Last week my good friend and fellow SoCal Youth Ministry Mafia member Jordan challenged his readers to give to someone unexpectedly. You can read about it on Jordan’s blog.
I was excited at first because I know there are so many opportunities in my life to give to others. But that’s the problem, there are SO many opportunities to give. I didn’t know where to start, so took a few days to process through my thinking behind how I give, and asked God to open my eyes to the places where I needed to give, as opposed to the places I could give. My mailbox is full of giving opportunities to great and worthy causes. There are hundreds of charities all over the world that could do more to change the world with my money than I ever could alone. And then I came across a passage in 1 Timothy 3 that got me thinking.
Paul is writing the letter to Timothy, a young leader in the Church. In the third chapter Paul is giving his charge to those who seek to be overseers or deacons in the church. Paul calls this a noble task, and then sets the bar very high for those who seek to lead. And right there in the middle of this charge Paul says that a leader must manage his own family well because, “If anyone does not know how to manage his own family, how can he take care of God’s church?”
This got me thinking. I gave to several different people last week; I gave my neighbor some food. I gave the guy in rehab who sells papers at the corner some coffee on a rainy day. And I gave one of my kids a $10 card to Jamba Juice to give to a friend. I bought lunch for a few people, made some Kiva loans, and possibly did a few more things that I don’t remember. All of those things felt good, and I hope they cause others to know the love of Christ.
But what about managing my own family?
It hit me like a brick that all of those opportunities to give were great, and I was able to give with a cheerful heart, but they wouldn’t mean much if I wasn’t taking care of my own family. What kind of example am I being if I focus on the rest of the world and leave the people I love the most unattended? This completely changed my motivation for giving. It wasn’t about taking advantage of an opportunity, it was about giving to the people that I love the most.
So I bought my sister some Gerbera Daisies, her favorite flowers. She’s working at a prestigious accounting firm in Boston and she isn’t even 24. More importantly, she’s making great relationships there and is active in her church. Most Importantly, she has an amazing love for God. I couldn’t be more proud of my sister, and she needs to get gifts from her brother.
I also bought my Mom some flowers (yellow roses, the state flower of Texas) because I love my mom, and she deserves to have flowers for her house. She taught me the importance of knowing God’s love, and taught me how to show God’s love. She needs to get gifts from her son.
Giving to others is important, and I need to set an example of this in my life. But the most important giving is the giving that starts at home. That’s what I learned this week by being called to give purposefully.
One love, one heart.