Intangibles are things that are incapable of being perceived by the senses especially the sense of touch (WordNet). They could be positive or negative. In human relations, positive intangibles are virtues while negative intangibles are vices. When people engage in virtuous acts, they receive blessings (tangible and intangible forms) as rewards for their acts. Conversely, vicious acts attract curses. The focus of this article is on positive intangibles.
In every sphere of human life, intangibles are more valuable than tangible items. This applies to our personal, business and professional lives. For instance, when a company starts out in business, the bulk of its assets are accounted for by physical (tangible) items of plant and machinery, building, stock of raw materials and finished goods such that the value of the company is the sum of the estimated value of all the physical assets. But as the company continues to do well in business, a new class of asset (intangible) appears. This intangible asset is called goodwill. For reputable businesses that have been around for a reasonable length of time, the value of goodwill sometimes exceed the value of all physical assets put together.
In professional practice, intangible asset comes in form of ‘track record’ of the professional in question. To appreciate the value of a good track record, imagine a close member of your family is to undergo a major surgery. What will be your primary concern? If you are like most people, you will be concerned about the professional competence of the surgeon who will perform the surgery. If you are told that the surgeon has done 100 similar surgeries with 100% success rate, your mind will likely be at rest. Based on the surgeon’s track record (an intangible asset), s/he will command higher value than other surgeons who haven’t got his or her kind of track record.
What applies to business and professional practices also apply to our personal lives. The intangible portion of our assets which has the potential of exceeding the sum total of our physical assets is our reputation – how we are perceived by others. It yields huge dividends when it is positive and can be detrimental when it is negative. It’s unimaginable the benefits that can accrue to you when people perceive you to be honest, trustworthy and a person of integrity. On the other hand, a person adjudged to be unreliable is a living dead, no matter the amount of tangible assets s/he has.
Just like the above example of a company starting out in business, in our personal lives, the tendency is to start out with our focus on tangible assets (cars, houses, and other gadgets). Though this is not wrong in itself, the challenge is when we refuse to transit from the tangible to the intangible with the passage of time. It is an evidence of lack of growth. Apostle Paul said: “When I was a child, I spoke as a child; I understood as a child, I thought as a child; but when I became a man, I put away childish things.” Refusing to garner positive intangibles makes you a child irrespective of how old you are.
To experience the higher life, however, we are better off making intangibles our primary focus. We achieve this by seeking first theKingdom of God and His righteousness (intangibles) and as we do this, other things (tangible things) are added to us.
Intangibles are the prime factors of life. In Mathematics, prime factors are numbers divisible by themselves and one only, intangibles are divisible by themselves alone. This means that they (intangibles) are an end (the final stop) in themselves. For instance, you need joy for joy, peace for peace not for something else. Tangible items, on the other hand, have many factors; they are a means to an end. You need money not for money but for the many things money can buy. What God does in relating with His obedient children (who made seeking Him first their priority) is that He bypasses the trappings of tangible things and gives them the intangibles (peace, joy, etc). In effect, when you ask God for money, He may choose to give you what you want money for instead of giving you money. God can do this because He knows what your deepest needs. When you peacefully occupy a house you didn’t build, that’s God in action. Isaiah 55:1 says: “Ho! Everyone who thirsts, come to the water and you who have no money, come, buy and eat. Yes, come, buy wine and milk without money and without price.” To access both tangibles and intangibles (righteousness, peace and joy) that God gives, you must show the intangibles (fruits of the Spirits) that He wants to see in you.
The scripture is replete with injunctions for God’s children to go for intangibles. Jesus said in Matthew 16:26a “For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world (tangible things) and loses his own soul (intangible).” There’s no ultimate gain in a life devoted to the strict pursuit of tangible things. The reason is: tangible things are fleeting. In 2 Corinthians 4:18, we read: “While we do not look at the things which are seen (tangible things), but at the things which are not seen (intangibles). For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal.”
The value of intangibles is that they are invaluable. Jesus asked: “…what will a man give in exchange for his soul?” (Matthew 16:26b). Nothing!!!