Spenders or Investors: Relationships

Last week I wrote about the difference of spenders and investors in finance. However, the same principle applies to relationships.

During the early part of my life, I viewed myself as a geek and an introvert, and my profession as a software developer contributed to that. Any kind of technical job tends to separate you from the rest of the world because, like it or not, most people can’t intelligently converse with you about your work. Further, relationships are intimidating to the technical mind because they’re messy and don’t give you nice, clean measurable results.

This past year, however, I’ve started understanding the importance of relationships in new ways. I’ve discovered that relationships are one of the greatest motivators for me to change and grow, and I’ve discovered that they also provide one of the greatest means for me to influence others.

In relationships, spenders are the ones who use everything for themselves, and they use it right now. Spenders are easy to pick out. You pour deeply into their lives, only to discover moments later that everything you gave them has already been used up. When you leave them, you feel empty and worn out.

Relating with a relational investor is always life-giving. When you pour deeply into their lives, they pour deeply back into yours, and both of you leave feeling stronger than before. Investors are the ones who know that relationships aren’t about themselves. They understand that as stewards of what God has given them, they need to pour these things back out into others’ lives.

Investors look for investors. If you had a $1000 that you could give to anyone, would you choose to give it to a spender or and investor? In the same way, if you are going to give of yourself to someone else, are you not more likely to pour of yourself to someone who will multiply the things you give them? Similarly, if you want to attract investors into your life, you need to be bold enough to pour out into the lives of others.

Spenders fight to keep their tanks full because they have nothing coming back to them. Investors give all day long and go to bed fuller than they started, because they have mastered the relational art of taking something small and causing it to grow. Spenders are only aware of needs, but investors are also aware of their income sources, and they make deliberate choices to give based on their strengths. They learn to maximize their own talents and strengths whenever possible, and they choose to walk in the divine empowerment of Christ. They avoid needs that fall outside of those areas because they know they don’t have the resources for it, and they know that God has designed and called others to meet that area of need.

Go out and invest!


  1. I have some questions (and it is late at night so please bear with me if I don’t make very much sense) —

    say my strength is discipling other young Christians, but I’m currently relating to an unbeliever who I continue to witness to again and again and again. She listens to me, but doesn’t change. (It feels very much like a “spender”.)

    I feel often that in this case I am operating outside of my strength, and that the energy that that saps from me prevents me from giving as much in “mentoring” in other of my relationships.

    I’m trying to decide if I should come to the place where I say “Look, I care about you, but until you’re serious about coming back to God then you’re just wasting my time whining about your awful life.” Obviously not that forthright, because that sounds pretty mean, but you get what I’m saying.

    How do you know when to be focused on developing your strengths more and when/if you are supposed to branch out and try giving in other ways too that don’t feel as “natural”?

    When I compare the “results” between this girl and another Christian friend, one with evangelism and the other with discipleship, I only see results in the latter. Does this mean that I should stick with “what I’m good at”?

    Sorry about all my scrambled thoughts, but your post really made me think…

  2. This can be an incredibly difficult issue to wrestle with, because every single soul has eternal worth, and we don’t ever want to lose sight of that.

    The perspective I keep coming back to is that I am part of the body of Christ, and as part of the body of Christ, I don’t choose what I’m good at (or more importantly, called to). These are gifts that have been given to me to edify the body. If my arm is paralyzed, the rest of my body will need to compensate for it, but no part of the body should do so at the neglect of its original function. Some parts of the body, like the heart, will benefit the body the most by /remaining/ in its original function.

    I do feel like there are some people who carry more than their share of the burden within the body of Christ, not because they were originally called to all those tasks, but because the person called to that task hasn’t stepped up to the plate. Sometimes we need to do that, and sometimes we need to do things that are difficult and don’t seem to yield fruit.

    Results are extremely hard to measure, especially when one person might plant, another might water, and a third might harvest! For me, results have become a walk of faith. The truth is that one seemingly insignificant conversation I have with one person can touch dozens of lives and ripple out into eternity, while a seemingly significant conversation can be completely snatched away because the person appears to listen but actually ignores what I have to say. I’ve needed to come to trust the Spirit of God who lives within me. If He gives me peace about the road I’m taking, I also trust Him with the results.

    (Did Paul himself write that he does not even judge himself and that all things will be judged at the proper time?)

    Having said that, even from a purely scientific perspective, you are most productive and most likely to succeed in the things that give you life. Studies show that, almost across the board, art students who pursued art because of personal interest become financially successful. The art students who pursued art because of money ended up changing careers. The ones who pursued art because it was life-giving were the ones with the best long-term results.

    I am by no means trying to put God in a box. However, I think there may be same principles here that we can glean some things from.

    More than anything else, I encourage you to learn to walk in the peace of God. The more that you can rest in the finished work of the cross and the resurrection reality of Jesus Christ, the easier it will be to discern what God would have for you in these situations.

    Bless you big!

  3. Thanks for your thoughts and input! I agree that one must walk with discernment to sense the Holy Spirit’s leading in such situations.

    In the situation I mentioned with the girl, I felt like God showed me I should back off with how much time, energy, and caring I’ve been investing into her life (particularly because of health issues, I’ve been limited with how much I can give) and to a certain extent I have, but it’s been hard, especially when she says I’m her “only friend”.

    I think what I’ve felt in the past is wondering if it’s selfish to not give to those who can’t give back to me(or others), but when you put it in this light, instead it seems wise to invest in people who will run with what you give them…

    I appreciated your comments too about pursuing what is life-giving. Man, you’ve really given me a lot to think about. I have a tendency to think that everybody who has problems that I could help, I should help, even if its “operating outside of my strength”. Because I care deeply about people it has been hard for me to say “no” and make boundaries for myself… when doing so would help me be more focused, effective, and have more energy for when I do give.

    Anyway, keep writing. I love your blog! Blessings to ya!

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