Givers and Withholders
- February 20, 2018
- Esther Followwill-Johnson
We’ve all seen commercials that start with something like this…
Do you suffer from chronic pain? Do you lack energy or motivation, or struggle with depression? If life’s got you down, maybe its time for a change. Try GIVING – It’s the new FDA approved… blah blah blah.
Ok so you’ve heard of giving before. But while it is no miracle drug hot off the press, there IS something powerful about practicing it. Giving financially brings JOY. It offers a sense of purpose and lets us experience God’s love for others in an active way. It keeps us free from loving money, or clinging to “things.” Giving cheerfully is worship.
But I’m not just talking about giving money, or time or resources. Have you ever thought about the other aspects of giving beyond calculable, quantifiable or tangible things?
What if “giving” for you, became also about what you SAY? We don’t really think of giving in terms of communication. What would that look like?
Sure it could include quoting scripture, prophesying, worshiping, etc… but I mean something a little less obvious: simply speaking kindness to people, out of a genuine love for them. (Spoiler alert, it takes the Holy Spirit to do that!)
Why is it so hard for people to be active life-speakers? Maybe we don’t want to feel awkward… or we just want people to think we are cool. (And apparently “cool”means aloof and disinterested in others.) We’ve created all kinds of other excuses for not encouraging people… and most of those have to do with personality. We are SHY. Maybe you just aren’t as “gushy” as so-and-so, so you leave the encouraging words to others to speak. Maybe you are just private, or introverted. Introverts like to keep their cards close, and experiences/feelings internalized. There is nothing wrong with that, unless it becomes an excuse not to love people.
You know a great way to give? SHARE. Stop hiding behind shyness and insecurity. Newsflash: you are awesome, you have a powerful voice and an opportunity to bless others. So get over yourself for a minute and start giving. Share of yourself, your experiences, your fears, and what you are learning in life. Being vulnerable with people is a way to GIVE, because it shows that you acknowledge that they are worthy of trust, and worth connecting with. It’s a small way to include them.
This is most apparent in a group setting. If you see someone trying to connect with you, or offering something to the conversation, don’t just stay silent or retreat away. GIVE. Meet them there. Send back a smile, and encouragement, eye contact, nodding, etc. in whatever way you can meet that with kindness, do it. Give genuine compliments, pointing out people’s skills and strengths, encouraging them for literally no other reason in the world other than the fact that God loves them and that you can SPEAK. Your words have incredible power.
Now, I don’t mean exhaust yourself by needing to be the life of every party or giving out of striving effort. I just mean, instead of casually engaging… whether in an email conversation or a physical gathering, be THERE TO GIVE. Kindness wherever you can. Speak life wherever you can.
You want to know what selfishness looks like in community?
People who are “withholders” in conversation are the ones who offer nothing. They hardly engage. They don’t put effort in or respond really at all. Where they could interact by listening well, they look bored, distracted or just don’t apparently care.
Let’s get specific: Maybe there is a newcomer at a gathering who put themselves out there by making a joke. Let’s say it totally bombed or fell flat. A withholder would let silence hang in the air. Maybe they would look at another friend and smirk. A withholder might say something awkward or sarcastic, making the newcomer feel further ostracized from the group. Instead of brushing it off and seeking to build up, encourage or connect, the withholder withdraws, disengages maybe even mocks or says something negative. Don’t be a withholder, be a giver.
People are dying. Literally and figuratively all the the time. The world is hopeless, without life. But if you have breath in your body, you have something to give.
Maybe you’re short on money…
or you don’t have extra resources…
or you are tapped out on time because you’re overcommitted and can’t add another thing to your schedule…
If you have a voice you have something to give. Those words are not just for you. They are for others, so start engaging with loving people on another level. Use your words to give life. I promise you, if you speak to build up others out of a genuine place, your contentment and joy will increase immeasurably.