Real Investments

The Latest Word from John Ed Mathison

Dennis Swanberg is one of the most effective comedians, impressionists, and preachers that I know. He had a 30-minute television program that we played on Frazer Christian Television called “The Swan.” He just finished a book, Shade Trees. It is about “real investments.” I had an opportunity to write an endorsement for the book. It should be out in April 2014.

Dennis Swanberg finished high school and nobody in his family had ever gone to college. He wanted to go. He had a football scholarship to Lamar University. He went for a couple of days and saw how it might be and he decided he wanted to go back home. He did.

There was a chaplain for his high school football program named Marshall Edwards. He told Dennis that he needed to go to school. He carried him to Baylor University. It wasn’t far from home. He helped him financially and gave him encouragement to get him into school. Dennis stayed at Baylor and played baseball and went on to seminary.

Marshall Edwards was responsible for the fact that Dennis went to college and seminary. He had invested in his life. People had invested in Marshall’s life.

As a high school senior Marshall was a brilliant student. He had an appointment to West Point and also a scholarship at Harvard. He elected to take neither of those offers. He wanted to do something in terms of ministry and went to Baylor. His father told him that he wouldn’t pay for anything if he went to Baylor.

Marshall chose to go to Baylor. He worked in the dining hall and had a couple of other odd jobs. Somebody sent checks to Baylor each month for Marshall. He didn’t know who it was. Throughout his college career there were checks that were received that helped him get through school.

He later was in the company of a lady named Mary Leila Ellington. She was Marshall’s senior high English teacher. He found out that she was the one that had sent the checks. Mary Leila made $5,000 a year. She had never married. She told Marshall, “You are my son. You are my investment for the future.”

Miss Ellington invested in Marshall, and Marshall invested in Dennis, and now Dennis is investing in the lives of other people. Each of us is where we are because somebody invested in us.

When Dennis graduated from seminary he went to work as a youth minister with Marshall Edwards. Another guy on that staff was Jay Wolf, Pastor of First Baptist Church, Montgomery, Alabama. Marshall’s investment in Jay, and consequently Jay’s investment in the lives of so many people today is just another branch of that tree of influence.

In thinking about my life there were some folks that invested in me when I was in junior high and high school. There were teachers and coaches and Sunday School teachers and Boy Scout leaders. They invested in me. Most of them were in volunteer positions and didn’t get paid anything. I have never fully appreciated the investment they made in me, but everyday that I live I am growing more conscious of it. I also want to be sure that I am investing in other people.

Who has made an investment in your life? Take the time to write down names. In whose life are you investing? How long will that list of names be?

Life that leaves a long legacy always beats a life that is lauded as a legend!

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