By the Rev. Dr. Ed Hird
Every financial decision is a life decision. As someone once said, “Measure wealth not by the things you have, but by the things you have for which you would not take money.” True prosperity, according to the original Webster’s Dictionary, is “advance or gain in anything good or desirable.” True prosperity is found in our posterity, not in our portfolio. As J.W. Whitehead put it, “Children are the living messages we send to a time we will not see.”
Investing in the development of our children’s character is the most strategic kind of investing on earth. What greater reward is there for us than to see our children develop character qualities such as integrity, honesty, teachability, loyalty, responsibility, courage, determination, endurance, hospitality, generosity, and humility? That is why Albert Einstein once said, “Try not to become a man of success but rather try to become a man of value.”
Russ Crosson, financial planner and author of A Life Well Spent, holds that the only mark that will truly last is our posterity. He defines posterity first of all as our descendants, and secondly as those individuals in whom we have significant influence. The best way, he says, to get a higher return on life is to invest in our posterity.
The root of the word “business” is busy-ness. So often in our frantically busy world of business, our children get squeezed out of our day-timer. Lack of time is the greatest block to strategic investing in our posterity. Time is our most finite and irreplacable resource. Time is the best gift we can give our children. As Dr. James Dobson, Founder of Focus on the Family, puts it, “If a couple lose our kids, they have nothing.”
Russ Crosson points out four time-stealers that rob our investment in our posterity:
our inability to say no
our inability to slow down
our inability to turn off the television
our inability to control our desire for possessions.
Richard Swenson commented: “to be able to say no without guilt is to be freed from one of the biggest monsters in our overburdened lives.” Many of us unfortunately, in our desire to be positive, keep adding more and more onto our schedules. It is usually our time with our children that bears the brunt. Russ suggests that we should only say yes if it replaces something else that’s already in our schedule.
The second time-stealer is our inability to slow down. Crosson comments that in today’s world everything goes fast, and we strive constantly to see if we can make it go faster. If the computer makes us wait seconds for data, we want a new computer. If the fast-food line takes more than two minutes, we get impatient and visit another fast-food place the next time.
Richard Swenson holds that our relationships are being starved to death by velocity. No one has time to listen, let alone love. Our children lay wounded on the ground, run over by our high-speed intentions.
Perhaps symptomatic of this tragic busyness is how many families no longer have time to even eat together at dinner. Investing in our posterity means taking the radical step of slowing down our frantic pace and taking time to actually listen to each other.
Jane Fonda, the famous actress said: “The few things I regret in my life are.not having put enough time into mothering, wiving, taking care of the inner life.”
The late Billy Graham, Christian statesman and communicator, said: “The greatest mistake was taking too many speaking engagements and not spending enough time with my family.”. Life is just too short. Life is too sudden.
My prayer for those reading this article is that we may become strategic investors in the things that last forever.
The Rev. Dr. Ed Hird, BSW, MDiv, DMin
-author of the award-winning book Battle for the Soul of Canada
-previously published in the Deep Cove Crier/North Shore News
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