His lord said to him, “Well done, good and faithful servant; you were faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your lord.” (Matthew 25:21) (NKJ)
This very familiar piece of scripture is in Jesus’ Parable of the Talents. This parable is the story of a man traveling to a far off country and entrusting his servants, according to their abilities with investing various levels of his riches. As the story unfolds, we see that upon his return home, the owner clearly expected a return on his investments. He rewarded the servants who produced a healthy return and scorned the one (you wicked and lazy servant…) who “played it safe” and hid the money safely and produced no return. Breaking even wasn’t in the owner’s plan.
Likewise, we are promised, time and again that we are to live abundantly. Why? To glorify God and have the resources necessary to accomplish His work. He is not the God of “break even.” He requires His kingdom to produce significant returns on His investment. Think about it, every time He has blessed your ministry financially or materially, He has made an investment. He expects a significant return. What good would it do for Him to provide His ministries with “just enough to get by?” How does that advance the Kingdom to fulfill His purpose?
Let’s look at this concept of return in a practical light. Say, for example, God has given you the assignment of establishing a food outreach in your city. You embrace the calling, but you don’t have a delivery van that you need to collect and distribute the food. In order for the outreach to be successful, you need that van. You prayerfully explore the options available to you and the one that appears to be the best is to purchase a used van. You find one that meets your need and you buy it. You have just made an investment into your ministry. You should expect that van to be an asset to your ministry long after you’ve gotten “your money’s worth.” In other words, if you paid $3,000 for it, you would expect it to remain operational long after it had done $3,000 worth of work for you, right? Anything that you gain beyond the initial investment is a return.
I’ll say it again, anytime you make an investment into your ministry, God expects a return on His money, and you should, too.
In my past articles, I’ve begun to scratch the surface of how to improve your ministry operationally to narrow the gap between your potential and performance. The return on investment or ROI applies here, too. I’ll explain: In business today, many companies…even ministries hire outside people to come in to help them solve a problem. Usually, there’s a significant fee associated with that work. Now, if you hire someone to come in and do work for you for a fee, what you get in return should be significant. In a lot of cases though, that doesn’t happen. More may have been paid out than comes back in improvements. Here’s a real-life example that many of us can directly relate to:
I’ve spoken in recent articles about training courses and seminars. They possess two characteristics that all leaders want. They’re:
But they all lack one thing. ROI. If you’ll recall my earlier comments on these “events,” you’ll remember that research shows that over 80% of material “learned” is forgotten, sometimes within hours. Where’s the ROI? If you paid $1500 to send someone to a week-long class, was that person able to return and immediately produce greater than that amount? My guess is no. You achieved no ROI and in essence, you lost money.
My point is, every penny spent on your ministry is an investment. You’re investing in the Kingdom. We know that Jesus’ illustration was meant to show what the kingdom of heaven was like in this regard. He ended the parable with, “For everyone that has, more will be given, and he will have abundance; but from him who does not have, even what he has will be taken away. And cast the unprofitable servant into the outer darkness. There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”(Matthew 25:29-30)
This is a stewardship issue. To me, stewardship does not mean buying the most inexpensive or cheapest thing just because it is. Quality counts. To me, this parable speaks very clearly about getting the most out of everything God blesses you with. You all have a tremendous responsibility to operate your ministries in abundance. If you don’t, you cannot become the blessing that God intends for you to be.
Make a commitment right now that when it’s time to decide on what to “spend” on your ministry, you’ll substitute the word “spend” for the word “invest.” I guarantee it will change your outlook about where the money is going…and more importantly, what you’re getting back for it. Don’t settle for “break even,” it’s not God’s best. Besides, He will give you more, if you become the one that “has!”
I hope this blesses you. My ministry is devoted to creating very significant ROI’s for the ministries we work with. We enter into each improvement project not only expecting it, but guaranteeing it! Unenlightened people view what we do as a “cost” when in reality; the only “cost” is to not do it!