Know Your Assets and How to Use Them
- Monday, December 15, 2003
Nick was a talented guy who managed the assets of investors by trading on the global stock market. He became a wheeler-dealer in a high-risk segment of the market, but he didn't really know the importance to his employer of the assets he was managing. To him, the assets were merely one of the components allowing him to play an exciting game.
Unfortunately, he didn't count on an earthquake in Japan destabilizing his market. He tried to adjust, but he was a gambler, and the only thing a gambler does well is gamble. By the time he gave up gambling he had lost some serious change-like about a billion dollars. His little mismanagement fiasco destroyed a 300-year-old bank, the bank that had once held the first mortgage on the Louisiana Purchase. Oops.
Nicholas Leeson never really understood the value or purpose of the assets that had been entrusted to him. What can we learn from Nick's debacle? First, don't get so caught up in what you're doing that you lose sight of why you're doing it. And second, you can squander your assets if you don't understand and use them well.
What do I mean by assets? Simply, those parts of our life and situation that we can choose to use for God's glory-or for other things. Every season of life provides certain assets. When I was four years old my assets were adorableness (so my mother says) and the fact that I didn't take up a lot of space in the family car. As a teenager my assets were plenty of energy and ... well, that's probably it. Do you see the assets in your life that come from your singleness? Equally important, do you understand them and use them wisely?
I believe the most overlooked asset of singleness is flexibility. The average single adult has available to him or her a wonderful mix of time, energy, and resources with which to build a lifestyle overflowing with ministry impact and spiritual growth. Yet so often the choices made by singles rob them of this valuable gift of flexibility. How do we maximize our flexibility?
One key aspect of flexibility is time. A single woman once characterized her singleness as "drowning in time." Have you felt this way? The single life can seem heavy on time, and ways to randomly fill that time are expanding daily. How can our free time become "impact time"? Leland Ryken advises us well: "Time is the arena within which all human quests run their course. It is within time that the issues of life are contested and sometimes resolved. Without making one's peace with time, a person will not solve the question of how to find the good life."
How do we "make our peace with time?" Do you steward your time, including your free time, or do you let outside influences determine how you use it? I am a slacker by temperament, but I've learned to schedule my time so that my slacker tendencies don't eat my life whole. My objective in time management is not to get as much done as possible, but to try to make sure that I end up doing what is best for me to do.
For example, I tend to over-commit my evenings. So, I schedule every one, even if it is simply a "reading night" or an "off night." Then if something comes up, I have some options on how to handle it-it doesn't just infect my schedule like the flu, throwing off everything else in my life until I can regroup. I've also come to recognize how I can blow time (like in front of the tube), so I make a special effort to discipline myself in those areas.
I encourage the single folks I know to take regular overnight personal retreats-to break from the routine, be before the Lord, and just assess life. Let me encourage you to do the same. Use those times to set goals for progress, not perfection. Study the scriptural principle of the Sabbath, then apply what you learn. If you do things like this, will every moment become an impact moment? No. But impact will likely emerge "all by itself" from the ordered use of the time you do have.
Your flexibility will also be affected by your approach to work. As a single adult you are highly prized in the employment world for the sheer number of hours that can be sucked out of your life for the sake of the bottom line. Money, perks, travel, "opportunity," and promotions are all used as lures to get single folks to carry the time load no one else seems to want. Don't bite. This is the hook of the world lurking under the bait of career. Whether you work for yourself or for someone else, don't let career or job define you. Work hard, but work as unto the Lord. God is your boss, and in the end his advancement plan is the only one that counts.
Another potential snare is possessions. I knew a Christian single woman who always seemed to be moving from one place to another. Was she an irritable person, unpleasant, hard to live with? No, she just had too much stuff. She always needed a large area in which to store her accumulated possessions, most of which weren't in use and could have easily been replaced if needed. But she had a false sense of security in her possessions. Her stuff had become her treasure, and in a sense she worshiped it. She passed up some great living opportunities because she thought it more important to protect her stuff than to be available for the adventure of God's purpose. As Jesus said, "Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also" (Matthew 6:21).
The less stuff (car, house, music collections, etc.) we have to manage, the less chance our heart will attach to it, and the greater will be our flexibility for God's purpose. I'm not saying "stuff" is inherently bad, but we must recognize that our sinful nature will always tempt us to worship it.
"The Rich Single Life" by Andrew Farmer: "The truths contained in The Rich Single Life could revolutionize your understanding of singleness. Andrew Farmer skillfully shows single Christian men and women what a rich and valuable opportunity they have. Just as importantly, he explains how to take full advantage of that opportunity. This book will help you live the single life in all the fullness of God." -Joshua Harris, author and pastor. Available from the Sovereign Grace Store.
"Money, Possessions and Eternity" by Randy Alcorn: Who wants to settle for fleeting treasures on earth...when God offers everlasting treasures in heaven? It's time to rethink our perspectives on money and possessions. In this thoroughly researched and extensively updated classic, Randy Alcorn shows us how to view them accurately – as God's provision for our good, the good of others, and his glory.
Visit Sovereign Grace at sovereigngraceministries.org.
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