, so they don’t become a burden.”
Is she simply putting on a facade of contentment, or does she know something you don’t?
When you’re asked, “How’s business? Are you busy?” how do you respond?
For a long time, my answer would be, “Yes, busier than I need to be,” or something like that.
Now I’ve started to answer “Yes, I’m always busy — but your real question should be ‘Are you busy, and if so, are you profitable?’”
Being busy without being profitable means you have a hobby and not a business.
As a leader, being busy without being effective may be a sign you’re investing your time in the wrong areas.
We live in a culture that values activity over profit. Secretly, we love to boast about how full our schedules are, or how little time we have as if your level of activity is a meaningful measure of success.
Valuing activity over profit is like savoring success without significance.
Do you embrace the challenge of keeping up, or is it more enticing to give up? Are you managing your blessings, or are they burdens that are causing your soul to despair?
The young leader knows something we lose sight of during times of managing blessings and shouldering burdens. She knows the condition of her heart and the state of her business.
Proverbs 27:23 reminds her: “Know the state of your flocks, and put your heart into caring for your herds, for riches don’t last forever, and the crown might not be passed to the next generation.”
Her secret is in what she’s learned: Managing your blessings requires that you take stock of what you have.
Being content with what you have requires that you manage what you are given.
Everything you have and experience is a blessing; if you’re not content it’s your attitude and perspective that makes it a burden.
The Right Path to Follow
An unmanaged life leads to discontentment, and unmanaged burdens lead to weariness and discouragement. Are you willing to allow the activities in your life to lead you along that path?
Reframe your perspective: Everything to which you are called is designed for God to be able to accomplish the good works that he planned for you, through you.
What if you begin your day with this prayer from Ephesians 2: “Father, I know you have created me new in Christ Jesus for good works that you planned for me long ago. Show me the good works you want me to work on today, understand how you prepare me for tomorrow, and help me manage the positive and the negative as blessings for your glory.”
You may think your calling to a career or leadership role is so you can do great things for God. Your heavenly Father calls you to believe, obey, follow, and trust – allowing him to do great things through you.
What’s Your Measure of Greatness?
The reason you’re not content is that you’re seeking satisfaction from the wrong things and you’re pursuing activities that don’t align with the good works God has in mind for you.
You will be content when you trust God to accomplish the good works he has planned for you with the unique gifts, talents, and business he gave you.
Contrary to culture, the core tenet of leadership and worship for the believer is Christ first, not business first. Your heart will be lighter when you trade the heaviness of burdens for the perspective of blessings.
A significant life is the result of the intentional investment of time and resources. It’s like economics. You can’t have a serious discussion of God’s economy or basic business economics without understanding this basic fact. In any economic system, you invest with an expectation of profitable results. The expectation of return involves the investment of your most valuable asset. Consider John 3:16; the hidden treasure, or priceless pearl from Matthew 13. These verses and stories are cherished by the Christian faith and familiar to many through shared cultural literacy for the sacrifice (or, investment) made with an eye on a great return.
Ephesians chapters 1 and 2 refer to God’s immense riches of mercy and grace, assuring us that the investment of his most valuable possession (his Son) still left him with vast resources made infinitely greater by his sacrifice.
Investment involves risk, and risk is at the heart of what it means to be a leader.
So, what does this have to do with our addiction to activity?
What is your most valuable asset?
Albert Einstein recognized, “The most powerful force in the universe is compound interest.” The principle of compound interest applies to financial investing, but does it apply to relationships? Not only will a financial investment increase over time, but an investment in people will also provide a return over time.
We frantically spend time networking, trying to see the right people. What if you made the most of every opportunity and every new relationship?
The people whom you meet cycle in and out of your life; when you approach every new relationship as an opportunity to invest in others, you’ll see your investment return over a lifetime of relationships and love.
Calculated risk isn’t a decision that you can make hastily. We’re so free with our time as if we have an unlimited supply.
We think we can waste time without considering how we injure eternity.
We don’t calculate the impact of spending our time foolishly.
We need to view our time and activity from the perspective of “managing our blessings,” instead of being overwhelmed and allowing blessings (or circumstances) to manage us.
Where will you invest your time? In what will you risk investing your time? In whom will you risk investing time?
While earning money is important, in the long run investing in people involves the most risk, and carries the potential of the greatest return on your investment.
Time is your most valuable resource. Relationships are a rich return.
You can always earn more money.
Where are you investing your time?