Over the last 20 years I have been around some very successful CEOs from a purely business standpoint. Some of these people have taken very modest amounts of capital and have grown companies to a considerable size, and then sold them for millions of dollars. Others have been able to employ hundreds of people and lead very large companies. However, I wonder if these tangible business indicators alone mean they have truly been successful in life?
The answer to that, of course, depends on how a person defines success. How do you define success for your life? Do you measure success by how many dollars you earn, how big your company grows, or is it through a more relational approach, such as the quality of your relationships with God, friends and family members? How do you think God would measure success for your life?
For me, the answer to that last question is determined by whether I am fulfilling my God-given purpose and doing what God wants me to do in my business and my family, as well as my worship community, circle of friends, the marketplace as a whole, and the Dallas, Texas, U.S.A. community where I live.
One way I measure success is through the lens of an investor. Every day I have to determine where to maximize my investment of time, talents, treasure, relational capital, and physical energy. These are all gifts from God that He has entrusted to me. The investment choices of how and where to deploy them are not always easy, but they are important. As it says in 1 Corinthians 4:2-5, “Now it is required that those who have been given a trust must prove faithful…. (the Lord) will bring to light what is hidden in darkness and will expose the motives of men’s hearts. At that time each will receive his praise from God.”
For example, do I spend more time “after hours” at The CEO Institute trying to further grow my business, or do I invest that same hour at home having dinner with my wife? Do I spend regular time on Sunday afternoon talking with my elderly mother, or do I devote the time to investment research in the Wall Street Journal? Do I ride my bicycle on Sunday morning, or do I invest that time worshipping at my church and attending Sunday school? Do I participate in a prison ministry event, or do I play in the member-guest tournament at the country club? Decisions, decisions. They require wisdom from God.
All investors try to maximize the return on investment of capital. That is precisely what I am trying to do in my life as a whole. As we are told in the passage from 1 Corinthians 4 and elsewhere in the Bible, I know one day God will review my life and ask for an accounting of how I invested the gifts He gave to me. So as a steward of those gifts, and not the owner, I have to think about how the Master (the true Owner) would have me invest what He has entrusted to me.
While we should primarily seek to be a good Steward/ Investor because we love God and want to serve Him, God as our Creator also understands our human nature. He knows we all want to be recognized and rewarded for being good investors. And the Bible makes it clear that God will reward us for our faithfulness in investing/stewarding all His gifts both in this life and in Heaven.
In a future “Monday Manna,” I will present some specific ideas on how we can ensure being good investors of the resources God has entrusted to our care and use. In the meantime, take some time and consider how you are doing in “life investing.”
Lane Kramer is a Dallas, Texas business who founded The CEO Institute, a membership-based organization to help CEOs build world-class companies consistent with biblical principles and values. His website is www.ceoinst.com.
1. What is your personal definition of success? Based on your definition, how would you rate your progress to date?
2. Mr. Kramer suggests viewing success in terms of being an investor of the time, talents and other resources we have. Do you agree? Why or why not?
3. The passage from 1 Corinthians, chapter 4 talks about receiving a trust, or being made a steward, by God. How do you respond to this idea?
4. In light of what you have read, what steps would you think could be helpful in becoming a more effective steward or investor of what you have at your disposal, including your time, abilities and other resources available to you in your workplace?
NOTE: If you have a Bible and would like to review additional passages that relate to this topic, consider the following verses:
Proverbs 12:24, 14:23, 20:5-6, 28:20; Matthew 24:45, 25:14-30; Luke 16:10; Philemon 6 (NIV, Amplified)