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Invest in High-Leverage Projects in 2019

I spent the first hours of this morning reflecting. I looked back on my last year in order to make adjustments that will help me in 2019. Richard Rohr gives this advice: “John the Baptist described Jesus as winnowing the grain from the chaff. If we don’t winnow, we spend a lot of time pr…
By Seth Barnes
By Seth Barnes

I spent the first hours of this morning reflecting. I looked back on my last year in order to make adjustments that will help me in 2019.

Richard Rohr gives this advice: “John the Baptist described Jesus as winnowing the grain from the chaff. If we don’t winnow, we spend a lot of time protecting ‘chaff’ or non-essentials.”

Two important points in applying this:

1. Winnowing is important in making a commitment that carries weight. Winnowing is sifting out the stuff that you don’t need. When you winnow wheat, you throw it in the air and the wind blows away the chaff. In life, we do that by applying criteria to a decision. Criteria like asking, “Will this connect to my life goals?”

Winnowing helps you to say no to opportunities that don’t fit with your values. Winnowing helps you to focus. To say a yes that carries weight, you must first say no to the things that won’t have impact.

Here’s my problem: I tend to embrace too much. I commit to people and projects without asking enough questions up front. Can you relate? I invest in too many people who don’t have a track record of following through on their promises, and in projects that won’t make much of a difference. I need to do a better job of winnowing out chaff up front.

2. We must fight our tendency to protect non-essentials. All movements die because the revolutionaries who started them are followed by those whose task is to protect what currently exists as opposed to starting something new. And entropy is perpetually corrupting the very thing they are protecting.

Without a commitment to continual discovery and renewal, they are inevitably protecting a pile of chaff.

This is why God gave his people the prophetic gift. Without the feedback that the prophets in our life give, we struggle to discern what is wheat and what is chaff. We need the perspective of others to avoid low-leverage investments of time.

High leverage

So on this last day of 2018, I’ve recommitted myself to invest in high-leverage projects and people. A high-leverage person takes your investment of advice or encouragement and applies it to their life. They recognize your investment as a gift and use it wisely. They give you a return that is disproportionately high.

A high-leverage project is one where you invest days of your life and you get years of impact in the lives of others. Tomorrow, I’m helping launch the Global Passion Project Competition. It’s for young people who want to make a difference in the world. We give them the opportunity to take on the world’s biggest problems.

We believe that their ideas and effort can make a difference. And we offer some amazing prizes to the winners, prizes like travel to Spain, South Africa or Guatemala, access to world-class mentors, and partnership with high-achieving teams.

It’s a project that has leverage. Who knows what incredible ideas may result? Young people have more capacity for faith than many of us who have encountered life’s inevitable setbacks and grown cynical. And they’ve got a whole lifetime ahead of them.

Your investment

Six questions to help you get more out of your investment of time in 2019:

1. What are you invested in now that is low leverage?

2. Is it chaff that needs to be winnowed?

3. How would you say no to it?

4. What are the problems that you care about that you could address?

5. What ideas or people could give you the greatest leverage in 2019?

6. Who could brainstorm with you about how best to invest?

To get you thinking about the opportunities you could invest in and jumpstart your thinking, let me encourage you to check out the Global Passion Project Competition. Maybe you know a young person who needs to enter it – imagine the leverage of your  investment in them if they were to win.

A whole new year is coming our way. You can make a much bigger difference in the lives of others than you may realize. Why not invest in high-leverage projects and people?

Comments (11)

  • I’ve always had a problem “filtering” what is worthwhile to invest my time in and what is a waste of time. Good perspective as I reflect on 2018 and set my goals for 2019…

    Happy New Year, Seth!

  • Well i have 40 plus 50 somethings going to nicaragua in january 2019….and will repeat it in january 2020….

  • Hi Seth…you nailed it for busy people! Great practical steps. This is one of my struggles as I continue to transition into the post-corporate phase. See you later this week at Launch, and next week at AIM (oh…lest you think I am one of those ‘no follow-through’ types… he chuckled ).

    PS – just watched the year-end video…awesome viewpoint of the ministry.

  • Hi David,

    I am transitioning from the corporate world (retirement is NOT the word)…and know there are tons of opportunities to assist AIM in their mission.

    PS – I am one of the gents heading to Nicaragua with Dave Reeves in January.

  • Upon further reflection (i.e. the Holy Spirit reminding me…)

    In my rush to embrace maximizing and leveraging high-return relationships (and wanting to be one of those myself), I need to remind myself of something. I am also called as a follower of Jesus to invest time in the widow and orphan…a hurting friend who needs someone to sit and listen…my 4 year old grandson who just wants to wrestle with me because his father is no longer there.

    I have to remind myself that task-oriented people (me) need to live out the compassion that Jesus had for those with needs…who had nothing to offer Him in return for His investment.

    I pray God will make in me a new heart of compassion…

    • If it’s a new heart of compassion, it will be amazing – I love the heart of compassion that I see in you now, Steve.

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Seth Barnes

I'm motivated to join God in his global reclamation project. He's on the move, setting his sons and daughters free from their places of captivity. And he's partnering with those of us who have been freed to go and free others.

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