My mom always told me it’s better to give than to receive. Hmmmm…ok, I get it, but I really like it when people give to me. J
It was not long before I’d learn that my mother’s encouraging words were the words recorded in Acts 20:35 where Luke quoted Jesus saying, “In everything I did, I showed you that by this kind of hard work we must help the weak, remembering the words the Lord Jesus himself said: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’”
Over the years, I’ve had the amazing pleasure of experiencing great success in mostly every area of my life (I’m grateful, not boasting). I’ve been incredibly blessed professionally and personally; but, what good is success if I could not share my lessons with others? So, years ago I committed to a life of generosity and giving (almost to a fault). I say, “almost to a fault” because once people realized that I am a kind, giving person, the human instinct to take advantage would soon kick in. It’s unfortunate because once I’d identify the “leech-mode” I would quickly shut down the relationship. From this normal human behavior, I learned a great deal about myself and others. The most important thing I learned about myself is that giving was very much a part of me and there was no way that I could get around it. I learned to embrace this gift, but I also learned to set healthy relationship boundaries as I gave.
The one thing I learned about others is that not everyone is out to get me! Yes, I said it. There was a time in my life when I felt every person I encountered was someone who wanted to “use” me. Ok, so where did that negative thought process come from? Well, we really don’t have time to get into that right now, but it was a long journey for me to accept that there are wonderful, good people in the world and my job is to give them a fighting chance.
It was back in 2009 when I really learned to give without expecting reciprocity. As a mentor, coach, and counselor, I rarely see the fruits of my labor because it is usually a slow process of personal development with my clients and mentees. However, celebrating the short-term milestones is a great way to acknowledge success. Additionally, it often gives me a greater sense of purpose to know that I am a part of contributing to a cause greater than myself.
This week my team and I are focusing on generosity and why it is important. Here are 3 quick reasons you should give without receiving:
1) INNER POWER. When we give to others financially, relationally, spiritually, or professionally, we are in control. We feel better about ourselves and our commitment to a greater purpose. One of the basic human needs according to Maslow is self-actualization. This means that once we’ve fulfilled our basic needs of food, shelter, safety, connectivity, and self-concept, we are poised to give in a more philanthropic manner. Your ability to give will ultimately come back to you in the form of inner power, contentment, and self-actualization.
2) MERCY. You’ve heard the saying, “Blessed are the merciful for they shall receive mercy.” This is a true statement. Whatever you give will be given back to you. The more generous you are, the more you will find generosity when you need it most. One thing I’ve learned in my journey to success and that is: I have not gained success ALONE. There were always amazing mentors, professors, and friends that helped me along in my journey.
3) SUCCESS. We all want success. We all want to have successful families, careers, and relationships. One of the most intriguing concepts I’ve encountered about success is that it comes in many forms; and only YOU can define your success. Last week, my mentor asked me, “How are you going to fill the gap between where you are now and where you want to be?” I thought about it and said, “I’ve already accomplished everything on my list of personal and professional goals…I’ve been blessed above measure and I’m not sure if there is anything else I want.” Once I said that out loud, I realized that the only way for me to find ultimate fulfillment is to make it a point to become a constant giver. For me, success is the ability to give to others what I’ve been blessed to receive for myself.
How do you define generosity? How do you define success? I would love to hear what you think because oftentimes our stories have a common thread.
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