Monday, February 25, 2013

Invest In Others

When I was in engineering school, I had to take two semesters of chemistry. During the second semester a small fat girl who liked romance novels was my assigned lab partner. She wouldn’t help with the experiment. I don’t think she liked chemicals very much, nasty smelling things. In spite of my offers to let her participate in the experiments she obviously preferred to read her romance novels. Yes, she actually read romance novels during the lab. It was one of those classes that required a fill-in-the-blanks kind of lab report, rather than the more formal documents required in more advanced classes. I just filled in my lab report as I performed the experiment. When I finished my lab report my partner made a duplicate copy. Once she got a better grade on her lab report than I got on my lab report, but then the lab TA was a small fat woman.

It was one of those defining moments that test our character. I had to ask the question, “What kind of person do I want to be?” I decided that if my lab partner could derive any benefit from my efforts; so be it. I concluded it would all work out in the end. I got a B+ in the course. I have no idea what grade my partner received, but I rather suspect it was somewhat lower than a B+.

This was about the same time I started doing a little tutoring on the side, mostly for free. Sometimes I received cash or in kind payment. I had a pass key to the engineering building that allowed me access to the computers when the building was closed. I was given it as a gift by one of my “students.” He got it from a graduate student in exchange for a tank of gas. It was a very valuable asset that gave me a significant advantage in time flexibility back in the days before the Internet and the personal computer. I also discovered one of the most effective ways of learning a subject was teaching the subject. In order to explain Laplace Transforms to a struggling student you really need to know your stuff.

Invest what you have in others. You can give away your wisdom, your knowledge, your experience. It will never cost you a penny. You still have it and your gift may change someone’s life. It just may make you a richer man. If you know something that could help a coworker, a fellow student, a neighbor, share it. Don’t worry about competition or protecting your little rice bowl. If you plant enough seeds you will have a harvest. It may not come to you in the way you expect. Perhaps a coworker will be promoted into a position that you deserved with your help. It’s OK. Really, it is. If you have consistently given more than you have received to those God places in your life you really don’t need to worry about the harvest. Counsel. Support. Encourage. Share your wisdom with others. You will find healing in your mind, your body, your soul, and your spirit.

Ecclesiastes 11:1

Cast your bread upon the waters, for you will find it after many days.

Matthew 10:42

And if anyone gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones because he is my disciple, I tell you the truth, he will certainly not lose his reward.

Deuteronomy 15:10

Give generously to him and do so without a grudging heart; then because of this the LORD your God will bless you in all your work and in everything you put your hand to.


  1. Beautiful! I love the conflict-crisis that forced a life-affirming decision.

    "It was one of those defining moments that test our character. I had to ask the question, “What kind of person do I want to be?”"

    Makes me think of the inverse of the writer of Hebrews warning not to allow a root of bitterness to spring up.