Investing in People

By Michaela O’Donnell

February 6, 2021

Scripture: Matthew 25:14-15 (NRSV)

For it is as if a man, going on a journey, summoned his slaves and entrusted his property to them; To one he gave five talents, to another two, to another one, to each according to his ability. Then he went away.


In life, we have people whom God trusts us with and people whom God trusts with us. Our investment in each other truly can pay dividends in God’s Kingdom.


When I was in the fifth grade, my teacher would redo the seating chart once every couple of months. When she did, she would reward good behavior by sitting you next to your friend. And, as long as you kept up that good behavior, you’d get to keep sitting next to your friend. It was positive reinforcement at its best! Now, I was the kind of kid who mostly listened to the rules in elementary school. I raised my hand and engaged when the teacher asked questions. I did my homework and helped clean up after class. So, when it was time for a new seating chart I’d wait with anticipation to see where the teacher would place me, hoping of course that it’d be next to one of my friends.

But my teacher never placed me next to my friends. Instead—every single time—I was assigned the seat next to Stephen. Stephen was not my friend in the way fifth-graders define friendship. Steven had a hard time paying attention and was loud and was always in trouble with the teacher. Stephen sat alone at lunch and didn’t have anyone to play with at recess.

A few years later I started to look back and wonder if maybe my fifth-grade teacher had entrusted me with Stephen. Entrusted me to care for him and help him, to notice him and be with him. But, a few years after that, I started to wonder if perhaps I had gotten it backward. Perhaps, our teacher had entrusted me to Stephen, helping soften my rule-abiding heart and teaching me to love people who don’t always fit in. Teaching me about the messy, lovely, out-of-sorts way of God’s Kingdom and how to think about friendship beyond the lens of fifth-grader. All these years later, I suspect it was Stephen who left more of an impression on me than the other way around.

And, so this passage that’s about investing money, also invites us to think about how we invest in relationships. Who has God entrusted to our care? And, whose care have we been entrusted to? By the way, this language of “entrusted to our care” comes from De Pree Center Senior Fellow Scott Cormode. It’s a big part of how he defines leadership—encouraging leaders to hinge their work on listening to the longings and losses of people entrusted to their care.

Do you have Stephens in your life—people you felt were assigned to but were also assigned to you? In life, we have people who God trusts us with and people who God trusts with us. Our investment in each other truly can pay dividends in God’s Kingdom.


In this season of your life and leadership, who has God trusted you to care for? Who has God has trusted to care for you?


Reach out to someone who you sense God has entrusted to care for you—a mentor, a colleague, a friend. Tell them what their care for you has meant to you.


God, you are Lord of relationships. Thank you for the gift of investing in one another and for the ways that our lives can impact one another for the good of your Kingdom. Amen.

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Find all Life for Leaders devotions here. Explore what the Bible has to say about work at the unique website of our partners, the High Calling archive, hosted by the Theology of Work Project. Reflection on today’s Life for Leaders theme can be found here: Real, Basic Stewardship

Michaela O’Donnell

Mary and Dale Andringa Executive Director

Mary and Dale Andringa Executive Director Chair Max De Pree Center for Leadership Assistant Professor of Marketplace Leadership Fuller Seminary Dr. Michaela O’Donnell is the Mary and Dale Andringa Executive Director Chair of the Max...

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