When we give of ourselves in order to help someone else, something great happens – to the giver as well as to the receiver. That’s amazing!
In Why Good Things Happen to Good People, Dr. Stephen Post refers to numerous scientific studies – meaning actually measurable changes – that show benefits to the giver’s level of satisfaction, happiness, and even physical well-being, whenever he or she gives to help another person.
Think about your own experiences of giving: times when you have prayed for someone; have given time to visit or to take a person to an appointment; have provided food or paid for shelter, or have dropped off a secret gift for someone else’s benefit. Not only has it helped that other person, but it has improved your outlook and life, as well.
Don’t get me wrong: it’s not that we give to others in order to benefit ourselves. We give for the other person’s sake. But I am surprised that the very act of giving also changes us (for the better) in the process. Studies confirm what we already knew in our hearts: generosity makes a difference for both the giver and the receiver.
This leads to an intriguing question: How can we intentionally strengthen a culture of generosity among us – in our personal lives, in our families, as a congregation, in our work life and community? What would it look like in our churches if we asked one another this question regularly and looked for measurable differences?
I look forward to learning from your insights as we seek to encourage and uplift one another in generous living, and to sharing the difference it can make for us all.
Your partner in ministry,
Written 3/2012 for the California-Nevada Conference UM Foundation