The economic collapse we’re experiencing was really a long time in coming and now that we’re looking backwards with clear and sober eyes, we can recognize the signs for what they were. Many of us were spending as though there was no tomorrow, investing our money without fully understanding or paying attention to the risks we were exposing ourselves to, and not saving enough for the rainy day that we know always comes.

I heard a minister speak recently about the need to continue to give to our churches even though we may be faced with tough choices as families and individuals. He talked about the worldwide economic mess and how we had been investing in the wrong things over the years.

He was right.

While we work to right our individual financial houses and nationally to correct our out of sync economy, as Christians, we must work to ensure that we learn the important lessons from this situation and not lose site of where we should really be investing our time, talent, and treasure – with our God.

So what are the investments that will “pay off” the most for us in both the short and long term? There are four sound investment categories:

Our faith
As people of faith we understand that we’re working towards the day when we’re reunited with our God. When there are no more tears, no more pain, no more suffering in any way. But as Earth-bound humans it can be all too easy for us to allow earthly pleasures and strife to distract us and lead us astray until we find ourselves trying to “serve two gods”. Each of us must reflect on how we can grow deeper in our faith, more consciously make God the center of our everyday lives, and share that joy with those around us in a community of faith, “for it is in giving that we receive, forgiving that we are pardoned, and in dying that we’re born to eternal life.”

We all know on some level that without our health we have nothing. It’s no secret that the cost of healthcare has skyrocketed. In 2007, General Motors spent $5.6 billion to provide health insurance to it’s 1.1 million workers and retirees. Living a healthier lifestyle benefits the companies we work for and therefore could positively impact our jobs as well as our personal financial situation. A healthy life is a joyful one, where we’re able to participate in the activities we love and continue to work as we need to. Reflect on the lifestyle choices you make that negatively impact your health. Choose the one single issue that’s most negative and resolve to improve in that area. If it’s smoking, quit. If it’s lack of exercise, get off the couch. Your body and your life were given to you by God. Not doing what you can to take good care of ourselves is not appreciating what He’s given us. We must lead the way for our families in this area acting as a positive role model for good health. And we can’t forget our emotional health.

We get frustrated because we want a promotion or to work on some project rather than doing our best where we are. That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t strive to improve our station or to achieve more, but it means being patient – listening for the messages God’s sending us, trusting that we’re in the place He needs us to be, and being faithful in our belief that all things happen when they’re supposed to. That doesn’t mean we sit by waiting for something to happen. Look for ways you can improve your key skills. Is there training available in your community or online? Do you have a friend who will teach you some software she knows if you teach her a skill you know? Do you have skills needed in a growing industry like healthcare? Can you take a certification program to begin a whole new career? Reach out to your local college, university, or trade school to investigate courses, schedules, and costs.

Our family
One of the benefits of having less money to spend is we look for creative ways to have fun and that often means spending more time with those we love. As spring comes, working in the yard is a great way to get things done while working together. It encourages talking about things in general, something family members may be loathe to do otherwise. Visiting local places of interest, bird watching, gardening, making dinner together, putting together a scrapbook from old photos are just several fun things you can do together that create memories that last a lifetime.

The recession isn’t going to end any time soon so it’s up to each of us to take action that will allow us to thrive in the future. One way is to invest in those things that truly matter and produce a return on investment that’s genuinely priceless: faith, health, family, and our own personal development. God is showing us the way if we only listen and observe.

Author's Bio: 

Winnie Anderson publishes The Mustard Seed, a twice-monthly ezine that shares information and tips to connect your faith to your work life. Ken Blanchard, author of The One Minute Manager and Lead Like Jesus calls her ebook "...provocative and reflective." Get a fr*ee chapter to Faith From 9 to 5: How to Overcome the Seven Deadly Sins and Live Your Faith at Work when you subscribe to The Mustard Seed.