I spend money on a lot of things. Some are necessary - like food, gas for my Suburban (Which, incidentally, cost me $116 to fill this week! Ack!), and so on. Some are unnecessary but enjoyable - like McDonald's, movie rentals, a cute pair of shoes. Some are important, but often get neglected - such as cosmetic repairs around the house. (Man, do we ever need a new coat of paint on these walls!) The same goes for how I spend my time and efforts. Necessary - housework. Enjoyable - TV. Neglected - writing.
Today I'm thinking of the many things that are worth our investment, but are set aside all too often. Three biggies come to mind...three areas that I want to be sure I'm not neglecting...three relationships that will require both our efforts and our finances if we want them to thrive.
1. Our hubbies (or wives, for the one guy who may actually read here).
Courting keeps our hearts turned toward the one we love. Never stop dating. Date regularly.
No matter how great our relationships are, there is always room for improvement. Be willing to spend the time and money on books, seminars, etc. that will build up the marital bond.
Time away. Together. The only way to truly assure your spouse that he is more important to you than kids, work, ministry, etc. is to be willing to leave all those things behind (for a weekend or a week) and be alone with him.
2. Our families.
One on one time. Want to turn your child's heart toward you, toward God, toward obedience? Show that child how loved he/she is by investing a couple hours in just being together (with no one else).
Learning time. I believe it's impossible to ever learn all that we need to know about parenting. Raising our children to love and honour God takes practice and lots of learning (on our part and theirs). Again, books and seminars will seldom be a waste of time or money.
3. Our friends.
Friendships require time together in order to grow and stay healthy. While some long-distance friendships may stand the test of time, many quietly fade into something that "once was." Evidence that time together matters. Certainly our marriages, families, work, and ministries require a great deal from us, often leaving little in the way of energy, time, or finances. But a failure to invest in our friendships will eventually reveal itself as those relationships drift.
The beauty of friendship is that it is the one relationship where our financial investment doesn't need to be much. While a spouse will likely grow dissatisfied with "home dates" over the coffee table, a girlfriend never does. Time is the key commodity that will keep friends close.
I once heard it said this way... Every 5000 kms or so, we make an appointment (or nowadays pull into a line up) for an oil change. We spend time waiting while the work is done, then we spend money to pay for that work. It isn't always easy to sacrifice either the time or the money for that oil change, but we do it. We do it because we know that investing in regular maintenance on our vehicles will help prevent major breakdowns. (And we all know that major breakdowns take a whole LOT of our time and money!) If we put off this investment too long, something inevitably goes wrong.
Aren't our relationships more valuable than our cars?