A note on giving back, and why it’s important to me.
This note might offend some of you (for which I invite you to stop reading right now) – or, I am hoping it may inspire some of you to do something that not enough people push us to do in our lives right now – give back.
After a string of events – some inspiring, some disheartening, I feel compelled to put into words my own personal beliefs on charitable giving and volunteer work. I am tired of seeing good people live their lives in a way that doesn’t add any comparable value to our world, and where they literally waste the enormous blessings and gifts they’ve been given in pursuit the instant-gratification lifestyle America is so wonderfully known for. I know I do the same thing too, but I’m trying to be more purposeful with what I’ve been given, and with what I have to give.
In a consumerist, materialistic, and hedonistic America we are taught to pursue our own self interests, to plunder the resources of our world because we live in this beautiful country and because well, we earned it …right? But in a world that has given each of us so much¸ do we ever really stop to think about how much we take, and how very little we give back? Do we stop to think about how very little we actually honor all that we’ve been given?
I don’t know about everyone else or anyone else for that matter, but I frequently find myself feeling overwhelmed by the sheer number of gifts my life has been blessed with. From parents who love and nurture me, to a brother and sister I couldn’t live without, to friends in so many corners of the world – to my education, to my health, to my involvement with Esperanza – I really truly don’t think I could ask for a better life. And then I realize too, how little control I’ve actually had over all of this. I can’t help but wonder why I have been given so much – when others have been given so little.
Charitable giving and volunteerism are often thought of as zero-return investments, but it doesn’t have to be that way. I encourage all of us to stop thinking that way. Sometimes, improving just one life is means enough to give of yourself to something. Ask yourself this: if you were born into an under-privileged family, or into poverty – how would you view that person who had been given so much, but gave so little (if anything) back? We each have time, and we have resources. Are we using our time and resources to leave this world a better place for future generations to come? I’m not asking you to sacrifice your happiness, or even to give until it hurts – but I am challenging you to be purposeful about how you utilize your resources. Do you add value to more than just your own pleasures and personal agenda? I hope so.
Martin Luther King Jr. once stated “Intelligence plus character-that is the goal of true education.” To all of my friends with at least a college education– do you compliment the outstanding education you received with character? Life is so much bigger than what you produce for your boss, your company, your portfolio. Is your character apparent in the application of your studies to your career? To your life?
Blake Mycoskie, founder of the uber trendy TOMS shoes wrote an entire book labeled Start Something that Matters, and as he wraps it up says this “Not only is taking that first step less difficult than you may imagine, but it may change your life in wonderful ways. Once you start helping others, you will notice this change – you will feel less sad, less stressed, and more purposeful. This isn’t wishful thinking on my part. I have seen this happen over and over.”
As for me, my heart belongs to the poor. I love the poor with every cell of my being. My faith in Christ, and gratitude for His grace, and steadfast love for me guides me. It doesn’t have to be faith-led though. Find what‘s important to you. Honor the gifts you have been given, respect the sacrifices others have made for you, and find grounding and humility in knowing that you likely had very little to do with where you are today – In knowing that you are of the elite few that were set up for great success from the very moment you were born.
I love each of my friends for who they are, and will continue to do so – however in loving them I believe it’s important to hold them each to high standards. It’s on my heart that my generation and my peers do more – but if nobody challenges us to do more, or says anything to acknowledge that we are actually doing very little to give back – then nothing will ever change.
We can each do more to make our lives matter, and I hope we start now. As for me, I’ve started giving 10% of my earnings away each month, and have volunteered to be a mentor to an at-risk adolescent in the Dallas area. It means less time for me, and less discretionary money – but I can do this, and because I can, I will.
If you made it this far, thanks for reading, and for being a blessing to my life.