Different Ways of Giving

It’s close to the end of 2010, and time for New Year’s resolutions.  On the physical side, some of us might resolve to eat less and exercise more.  On the spiritual side, it might be to spend less and give more.  While you can set giving goals in terms of percentages and absolute amounts, I’d also like to encourage you to broaden your idea of what constitutes “giving.”

Giving money is great, but without a personal connection it can feel empty.  I believe there must be a personal connection for giving to be fulfilling.  One way to begin establishing such connections is to volunteer.  You can get to know both the organization and the people it helps.  And an organization can help defuse the potentially awkward power dynamics of giving money directly to people in need.

If you want direct deep person-to-person interactions in your volunteering, you might consider mentoring.  Big Brother and Big Sisters is probably the most well-known mentoring organization.  Or if you live in a community with these needs, or know people through work or church, you might do more informal mentoring.  Alternatively, consider the flip side by finding a mentor for yourself, a pastor or other respected leader who can help teach you how to live simply and give joyfully.

Maybe you feel the need to tell others and help propagate the message of economic discipleship.  We set up this blog as a space for people to comment and write posts.  Do you have any stories or thoughts to share?  We’d be happy to hear from you.  Or perhaps you’d like to advocate by leading a Giving Group in the area where you live.  Or maybe ask your pastor to preach on the subject in the coming months.  Or organize a charity benefit with your friends, which can both collect money and educate participants.

Finally, you might consider how your vocation fits into giving.  Many people who believe in the principles of economic discipleship find themselves in professions where they don’t make a lot of money but are able to help the needy directly.  If you’re in this category, great!  You’re giving your life already, and any financial giving is above and beyond.  If on the other hand, you find yourself in a profession where making money is the primary goal, you have a larger obligation to donate money.  “From those who are given much, much will be asked.”  The world needs donors as well as workers on the front lines.  Finally, you might find yourself in the fortunate position of being both a donor and a front-line worker.  Kudos to my friend Grace who is a doctor with 3 kids and still finds time to volunteer overseas.

In summary, I’d like you to consider giving in many ways as you make your New Year’s resolutions.  And if you think of other ones I haven’t listed, please leave a comment and let us know.  Happy New Year!

2 thoughts on “Different Ways of Giving

  1. Thanks for challenging us to broaden our perspective in giving, Ed! In addition to the above, I would humbly submit the following as ways we can give of our health, another resource in which we are wealthy (but don’t think of usually when we think about giving):

    -Donate blood! According to the American Red Cross, every two seconds someone in the U.S. needs blood, and more than 38,000 blood donations are needed every day. For those of us who weigh >110 pounds, haven’t traveled abroad recently and are relatively healthy, this is such a simple way to give what is literally life–because blood cannot be manufactured.

    -Donate your organs! Sign up to be an organ donor after death. More than 100,000 men, women and children currently need life-saving organ transplants, and an average of 18 people die each day from the lack of available organs for transplant. Americans can commit to donation by visiting http://www.donatelife.net/CommitToDonation/.

    -Sign up to be a bone marrow donor! There are fewer statistics on this, but bone marrow is integral to the treatment of diseases like leukemia, lymphoma and sickle cell anemia. Minorities especially tend to be underrepresented, and you if you want to register to be a donor, you can visit http://www.marrow.org/JOIN/index.html?src=tabjoin.

    I have to admit that while I’m signed up to be an organ and bone marrow donor and have tried several times to donate blood, my attempts at the latter have been thus far unsuccessful because of the weight minimum! So if you weigh less than 110 pounds, you can’t donate less; you just can’t donate–a PSA for other small people, I suppose.

    Happy giving!

  2. Ed, I like the way you validated those of us who’ve chosen lower paying vocations that enable us to “help directly” as well ones in which “making money is the primary goal.” One of my favorite things about this blog so far is that, among people who read it, there seems to be a good mix of those two groups. I really value the exchange of perspectives that it allows. Happy New Year!!

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