The Car Ride That Changed My Life

The investment in a person.

Although it sounds like a heavy, calculated decision to make, it doesn’t have to be that way at all. Even the smallest act of kindness and assurance of someone else’s value can have the mightiest impact on their lives…and yours. Life courses are changed and blessings are discovered when nothing is left to chance. There is purpose in every action.

The second principle in my forthcoming book You Make My Life Rich is:

Invest in Others

The idea that a rich life is one that seeks investment in other people.

The idea that investing in people yields compound opportunity.

Every decision leads us somewhere.

I am a living example of how the smallest investment made long ago still compounds in dividends today.

Doug and Susu at our twins dedication

My godparents, Doug and Susu, at our twins dedication

Thirty-five years ago, my dad played competitive softball on the weekends. Most of his tournaments were within a few hours’ drive, but no one had the convenience of gas money. So, carpooling was not only resourceful, but necessary.

Each and every weekend, he and his buddies would congregate in the local mall parking lot and flip quarters to see who would drive. Then they would load up the cars and hit the road.

Like any other social group, there are cliques within the team. So much so that a new player usually drove by himself. Should that new player be dating one of the other players’ ex-girlfriends, he was definitely riding solo.

Doug Treadway, the newest new guy, stepped away from the crowd one Saturday morning, resolved to drive alone. But just as he did so, one of the other players spoke up. It was my father, Derrick Ham.

“I’ll ride with him.”

Dad took a chance on Doug and offered his companionship that day. The investment probably seemed insignificant at the time, but actually, it changed everything for both of them. They developed a unique bond that weekend.

A year later, Doug helped Dad get an interview with the same company where he worked, and thirty-three years later, Dad and Doug still work together. And it’s so much more than a job. It’s a lifetime friendship; a bond whose memories are so thick, the nostalgia has to be brushed away when it’s recalled.

But the most impactful part is one I’ve never talked about. An odd thing for me even to write about. But, in this moment, I see a clear picture of how God’s plans are more incredible than we can imagine.

A few years after Dad rode with Doug, I was born.

My parent’s first child.

Because of their friendship, my parents asked Doug and his wife, Susan, to be my godparents, a term used within the church to describe the relationship of those who will come alongside the birth parents and set an example for their child; a commitment to pour into this child’s life and to love him and nourish him in his faith.

I believe that in His infinite wisdom God knew something when He brought these families together.

Throughout the passing of time, Doug and Susan fought a battle with infertility. Despite years of trying, they were never able to conceive a child. But somewhere within the pain and struggle they were experiencing, I believe God had other plans.

I believe God used Dad’s investment into Doug that very first day to bring a lifetime of blessings to a couple who wouldn’t have children of their own. That ride in the car those years prior became so much more. The gift of life. The gift of friendship. The gift of love.

A few years later my brother, Mark, was born. Naturally, Doug and Susan became his godparents as well.

Birthdays, holidays, vacations, baseball games, school functions, graduations, weddings…you name it, we had two sets of parents there.

I’ve never spoken at length with anyone about this and I certainly don’t want to appear pretentious to assume myself as a blessing. The point isn’t me at all.

It’s the realization of how a simple decision to look out for someone else opens the floodgates of blessings.

And not only in others’ lives, but in yours as well.

Doug and Susu have blessed my brother’s and my lives beyond anything we’ve ever deserved. My three sons have an additional set of grandparents who are now investing in them. The fact that we aren’t blood kin has little bearing on our love for each other. The bond is much deeper than blood; it’s kindled in the soul.

And it all goes back to my dad simply offering to ride along with the new guy.

You make decisions every day, but don’t fool yourself into thinking they don’t matter.

They matter tremendously.

Investing compounds. It multiplies its blessings as we continue to pour into the lives of others. This is why the book of Philippians instructs us to “look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.”

Opening up your life to look at the interests of others is an act of obedience to our call to be givers. We are called to serve.

Maya Angelou said, “Giving liberates the soul of the giver.”

Ironically, giving is the path to freedom; an essential principle to live richly.

Give. Love. Live. Richly


Question: Can you think of any “small” decisions that have radically changed the course of your life? What opportunities to invest in others are around you today?

Three tips:

  1. Everyone can invest – it has nothing to do with money. Time, resources, smiles, friendship are all investments.
  2. It starts where you are – at home, at work, in your family – Who can reach out to today?
  3. Remove yourself – break down your walls and let down your guard. Let love in.

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3 Responses to The Car Ride That Changed My Life

  1. Robby Robbins May 1, 2014 at 3:06 pm #

    Great point, in my 12 years with our cycling ministry we had nearly 250 riders,
    volunteers and sponsors. Many of those came from very different backgrounds than mine but we formed bounds that kept us together. I was blessed to ride bike with hemophiliacs, people with HIV, Parkinson’s, HEP C, MS, bypass survivors, cancer survivors and on and on and on. Each year we got countless emails from them stating how important it was to be encouraged, welcomed and loved. When you ride a bicycle 150 miles for the first time you build relationships and memories that go on for a lifetime. Many of them can remember their first ride was 10 miles and they thought they would never ride 150. But by “investing” in others we helped then step by step for 4 months to accomplish the task. They never forget that.

    • Matt Ham May 2, 2014 at 4:12 am #

      Robby what a GREAT testimony to investing in others and what a great accomplishment for them. 150 miles is a LONG way on a bicycle. I have a hard enough time with 56 🙂

      I’m positive that the impact on their lives will send ripples into the future of many.

      Thanks for sharing!

  2. Anne Peterson May 13, 2014 at 3:33 pm #

    Really enjoyed your post, Matt. Investing in others is so important. There are people who have never experienced this and my heart breaks for them. It’s obvious you see the value as both you and your brother have enjoyed the benefits. Thanks for sharing.