What motivates people to give? Who gives? What is the price of giving? Why do people volunteer time to charitable activities? Have you ever thought about all of these questions?
Giving should be more than just donating. Writing a check to feed a hungry child is wonderful, but there is more to consider when we look to our charitable activity. Motivations matter. They matter not only so the recipients of our work know they are truly cared for, but also to give us deep satisfaction in what we are doing. Having a charitable mindset and living out that mindset gives us purpose, pleasure, and protection.
When we give sacrificially to people and causes we find important, we break out of our little self-sufficient worlds and connect ourselves to the bigger world around us. It teaches us that our lives aren’t about the next sale, promotion, new car, or travel experience. Whether it is time, treasure, or talent, giving to others broadens our perspective. If we want a kinder society, be more kind. If we want a more civil discourse in the public square, be more civil. Being charitable connects us to a purpose bigger than ourselves.
For any of you who have been a part of cause or charitable organization in the past, or who currently are, you understand there is joy and pleasure in seeing the world through a wider lens, and through your activity, seeing the world becoming a better place. Whether it is seeing a hungry child fed, a homeless family find shelter, addicts getting the counseling they need, orphans finding a home, or some other need close to your heart, it feeds the soul to know you were a part of something like that. Giving out of our excess, or even out of our own needs, often brings us a deeper satisfaction than any material pursuit with which we may occupy ourselves.
Let’s start by being honest with ourselves. Our material wealth tends to insulate us from the hurts and needs which surround us. Our wealth can become our own virtual wall. It is this temptation of a life of security that motivates us to seek financial stability. Admitting this, we need to steel ourselves against this temptation. The more material wealth we acquire, the more we feed the illusion of self-dependence. We are not. We are dependent on others.
When we live in this way and give from this deeper and more meaningful perspective, we can develop a higher purpose, find a more lasting pleasure, and protect ourselves from the tendency to be more focused on ourselves than on others. It is then that we truly begin to know our own heart.