Lessons from a Reluctant Giver

Growing up, I always thought that you had to do big, grand things to give to others.  Traveling to other countries, spending months in a soup kitchen, selling all of your worldly possessions to donate to charity. And I had a real problem with giving to others – because I wasn’t really wired that way.  I like to stay home, I don’t really want to spend my time that way and I like the small amount of things I own.  I always felt like this was a problem, because I was so reluctant to help others in these ways, it made me feel selfish and embarrassed.  But over the years, I’ve learned something about giving that really helped to change my perspective.


Use your gifts to help others. A few years ago, I heard a saying about “using your gifts” to serve a greater purpose and it really clicked for me.  I love to organize (wait for it) and I can use this to help others!  Sorting clothes, organizing a food pantry and helping others improve their lives through organization. Love it (really, I do love it).  This was something I could do and it would help others.  And once I figured this out, I began to invest my time in a different kind of service – behind the scenes and making sure the processes & operations were in place to help make things run smoothly.  I love to systematically manage the details to accomplish the bigger picture – I do it for myself all of the time, and after realizing this was part of service, I now invest in tasks, projects and programs that will also help others. So if I ever volunteer to help you organize, I’m serious when I say I’d love to help.


You are being watched, live a life that would make you proud. Every day, you are in a situation where others are watching you and learning from you.  You may never know the impact you’ve had on someone’s life.  But you do have a chance at every moment to make a difference.  Don’t sacrifice your integrity for the easy decision, do what is right even if it takes a few extra steps, and appreciate others for who they are and remind them regularly that they are awesome. You can make the world a better place with your positive attitude and your honorable actions.


There is gift-based service and necessary service; both are important. Sure, it’s nice to have your service and your talents blend seamlessly together.  But there are many times that you need to suck it up and participate in a necessary task to help the bigger picture.  No, I don’t really want to be a greeter or paint an entire building, or pick up trash on the side of the road.  But I’ve made a commitment to the groups I’ve invested in and it’s part of the necessity of service. So I pick the easiest route, I do my task with a cheerful attitude (painting is a good workout, after all), no matter what it is (and, let’s be honest, sometimes remaining quiet when I don’t have a great attitude).


Everyone gives in a different way. When I was in college, I had no money, but I had time and talent to share with others. Sometimes lately, it seems like I don’t have time for everything I want to do, but I can share my treasure with others. We have many opportunities to give to others and all of it matters. Figure out where you are right now and use your available time, talent or treasure to help others.

When we give cheerfully and accept gracefully, everyone is blessed – Maya Angelou

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