Newsletter #426 – Investing in People

Leadership, coaching, teaching and mentoring all have the goal of helping people move from where they are to where they want or need to be. When it’s effective all of our work with people involves building and cultivating relationships. I thought of this last week as I read Steve Saccone’s book Relational Intelligence.

For example, in a chapter titled “The Disproportionate Investor,” Saccone argues that Jesus had a four part strategy for working closely with the disciples. He prayed about the people he would invest in, selected them carefully, spent a lot of time teaching, and then entrusted them with important leadership responsibilities. At the core of this process was careful and strategic thinking about selecting those with whom we would work. Some people are like “purses with holes.” They take our investments in them, but they don’t retain much. They rarely grow and aren’t inclined to invest in other people. Saccone calls them consumers who “devour every ounce of relational and emotional energy for themselves, draining it right out of” those who give it. Much different and better according to the book are the investors. Often they are eager learners who look for ways to apply their new insights and skills to new situations. In the process they energize others, including the men and women who lead, coach and teach them. Saccone urges us to invest in those who have potential and the determination to pass on their learning to others.

Probably most of us spend time investing in other people. We want to make wise choices and focus our efforts on those who have the greatest potential to grow and give a good return on our investment. But why did Jesus select Judas? Haven’t we all had experiences of mentoring unlikely candidates and watching them respond? Sometimes they do waste our time, but others blossom to the surprise of everyone. I prefer working with people who have obvious potential but sometimes I sense God leading me to those who are most often overlooked.

How do you select the people you invest in? Please share your thoughts and experiences by leaving a comment.


  1. I believe that as a leader you do not choose the people whom you lead/help especially when you are a christian leader. We are bound love them all unconditionally and givethem the services necessary just like our master did. Although i’m being critised but this is one of the reasons that i even keep muslims as my friends


    1. I want to thank all of you who left a response this week. I don’t have a ton of readers who read my newsletter but I am amazed and grateful for people like you who wrote and others who are like you – sensitive, available, open to God’s leading. This includes counselors, coaches, leaders and others. And by the way, Tebogo, do your critics think Jesus would have avoided Muslims just because they didn’t believe like he did? God uses people like us to connect with the people he brings into our lives regardless of what they believe. That is exciting to me.


  2. I too like investing in people who are overlooked by others. I look for people who have no help and whom I can help to grow into God’s full potential.


  3. Thank you for this encouragement to consider my investment in people. I can relate to the author’s descriptions of “consumers” and “investors” as I have worked with both. I try to minister to the people to whom God leads me each day but I know that to survive in my ministry I have to be gaining the energy found in watching the “investors” blossom and take wings and sometimes I have to let the “consumers” go their merry way. It is probably these “consumers,” though, that challenge me to continue to study human nature and look for the key to encouraging them to “plug their holes” and begin to grow into their true selves whom God created them to be.


  4. Judas was chosen because he had a part to play just like Golum had a part in the Lord of the Rings… without them, the story would not have been complete.


    1. Margaret, you are right. I think a lot about story these days and I need the reminder that people who disappoint us or who walk away are part of God’s story, part of why we are on this world to serve others.


  5. I’m a chaplain….people or circumstances choose me…I seldom have the opportunity to choose with whom I invest. The sad truth is that many, if not most, will never approach that which God desires for them. Nonetheless, with each my goal is to help that person along the road to sanctification

    For those who are truly His children, their ultimate reward, and the joy that attaches to it, is the prize…the goal. With others, for whom this life is the best they’ll ever see, the investment is the reward….for me anyway…now and in the life to come.

    So, I don’t choose one or another. I let Him handle the appointments….I just try to show up with regularity.


    1. For about ten years I worked part time as a civilian instructor with the US Air Force Chaplains School. This give me opportunity to be on a number of air bases around the world and sometimes I would be with chaplains when they were approached for advice or counseling. I was amazed by the ways in which those chaplains did on-the-spot short term encouragement and interventions. It appeared that this was one-shot counseling between two people who would never see each other again. In a small way this helped me to understand what you wrote: for many of us we don’t choose the people we work with; the chose us.

      I wonder if Jesus would have preferred to work with the people who had great potential. He had a few of those but more often he spent time with the people who appeared, who sometimes ignored what he said, who walked away. It isn’t always rewarding but in Jesus we have a model and a mentor. Thanks for your post.


  6. Those who respond to me and are teachable. I wait along time for people develop trust. i find that many are unteachable this is an area that I would like to develop in!


  7. I believe there are times that God wants us to invest in someone to help us grow. When selecting who I invest time in, my first filter should be “is this something God would have me do” not “is this a situation that will benefit me or the other person the most”.
    Often it is years down the road before we understand the God perspective. Are we not created to serve and obey God.


    1. Bruce, I appreciate your comment a lot. Too often, I think, we pick the brightest and most attractive people to work with, convinced that these are the ones with the greatest potential. But that can be wrong. Surprising as it may seem, I had never much thought of the fact that sometimes the people we work with may be the ones that God uses to mold us. Selecting from those who want to connect with us must be a God-directed thing. Otherwise they and we both lose what God may have intended.


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