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What, How and Why to Give - Not Just During Lent
I need help myself...I don't have anything to give
There is a very incorrect notion going around that 'giving' means giving money. Maybe it is because many people remember the story of the widows mite in the Bible or there is always some story in the news about some millionaire giving money to someone or a prominent company giving money to some cause.
Each and every one of us can give, irrespective of our age, history, financial situation, ethnicity, social status, etc. because as Mother Teresa (1910 - 1997) so perfectly says, "It's not how much we give but how much love we put into giving."
So take this journey with me as I share with you just how easy this business of giving is by showing you the how, what (14 ways of giving ) and why of giving.
Image credit: Give to Humanity by Aphrodite / Flickr.com
WHY Should You Give?
The Holy Bible lists countless reasons why we should all give, which I will share with you shortly.
However, the best summary explanation for why we should all give is contained in the Holy Bible in Luke 6:38 which states, "Give to others, and God will give to you. Indeed, you will receive a full measure, a generous helping, poured into your hands—all that you can hold. The measure you use for others is the one that God will use for you".
Isn't that something? So in effect, what this biblical verse tells us is that giving does not mean that we will have less for ourselves, as some people tend to think, but rather that we have more to gain the more we give!
If you're wondering how this could be so, let me explain from my own experiences. I have been surprised many times by the generous giving of others who reminded me of times I did this for them or that or the other.
And the truth is that when I gave it to them - whether it was a tangible or intangible giving - I never realized how much that meant to that person at that time of my giving. So when they gave to me - tangible or intangible giving - and told me what my giving on a previous occasion had done for them, it was as if I had received a double gift.
That is why I have made it a point of telling people thank you and praying for them whenever they give me something – tangible or intangible. Something good of course! Giving me 'lip' or attitude doesn’t get a reward from me :)
Image credit: symphony of love/ Flickr.com
"...givers are the rare breed of people who contribute to others without expecting anything in return.” With his own groundbreaking research, Adam Grant shows that givers have a surprising impact on their success as well as the success of others.
HOW Should You Give?
In Matthew 12:41, Jesus compared the quality of giving done by a widow and some rich people when he pointed out to his disciples, “I tell you that this poor widow put more in the offering box than all the others. For the others put in what they had to spare of their riches; but she, poor as she is, put in all she had—she gave all she had to live on.”
This is why, especially during Lent Catholics are called to give sacrificially, not from their excesses, but from what they need.
Kahlil Gibran, in my opinion, does an excellent job of explaining what exactly ‘generosity in giving’ is when he states that, “Generosity is not giving me that which I need that you do, but it is giving me that which you need more than I do.”
Give ANONYMOUSLY - Without Broadcasting It
There are a few loafers and freeloaders in our world but by and large many people like to be able to provide for themselves and feel ashamed when they have to receive help from other people.
You can make your giving, especially monetary giving, as painless as possible for the person to whom you are giving financial help if you avoid broadcasting it to others. No matter how generous your gift is, it makes the person receiving it feel less than a person when you broadcast it to all and sundry. Please save them the embarrassment.
Even the Bible supports this kind of quiet giving since it declares, “So when you give something to a needy person, do not make a big show of it, as the hypocrites do in the houses of worship and on the streets. They do it so that people will praise them. I assure you, they have already been paid in full. But when you help a needy person, do it in such a way that even your closest friend will not know about it. Then it will be a private matter. And your Father, who sees what you do in private, will reward you.” (Matthew 6:2-4).
Image credit: Julie/ Flickr.com
This book provides you with a host of useful ideas for giving, for both adults and children, as well as some really inspiring stories about what giving did for the giver and/or the receiver.
Khalil Gibran on Giving & Prayer (The Prophet)
WHAT Can You Give? - Here are 14 Things that YOU Can Give
1. Give TIME
With only 24 hours in each day, it can feel at times that we don’t have enough time to ourselves, let alone to give to others.
