Investing capital makes a difference in people’s lives

While on vacation recently I had the chance to read the first three chapters from a forthcoming book by Mike Breen entitled “Oikonomics” or “How to invest in the Five Capitals Like Jesus Did” Breen challenges us to think of the word “capital” as referring to more than money that we have to invest. He invites us to see that a good life well lived is the investment of a variety of capital that has been given or entrusted to us by God, especially for those us who profess to be disciples of Jesus.

He encourages us to see in such teachings of Jesus,’ as the “Parable of the Talents” recorded in the gospel of Matthew 25:14-30, five different forms of capital: spiritual, financial, physical, intellectual and relational. He believes part of following Jesus and learning to live in the kingdom of God means valuing various forms of capital correctly and then making good investment decisions based on those values.

He goes on to define for us each of these forms of capital: spiritual capital (a relationship with God as a disciple of Jesus), financial capital (money), physical capital (the amount of time and energy we have available to invest), intellectual capital (the ideas, knowledge, and creativity we have to invest) and relational capital (the ways that we network and leverage our capital with others). He notes that each of us, as in the parable, have been given certain amounts of each of these capitals to invest by the way we live.

His use of the word “Oikonomics” as the title of his book describes the context and the way in which we invest these various forms of capital. He states that the word “economy” comes from the Greek roots oikos (“household”) and nomos (“custom” or “law”), so the original meaning of the word economy was “the rule or management of a household.”

“Oikonomics,” he says, “is about how we manage our lives, how we invest our capital as a family on mission to follow Jesus and see his kingdom break in and transform people’s lives. It’s about the economy of our oikos.”

He challenges us to realize that even if we don’t have a lot of money (financial capital) to invest, we have other forms of capital like our ideas, knowledge, creativity, time, energy, our ability to network with others, and our relationship with God that we can offer.

He reminds us that a few people, as small as a household, a family or a neighborhood can commit to be in mission together, change lives in their little corner of the world, and can do so if they are willing to offer the various forms of capital they are given.

So what forms of capital are you willing to invest so you can join with others to change lives where you live, work, and recreate? Do you have a little time, a couple of ideas, an ability or two or your relationship with God to offer to others so that their lives may be changed? Want to make a difference in someone’s life, in your neighborhood, your community or world? Invest some capital.

The Rev. Ed Hackett, Jr. is the pastor of the Foothills United Methodist Church in Gloversville.