It’s coming. There’s nothing you can do to stop it and you can’t ignore it. It’s “the holidays.” The time of good tidings and great cheer. Or should I say good buys and great stress? No matter how you view the next 30 days, one thing is certain, there will be plenty of opportunities to make a difference in other people’s lives by meeting some critical needs through giving. The key is to position yourself to be ready to make the most of these unexpected venues of sharing.
I recently came across a story in the Old Testament where Joseph noticed that two of his fellow prisoners were having a bad day. You can find this account in Genesis 40. What grabbed my attention was Joseph’s simple question in verse 7, “Why do you look so sad today?” Joseph noticed something was wrong and asked. He was tuned in to their lives such that he recognized they needed a little extra attention. He didn’t allow his own challenges to distract him from how he could leverage his life for their good.
As I ran that through my mind over and over, I wondered how many people I had walked past who was having a bad experience and never noticed. I would probably be correct if I suggested that I missed them because I was so absorbed by my own “problems.” I just blew right by and missed opportunities to make an impact. I think I’m safe in saying this is a lot of people. Many of us are “too busy” to notice the needs of others or we see the needs, but justify why we can’t help. This is a problem or as Seth Godin would say, “This is broken.”
“If you see some brother or sister in need and have the means to do something about it but turn a cold shoulder and do nothing, what happens to God’s love? It disappears. And you made it disappear.” (1 John 3:17, MSG)
How can we position our lives to recognize opportunities to help others, especially in the coming season of charity and celebration? I suggest you create a Giving Strategy BEFORE the holidays get into full swing. Here’s how:
1) Pray – Ask God to open your eyes. I love the story of Elisha’s servant walking out of the house early one morning only to discover they are surrounded by horses, chariots and soldiers. To calm the servant’s panic, Elisha asked God to open his eyes to see an even greater army of angels surrounding the horses, chariots and soldiers. We too need to ask God to open our eyes to the opportunities for us to give and help those around us in need. Ask and watch and He will answer.
2) Prepare – The opportunities for you to give to others will be plentiful. I suggest you think now about how you want to respond. I know people who have pre-made bags of items to give to people on the street corners. I have a friend who goes to the bank and withdraws a certain amount in $10’s and $20’s and will keep them separate from his other cash. He keep them close as to give them out to waitresses and others who need encouragement during a very busy season. They idea is to be proactive and not reactive. And be sure to involve your kids in this process. Let them help decide how you respond.
3) Promote – The overall goal of being a good steward of your resources is to honor the one who allows you to have them in the first place, God. I think that’s the key perspective in all of this. Whatever we have really doesn’t belong to us in the first place. We’re just privileged to be able to manage it. So why not manage it well and let people know where it came from? Once you get your mind around this principle, it becomes a little easier to Pray and Plan.
This is simple. Use what you have for the glory of the one who allows you to have and enjoy it. When you give to others, be sure to leverage the experience to let them know why you’re giving and the impact that God has made on your life. It’s the reason we celebrate. He gave to us so that we might give to others.
Do you already have a giving strategy? Would you like to encourage others by sharing it with us? I’d love to hear what you are doing. Please use the comment box below to share your ideas.