Have you ever considered the importance of sharing your time and money – yes, your money – with those that are less fortunate? It often seems that we live in a world where “Me, me, me!” is the battle cry.
Consider sharing your time and money with others. You’ll be surprised by the benefits you receive by sharing your resources. Most of us feel we don’t have any time or money to spare, but that’s rarely the case. Even a couple of hours or a few dollars each week can make a meaningful difference.
My Christian readers are already familiar with the mystery of giving – maybe you haven’t heard it worded like that, though?
Spend any time in the Gospels and you’ll see it over and over again.
Give your life to gain it.
Give away your treasures to gain a far greater one.
Give to the poor and hungry.
Give to the hurting and imprisoned.
Give until it hurts.
In fact, I once heard a pastor sum up everything Jesus said about money with “Don’t worry about it and, when you have some, give it away.”
Even under the Old Covenant, giving was entrenched in the rules.
But why? What is so incredible about giving?
Well, a lot happens when you practice cheerful generosity.
You enhance your community
When you donate your time and money locally, your community is improved. Yes, strangers, friends and family benefit from your generosity, but so do you. Take an active part in your community and help everyone around you, and watch your community prosper.
One charity that I am always happy to help with is the Salvation Army Christmas Kettles. The Kettles are so familiar, such a part of Christmas, that even those who aren’t involved in the Salvation Army recognize them from movies! What most people don’t realize, though, is that your donations remain in your community, helping your neighbours, friends and family. The Salvation Army keeps overhead low and 82% of the money raised is used to provide food and shelter to people in your community all year.
When we build up the people in our communities, we all prosper.
Generosity boosts your position in the community
This might not occur to you, or you might not think it’s important, but people will begin to recognize that you’re a generous and trustworthy person.
Volunteering can help your career and overall social status.
You never know the people you might meet along the way. Think about someone you know who is always willing to help others, that person who “would give the shirt off his back to help someone in need”.
You probably trust them, don’t you?
Why would this be important? Well, it all increases your ability to give even more since you will be trusted with larger and more important projects.
People who regular practice generosity have fewer health issues and often live longer
You can expect to be healthier and happier if you volunteer regularly.
Several studies suggest that volunteering is more beneficial to seniors than diet and exercise are. Not to discount the importance of diet and exercise, of course, but the simple act of being useful to another person improves your own health dramatically.
And of course those health benefits are not limited to seniors.
Helping others can be a great distraction from your own challenges
Did your mother ever tell you to get your mind off your own troubles by helping someone else? She should have.
Get down to your local soup kitchen, volunteer to bring blankets to the street people, or sign up to cuddle and rock sick infants at your nearest children’s hospital.
It is difficult to feel sorry for ourselves when we spend time helping others. Helping to feed a hungry mother and child can make you grateful that, while you may not be eating steak and caviar, you do have food in your cupboards and a safe roof over your head.
When I was a child, we used to sing a little chorus that said, “J.O.Y. J.O.Y. Surely this must be – Jesus first, Yourself last and Others in between.” As an adult, I found out that the Old Order Mennonites teach their children that same little song.
Perhaps it seems counter intuitive, but getting your mind off yourself and onto others is the surest path to joy that I have found.
Feel good about yourself
Helping others give us another reason to feel good about ourselves.
Unfortunately, far too many of us internalize our society’s unhealthy attitudes and in turn develop an unhealthy self-esteem. (Not a low self-esteem – many of us esteem ourselves far too highly, which is just as unhealthy!)
When we do something that is kind and helpful to others, we can develop a healthy pride and sense of accomplishment. There is nothing unhealthy about recognizing that you can be useful in improving the lives of others – and no matter your resources and talents, there is always some way that you can help others.
The more you give, the more you get
In my experience – and it may feel differently to others – giving of yourself and your resources requires a lot of trust.
You must trust that the supply is still going to be there for you.
You must trust that it’s not a zero sum situation, that you don’t lose when another gains.
And when you do that, and cheerfully open up your arms and hands to give, something very strange happens. As you give, you get. Perhaps it’s because of my upbringing in the Salvation Army, but I have always had the firm assurance that I could always give to someone in need because my needs would still be met.
In other words, if I have a cookie and you have none, I will give you my cookie and take joy in your pleasure because I know that I can always get another cookie from the cookie jar.
Over and over again, this has proven to be true in my life.
Your social circle will grow
This is especially true if you donate your time.
Not only will you meet the people you help, but you will find others who love to volunteer and help others. Not surprisingly, they can make great friends. When you spend your time around people who are motivated toward the good of others, you will find yourself growing and becoming a better person.
Volunteers and other community-minded people aren’t likely to be “friend jealous” – that is, they will take joy in introducing you to new people that you will like and want to know.
Discover that your life is better than you thought
You may have a few challenges, but you’re likely to come across others with challenges that are far greater. Realizing how difficult life is for some people makes your own issues seem a little easier to manage. Your perspective is changed.
Gain a sense of purpose
When you choose a volunteering opportunity, it makes sense that you’ll select a cause you believe in. Parents might volunteer at a parent resource center. Older adults
When you choose a volunteering opportunity, you’ll naturally choose a cause that you believe is meaningful. When you spend your time on meaningful activities, you’re filled with a sense of purpose.
Find an organization that resonates with your values. You’ll look forward to the time you spend there.
There are many people that need help for one reason or another. You can gain a new perspective that makes your own life seem more manageable.
You’ll also expand your social circle and enhance your position in the community. Help others and help yourself in the process. You can’t do something nice for someone else without benefiting in some way. Over 75% of the population doesn’t volunteer in any capacity. Even one hour each week can provide benefits, both to others and you.
“When you start giving, instead of getting, you make a difference. You can always give a warm smile, a sincere hello, a positive vibe… your attention, your time, your love, and kindness to those around you.” ― Roy T. Bennett
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