Imagine you’re at the pet store and you come across a colossally huge bird cage. As you draw closer, you see a small canary inside, huddled way in the back. To your surprise, the cage door is wide open. Yet the bird stays pressed against the wires as if it has nowhere to go.
Sadly, this is how many of us are with our giving! The door is wide open. We can do anything! We can go anywhere. But instead, we stay trapped in a cage of our own making. And with the whole world to roam, we hide in the back of our cage, slowly dying as we do the same old same old. So no wonder we feel dull and dead when it comes to giving!
But if you could talk to the bird, you might say “Look, there’s a whole world in front of you! You don’t need to stay miserably pressed against a cage!” Flex your wings and fly. Or at least walk around the cage. There’s plenty of room in there!
My Story On Giving
Back when I was a young believer, I gave dutifully to the church every week. And I got bored of it real quick. Of course, I felt guilty about being bored as if there was something wrong with me. But I had no clue what to do about it.
So for years I continued to dole out money in the same old way. I kept thinking the only way to give was to the church, and for Christianese activities, and with money and money alone. It was a thought that went unvoiced and unchallenged for way too long.
To me, giving was a habit devoid of joy. It was something I did routinely, pretty much in the same way you might wash your car, vacuum your room or brush your teeth.
Deep down I wondered why I couldn’t give with love, joy and excitement. After all, God delights in a cheerful giver. And the joy of the Lord is our strength. The Bible also says it is better to give than to receive.
I knew without a doubt God didn’t want me to be passive about it. Giving wasn’t supposed to be a chore. I was supposed to enjoy it!
So I prayed for help. I asked Jesus for joy and creativity in my giving. I asked for ways to give differently. And the Lord was so amazing in His answer. Since then, I delight in giving. And I can’t wait until the end of the week, where I can give again. And sometimes, I don’t wait at all!
I still give to my church. But not all four weeks. Instead, I devote three of these weeks to giving creatively. And I seek the Lord on how to spread joy and draw people to Him through gifts of my money, my time, my talents and my things.
Becoming An Active Listener (Look Behind What’s Being Said)
If you want to give creatively, start looking for the needs around you. Listen to the conversations of your friends, your neighbors, and your colleagues. And ask Jesus to help you spot the need behind the conversation. And also ask how you can meet it.
These needs become obvious once you start listening for them. A mom who’s often late to work may need free car repairs. A colleague complaining about medical bills, may need a few hundred in cash slipped in her desk along with a note. Pregnant women usually have back aches-Perhaps they could use a vibrating pillow chair or a gift certificate for a massage. People who just bought a car, may need a restraining net or a gift certificate for a car wash.
At one point my lady landlord was having trouble getting up on time for work. So I found a studded foot roller at the dollar store which she can rub against her feet to help her wake up faster. I knew this worked for me, so I went to town and spent the whole dollar!
There was also a time at work where I saw a woman in an arm sling. When I learned she had repetitive stress injuries from clicking the mouse, I was able to show her how she could click using just her keyboard. I then got her a trackball so she could roll the cursor around and keep her hands from curling into an unwanted position.
Yes it’s that simple. And it doesn’t have to be expensive. But it should be unique. Your giving should show you care, and in a way that matches your personality. It should also point them to the creative God who just loves to give.
Everyone expects a gift on their birthday or on secretary’s day. So be sure to do most of your giving when it’s NOT expected. Your goal is to create a lasting impression. You want to show the person that you care in a unique way. Don’t let your giving be hijacked by Hallmark or some commercial holiday. Give so they will remember it. And remember you.
For non Christians they should get a powerful glimpse of the loving living God who’s inside you.
$ Gifts With A Note
People remember the WOW factor. And that’s why I love giving wads of cash. I could write a check, but a check can’t compete with the elated feeling you get from raw greenbacks.
My favorite past time is making a stocking full of useless goodies for a family with kids and lots of money problems. And then giving it to my church to give to them anonymously.
Often the stocking is a furry red Christmas ornament brimming with a bunch of rubber balls and silly toys. So the parents would extract the toys in front of all their kids, and bravely try not to be bitter about the fact that these gifts are totally useless to them. Toys won’t pay the rent they owe.
But at the bottom of the stocking is a small bulging sack which they won’t see until they’ve removed all the toys. And inside that little bulging sack is a little note of how much Jesus loves them.
And clipped with the little note in the little bulging sack is an iddy bitty bunch of Benjamin Franklins so they can pay their rent after all.
Yes. Jesus cares about the details. And that includes both toys for the kids and money for the adults. And like their kids, He wants the adults to have the same child like faith that the Lord is taking care of them. The Lord is meeting their needs.
Sometimes the gift takes the form of a box of stuffed animals with cute throw pillows and bouncy balls. But at the bottom is always an encouraging note and the cash. At other times it’s a bunch of loose change covering a nest of $20 bills.
How Can I Give Money Gifts When I Don’t Make Much?
First, ask the Lord for creative ways to free up money for giving. It may mean putting your pennies in a bottle and all your other spare change in an opaque shoe box with a slit to dump the change in.
The goal here is to keep adding to the shoe box without looking at how much is in there. After several months, you may find you have hundreds of dollars ready to give away.
Or it may be you save money from giving up a week’s worth of diet soda. Or from packing a lunch rather than buying it at work. You could also have a yard sale or find ways to buy cheaper food and save the difference. See also Creative Ways to Make More Money.
Get Other People Involved in the Conspiracy (Non Cash Gifts)
Some gifts are to be given one on one or even anonymously. For example: I gave vibrating pillows to two pregnant attorneys and knew that it would make them uncomfortable unless it was done anonymously. At other times, the person needs to know I care, so I give directly.
But however you give, the fact is that the Lord delights in a cheerful giver. And He blesses those who give freely. So why not get as many people blessed as possible? I have found that most people like to give. Especially if you can tailor it to their strengths and what they delight in.
Get the kids involved in rolling up loose change.
Get the secretary to wrap gifts, or to get the boss out of the room or to deliver the gift to their desk.
Have colleagues and friends help with baking cookies.
Coordinate with others who don’t even know they like to give. For example: take the the lady boss that won’t stop gossiping about the new associate’s lousy taste in clothes: Buy a $200 gift certificate at her favorite clothing store. And then have her and the associate shop together for clothes to wear in the office!
Suddenly the gossiper is part of the solution. And by getting the gossiper to participate, now there’s a bond between her and the new associate she had previously badmouthed! With creative giving, everybody wins.
The Bottom Line About Giving
Make it fun. Get others involved. And pray for wisdom, creativity and guidance. The possibilities are endless.
I have found that giving creatively has made me more loving, more faithful, more excited and more humble. And with more of a child like wonder than ever before.
So allow me to share this joy with you. The examples above are just a drop in the bucket. And the Lord may have you give in ways you’ve never dreamed of! Just ask seek and knock and He will answer. He will do this for you if you ask Him! Because our God just loves to give!