In order to find time, however, you need to set aside time (as little as half an hour), to dedicate to someone else’s need each week. Being specific about it increases the likelihood of you giving that time on a regular basis.
That dedicated time could be set aside for a particular person or several different people over time; whether it is quality time spent with your spouse, significant other, children, an elderly relative, a hurting neighbour, co-worker or friend.
Watch this truly inspiring video below to see how one 8 year old boy is always giving his time to his autistic 6 year old brother. A confirmation that age is not a barrier to giving.
Image credit: Alan Cleaver / Flickr.com
Sports Illustrated Kids 2012 SportsKids of the Year: Conner and Cayden Long (OFFICIAL)
2. Give SUPPORT
There are many ways and many circumstances in which you can give support to someone.
Some instances when people usually need support include the loss of a loved one (husband, wife, child, or other relative, close friend etc.), loss of a job, divorce, end of a friendship or relationship, suffering with a terminal illness such as cancer or a debilitating illness such as a stroke.
You can provide support by helping with funeral arrangements, cooking a healthy meal in order to ensure that the person is eating and to encourage them to eat properly.
You can help the person job search by keeping an eye out for advertisements or announcements of job openings or approaching someone you know well who is in a position to hire persons with his/her skills.
Spending a night or two at the hospital or home of the person, in order to ease up/give a break to those who are providing constant care to a sick person is also a very good way of giving support.
Image credit: William N. / Flickr.com
3. Give A LISTENING EAR
As long as we are living, there is always something that will warrant us needing to vent our feelings.
Being able to do some positively is a great relief. Sometimes just having someone around to listen to our hurts, pains, betrayals, injustices done to us, disappointments, fears, anxieties, problems etc. can provide relief and prevent us from getting depressed or sick.
Give someone a listening ear so that they can vent about what bothers them and heal their emotional pains. You may even be able to provide that person with solutions or even better yet, help them work out their problem(s) in their own mind or how they should deal with a particular situation as they pour out their heart to you.
Yes! For some people, clarity of direction sometimes comes after verbally venting their frustrations.
Image credit: Imad Haddad / Flickr.com
4. Give KIND COMPLIMENTS
It doesn’t take much to pay someone a nice and true compliment.
For example, whether I am in my home country or travelling, people seem to compliment me on my smile a lot when I do smile (I think I need to smile more often because more often than not I have a serious face) and that makes me feel good.
You can make someone feel good and lift their spirits or lighten their mood by complimenting their smile, hairstyle, how they look in a dress, pants, shirt, skirt etc., the way they laugh, the perfume they’re wearing, their earrings, necklace or chain and more.
Just make sure it is an honest compliment.
Image credit: Caro Wallis / Flickr.com
5. Give GROCERIES/FRUITS & VEGETABLES
I have come to the firm conclusion that I will never starve because someone is always giving me fruits or vegetables of one kind or another.
Just today, one of my neighbours gave me a big piece of yam (I really LOVE crushed yams) and before that one of my Aunts gave me some green peas from her garden.
Why not give some of the produce (fruits, vegetables, herbs, provision) that you grow in your vegetable garden? Or you can buy some groceries from the supermarket and give to someone in need.
Image credit: Robin DeGrassi James / Flickr.com
6. Give FLOWERS
I am just not into growing flowers but my mother had a 'green thumb'.
Her flowers always looked great in front of our home and in her flower garden and she would sometimes pot a plant and give it to someone as a gift.
You can pot a plant and give it to someone, like my mother used to do, or assemble some fresh cut flowers in a bouquet and give it to someone. If you don't have a 'green thumb' like my mother, then you can also buy fresh flowers and give.
Image credit: Alex / Flickr.com
Teach Children to Give!
An interest and very thought provoking book that is open to interpretation which you can use to teach children between the ages of 1 and 8 years old valuable life lessons, such as not always taking and taking from others without ever giving anything in return or not always giving and giving until there is nothing left of self.
