Everyone wants a piece of the gift giving season, and are you searching for the perfect gift? You may not know what to give those who are closest to you, and yet you have a unique opportunity. God’s amazing gift of life changing eternal grace is very poorly imitated by our efforts to give others a gift for Christmas. But, you can certainly step up your gifts from the usual trinkets and items that end up in the landfill!
In reality, we are often unable to give the gift that most people need. The number two problem people face is MONEY. There is the minority, who have too much and it distracts them from their purpose on this earth, or the majority who have too little and they cannot make ends meet. Did you know that money conflict is the number one reason for divorce? You’re likely aware that most people also live pay-cheque to pay-cheque with little or no plan in place for their finances.
In the movie Pay It Forward a fictional social studies teacher gives an assignment to his junior high class to think of an idea to change the world for the better. Then put it in action.
One student passionately contrives a plan of paying forward good deeds for 3 other people. Choose the people do the good deeds. The story unfolds his actions which not only affects the life of his struggling single mother, but also starts a wave of human kindness that grows into a national movement to change the world.
A feel good movie that stirs in everyone who watches it the good intentions to put the concept into practice. It’s exciting to think that a small act on our part can have big and far reaching impact. But for many that intention just fizzles – it gets parked along with the other “someday” to-dos. That’s how it used to be for me. But I’ve learned something.
Earn, invest, and spend! Giving and being generous were not part of the conversation. A culture of consumption led me down a self absorbed road for a long time. Even though there’s been a shift towards generosity and giving in our culture, it’s a small step towards a great goal. Truth is most people don’t know how to give. That was me – 35 years old and self serving. Self examination doesn’t show us how greedy we are…..you can’t see it in the mirror.
Has anyone taught you how to be rich by giving? Society, culture, TV, advertising taught our parents to want it all and to overspend to get it. This left them with little to be generous with. Few schools teach how to give. Then fear of the future robs us of our desire to give and be generous. Often we don’t give as we value security, not only materialism, hoarding our possessions. There is often competition for Lordship in our lives between God and money.
How can you change? What’s the process?
Start with the foundation…..
Jesus himself reminds us, “…you cannot serve both God and money”.
Then consider the real security in life…..
“Therefore, do not worry about your life”
Jesus assures us we don’t have to worry about our life because God’s promised to take care of us.
……further Jesus teaches in verse 33,
But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.
Then start praying…..
God what do you want me to do with all you’ve entrusted to me?
Last week I gave you a glimpse of an opportunity to be a hero! Is it a hero’s task? When 2.6 billion people lack adequate drinking water and safe sanitation and 3.4 million die annually from unsafe water and water related diseases?
Yes – hero’s take on an impossible task and give it everything they have!
As a businessman, when spending money, my #1 question is : What’s my Return On Investment, my ROI? Whether it’s making a purchase, an investment or donating money.
I visited Kenya, three years ago, and helped provide clean drinking water solution for two villages. And, yes, undoubtedly, the clean water provided saved lives. But wasit a good return on investment? The cost of providing clean water to two villages was over $100,000. To some, this may seem a crass and calculating – why am I telling you $ amounts? Isn’t every life worth saving regardless of cost?
Humbly, I want you to learn from my experiences and be a better hero! There is a much better solution to the clean drinking water problem with a much higher return on investment.
Stop looking around, over your shoulder or to social media to find a hero. Look in the mirror instead. You were created for a purpose and your life has meaning. Do you consider doing something unimaginably courageous? You can make a world of difference.
Whether you’re a Christian or not, doing this one thing will make you a hero and make a difference to the lives of millions of people! If you’re a Christian, even better, because we’re called by God to make disciples in all nations.
Three years ago, in a small rural Kenyan village, I saw a glorious thing. A dug well that provided water for thousands of villagers. But horror hit me when I took two steps and was introduced to the graves of the patriarchs of the village. Grandma and Grandpa were buried within feet of this precious water source were decomposing and turning this precious well into a contaminated water source that was killing villagers. The image continues to haunt me.
“We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.”
Every day, 1 billion people wake up to another day without safe drinking water. Children are sick and weak. There’s a constant struggle to find the most basic of human needs. Poverty grips 80% of the worlds’ population and won’t let go. The lack of safe drinking water is a crisis worldwide.
Here’s how this applies you. Watch this 3 minute video.
This young girl wants to buy 1,000,000 chickens – doesn’t that video make you scream – “what can I do to apply this teaching to my life to make a difference?” Through this and other events in my life, I realized being generous meant drilling wells as the most cost effective way to help the most people. But not everyone’s called to do this. However, everyone can make a difference by asking “how many people will I try to help”?
This is thin ice I’m stepping on; after all as Canadians we pride ourselves in helping around the world. But I really want you to wrestle with this for yourself. Don’t think about an image that we project and protect. Think about reality!
Are you getting what’s commonly known as “donor fatigue”? If one more person sends you a link to one more campaign – you’re going to lose it!?! Really though, it’s often the frequency of hearing about problems and needs that fatigues us. Statistics say Canadians give only 0.65% of our income to charity. Worse, only 25% give any support to charity. What’s the real problem then? I believe it’s donor fear not fatigue.
There’s a tension between generosity and fear. Materialism often masquerades as cautiousness. We struggle with selfishness and how much to accumulate. We think, what if we give too much? What if we don’t have enough for retirement? What if…
Here’s my scenario…..I meet people often and the majority of the time they are experiencing problems. No surprise there! We all have problems. But meetings are short and some problems are long….so conveying meaningful caring concern and attempting to help is often difficult. Trying to explain how, changed thinking changes your life over a meal or coffee….is impossible! Unless a tool to leverage the time is used.
That’s where all the resources in this blog come into the picture. But in the end of this post, I am not the hero. You are.
Have you had problems, found solutions and then shared the experience with other people? On so many levels our culture is exploding with this method of teaching and learning. Just think….Do it Yourself Network, Pintrest and so many, many others!
But when you have knowledge and are an expert at something you’re vulnerable. You can easily forget how the wisdom and knowledge was gained – you catch the “curse of knowledge”. So, here’s a suggestion.
Have you ever received a spontaneous gift, something truly unexpected? A small gift made a big impression on me. A few years ago a friend gave me a Santana CD. He just knew I liked the music and gave me the CD. Suddenly I became aware of the tension between my own selfishness, with my time and money, and generosity.
Here’s the struggle, we have limited time and money to give. Most of us might feel we don’t have margin in our lives. If we don’t make changes and become more open-handed, it’ll cost us in terms of how we’re perceived and how we’ll be remembered.