From The Power of Giving
“A rich life,” writes philosopher and theologian Cornel West, “consists fundamentally of serving others, trying to leave the world a little better than you found it.” Every one of us can have a rich life if we choose.
If you are wealthy but unable to share your wealth or give of your possessions and knowledge, you are not really rich. Conversely, if you are not wealthy but give of your self, your time, and your knowledge, you are indeed quite rich – and you will receive far more than you can ever imagine.
Mahatma Gandhi once said, “there is always enough for the needy but never enough for the greedy.” Have you ever noticed how the needy frequently find a way to be grateful for the very little they have, whereas the greedy never seem to have enough?
If you are worth billions of dollars and have no people or causes to give your money to, what do you do with your money? How many houses can you live in? How many cars can you drive? How many meals can you eat? And even if you indulge in all of theses things to excess, what do you do with the rest of your money?
There is a story of a wealthy businessman who never gave anything to anyone. A tenacious fund-raiser approached the man to ask for a gift to a charitable cause, but the man refused to contribute. After much persuasion, the fund-raiser eventually asked the wealthy man to pick up some good dirt from his garden and hand it to him as his gift. Wanting to get rid of the fund-raiser and knowing the dirt was free, the man picked it up and give it to the fund-raiser, who then left. A few days later, the wealthy man, who was now curious, asked the fund-raiser why he had asked for the dirt. The fundraiser explained, “I wanted you to taste the beauty of giving, even though it is only dirt you were giving. Once you taste the beauty of giving something small, you will eventually give something big.”
Of course, it would have helped if the miserly man from our story had understood that the more you give, the more you receive. This may sound like a paradox – but it’s true. The more you give of yourself, the more you find of yourself. When you make a positive difference in the lives of others, you make a positive difference in your own life. Giving is a “win-win” proposition.
Author Earl Nightingale tells a story of a man who went to his empty fireplace and said, “Give me heat and I’ll give you the wood.” But giving does not work that way. In fact, giving functions under the universal law of cause and effect. You need to work for the wood before you get the heat. In other words, our rewards will always match and follow our service or, in the words of the Bible, “You will always reap what you sow.”
“When all is said and done,” says author Og Mandino, “success without happiness is the worst kind of failure.”
How can you find that happiness? It all comes back to giving. If you want to have happiness, you need to give happiness. If you want wealth, you need to give wealth. If you want love, you need to give love. For it is only in giving that you receive. Giving enriches your life with meaning, fulfillment, and happiness. It allows you to unleash your potential and create breakthroughs. In fact, it is a privilege to give. So give of your time, your knowledge, your wisdom, your wealth, and your love – and experience the power and beauty of giving.