Either extremes are dysfunctional.
This is a very useful and practical offering folder for a Sunday School class, regular class or a few households with children.
The children can see how each offering adds up. Each folders holds up to $10 in 25 cents coins. Perfect for small children.
7. Give CRAFT, ART or a PAINTING
If you are a crafter, artist or painter, then crafting, drawing or painting something for someone is an excellent and personal way of giving something to someone.
Paintings, drawings, and craft often last very long. Paint or draw a portrait or some other cheerful scene or animal painting that will leave the receiver of your gift speechless with awe.
You might just like these lovely Painting, Art & Craft gift ideas…
Image credit: Liz Gealach / Flickr.com
YOUR Gift Giving Meter
Which of these gifts have you GIVEN lately?
8. Give SEWING or KNITTING or CROCHETING
I know a friend who knits beautiful baby clothes and gives them as presents (gifts) to family and friends who anticipate receiving them from her.
You can sew, knit or crochet something to give to an expectant pregnant mother for her baby or a kitchen item such as a potholder, mittens, towel or window curtains.
Quilting a spread for the bedroom or covering for some other furniture or crocheting a piece for a table top are all good gift ideas.
Image credit: meaganmakes / Flickr.com
9. Give BAKED GOODIES or a HOME COOKED MEAL
Do you bake lovely cakes, pastries or pies? Can you cook up a storm? Do you make a special dish that everyone raves about?
Then give it to someone as a gift on no special occasion or on a special occasion.
I have an Aunt who cooks almost daily for someone in her neighbourhood and a friend of mine does a kind of ‘Meals on Wheels’ project, giving food to homeless people each week.
Image credit: Photos compliments Heidi Vincent
10. Give SINGING or MUSIC
When I was younger, I belonged to a Church group called the ‘Legion of Mary’ and each week we were tasked with visiting an elderly person and spending quality time with them.
On those visits I often sang for those elderly persons and they actually enjoyed it very much and looked forward to my visits.
Why not give the gift of song and music to someone by singing songs for them or playing music on a musical instrument that you play?
You can even record a CD with selected songs that the person will like or buy one of their favourite albums or music from their favourite singer.
Here is some music that might interest you...
11. Give CLOTHES
Giving old or torn clothes that you do not want is a great insult to any person’s dignity!
Always ensure that whatever clothes you give to someone, you would still wear yourself.
A good idea would be to do a sort of spring cleaning of your clothes closet each year and give away clothes that have gotten too small for you or that you just don’t wear often and which are just sitting in your closet.
You can also purchase simple, brand new items of clothing for someone in need; especially underwear, socks and bras.
Image credit: net_efekt / Flickr.com
This offering folder can be used for older children and teenagers who normally have more spending money or even adults. It can hold 20 $1 bills, 20 $5 bills, 20 etc.
12. Give MONEY
Giving money can be a life saver for someone who has lost his/her job and for whom the employment situation has been dragging on for a long time, someone who may be facing a financial challenge, a financial crisis or who is no longer able to work because of illness or disability.
Giving money will be an especially welcome gift for persons facing any of these situations. You can give money to cover a bill or two, give a lump sum or give over a period of time.
Remember, their saved funds (savings) would be running low or would be completely depleted the longer their unemployment situation/sickness/disability continues.
And most importantly, remember to do it discreetly in order to save the person further embarrassment about their unemployed status/illness/disability.
Image credit: SalFalko / Flickr.com
13. Give THANKS
I make it a habit to give God thanks each morning and at night for all the little and big things that He provided for me during the day.
I also make a habit of thanking people in person for any good thing that they did or gave me during the day.
I actually designed my own simple spiritual ‘Thank You tags to say thank you to people.
Image credit: symphony of love / Flickr.com
14 Give from Whatever You Have Received
BLESSINGS You Have Received
Which of these gifts have you RECEIVED lately?
© 2014 Heidi Vincent