The Bible commands us to give, and it is truly amazing to give. One of the things that I love to do is to engage in service to the community. I truly believe that engaging in service is critical to living a full and complete life. Acts 20:35 tells us, “In everything I did, I showed you that by this kind of hard work we must help the weak, remembering the word the Lord Jesus himself said: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’” I love this passage because it demonstrates the importance of giving.
The benefits of service to your soul are amazing, but when you serve others you also open yourself up to receive blessings. If you close your fist to hold onto everything that you have, then you also aren’t opening it up to receive anything new. Giving and service don’t always mean money. Although money is important, you can give your time, treasures, and talents. This means that you can give your time, money, and the skills that you are blessed with.
I truly believe that engaging in service is critical to living a full and complete life.
I give in many different ways. For example, when I hear of new single, moms I put together boxes of clothes for them in many different sizes and then give it to them. I promised God that I wouldn’t trade in or sell the clothes that my twins can’t fit anymore because I wanted to be a blessing to someone else. I do this because I want to help sow a seed of kindness for them to let them know that they aren’t alone.
I will never forget the first box of clothes that I received for my twins. A friend of a friend (who I never met or spoke to) sent me 2 boxes of clothes because she heard that I was a pregnant, expecting twins and a single mom. I remember receiving that and then praising God because in that moment I knew that I was going to be okay. Previously, I had been stressed about how I was going to afford certain things and if I would be okay financially, but that act of kindness let me know that God knows what I need and will make a way. Therefore, packing boxes of clothes and giving it to moms helps me do the same for them.
The thing is: giving isn’t just for the rich. In 2 Corinthians 8:1-5, Paul tells us about the Macedonians who were very poor, but yet rich givers:
“We want you to know, brothers, about the grace of God that has been given among the churches of Macedonia, for in a severe test of affliction, their abundance of joy and their extreme poverty have overflowed in a wealth of generosity on their part. For they gave according to their means, as I can testify, and beyond their means, of their own accord, begging us earnestly for the favor of taking part in the relief of the saints— and this, not as we expected, but they gave themselves first to the Lord and then by the will of God to us.”
I want to highlight that despite their financial situation and persecution they were generous givers. They even had an “abundance of joy.” Don’t you want abundant joy? Don’t let money be a reason why you don’t give financially. Here are ways to donate even if you don’t have a lot of money.
Here is how you can get involved and add more giving to your life.
Give Your Treasures
You don’t have to write a big check in order to give. I always advocate giving 10% of your income in tithes. Your church most likely is doing community outreach and helping people in your community. Therefore your tithes are definitely a form of giving. However, you can also go further in your giving. For example, you can pay it forward in line. This has happened to me a few times where I got to the cash register and what I ordered had already been paid for. This feeling was so amazing and it uplifted my spirits. Since I didn’t have to pay, I would decide to do the same for the person behind me. You never know what someone else is going through and even if you can help someone just a little bit then you can make a difference.
Another thing that you can do is to donate some of your items that you no longer need. I mentioned how I box up clothing and give it to single moms. When I was moving, I learned about a single mom who was moving into a new home, had encountered times, and needed help furnishing her new home. I was initially planning on selling a lot of the stuff that I wasn’t taking, but I decided to have her come to my home to pick out the things that she wanted before I decided to sell some of the bigger items. Inside I cringed because I wanted to be able to earn some extra money, but I wanted to help her. Therefore, I challenge you to think about giving some of the items that you would ordinarily try to sell if you are cleaning out the things that you no longer use. Everything helps.
One of my favorite things around the holidays to do is to participate in the Adopt a Family or Adopt-A-Child programs or a similar one through the church. I love it so much. I shop for these children like they are my own, and it brings me so much joy to know that I’m helping to make someone else’s holiday better. Not long after I gave birth, I was debating whether to adopt a child that holiday season. I tried to avoid participating that year because I had just given birth, I was receiving hospital bills from the delivery, and money was extremely tight. However, despite what my finances looked like I knew that I was blessed and that I could loosen the grip on what I thought was money that was running out. That year, I didn’t buy my kids gifts (they were infants at the time) and bought very few gifts for my family because I wanted to buy gifts for a family in need. However, since then I felt like the woman in the Bible whose oil and flour never ran dry (1 Kings 17:15-16). Giving gifts to that family meant so much to me, even though I never met them or gave it to them personally, I knew that I was helping to bring them joy during the holidays.
Another thing that you can do is to shop via Amazon Smile. Amazon Smile is the exact same site as Amazon, except that Amazon will donate .5% of the purchase price for eligible purchases to a charity affiliated with Amazon Smile. There are numerous charities that are affiliated, and if you work with a charity that isn’t listed then you can register that charity to be eligible to receive donations.
I challenge you to think about giving some of the items that you would ordinarily try to sell if you are cleaning out the things that you no longer use. Everything helps.
Give Your Time
If you want to do more, or if you are just starting out, a good thing to do is donate your time. This is a great thing to incorporate into your Christmas celebrations with your children. During the holidays or even another time in the year, take your children with you to serve so they understand the importance of giving to others.
Give Your Talents
When you give of your talents you are also giving of your time. The difference is that you are lending a particular skill set to a cause. 1 Peter 4:10 tells us, “Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.” For example, if you are an amazing organizer then consider working with a non-profit organization or an initiative to help them to get organized. This will help them to better manage their paperwork, put them in a position to raise more money, and even do more in the community. Also, if you want to use your talents to help to raise money for an organization then check out this post from Eventbrite that lists 100 Unique Fundraising Ideas.
How To Get Involved
List out the issues and causes that are the most important to you. This is important because if you are going to get involved in service then you must know what will keep you motivated because you will be spending your time, talents, and treasures which is an investment. Also, you want to ensure that you are working in an area that is most aligned with your values. For example, I love organizations that:
- Spread the Gospel of Christ
- Improve childhood literacy and education
- Provide resources and help for pregnant moms
- Help animals (Although I don’t a pet, I love animals)
Once you understand where you want to get involved, then start identifying which organizations you can get involved in. There are many different ways that you can find a great organization. If you need help identifying what you may be interested in then, ask people around you what they are excited about and what charities they are involved in. Depending on how familiar you or others are with a particular charity, you may want to review CharityWatch, Charity Navigator, and BBB Wise Giving Alliance to make sure your money will be used the way you want it to.
Let people know that you are interested
One of my mentors, who I served with during a service project, told me about a school that has a high population of students who are on financial assistance. This school has a Christmas dinner before winter break so the children would get the experience of having a holiday dinner. The school did this because when the students went home for the holidays, many missed meals and went without. That family dinner was something nice for them. However, that year they didn’t have anyone to fund it. When I found out, I approached my manager at the time to see if we could get our entire floor involved to help the students. When the project was approved, I created a menu, raised money, and obtained food donations. Some people even cooked for the children! Then we served the students their meal. It was one of the most rewarding things that I have done. Although I took the lead with coordination, you don’t have to do it alone. You can ask others to help.
Ask your church
Many churches have relationships with non-profits, so a great starting point is to see which organizations your church is already working with. Then you can contact those organizations to see where you can help.
Look into your school’s alumni association
For a few years, I was the service coordinator for the Duke University alumni in Detroit. One of the things that I love about Duke is their commitment to service in the community. This is true of their students but they also encourage it for their alumni. I helped to organize a number of events that helped children in Detroit and that also allowed alumni to network.
When You Give
Many of the things that I do in the community I don’t broadcast. I do this because Matthew 6:1-4 (ESV) tells us:
“Beware of practicing your righteousness before other people in order to be seen by them, for then you will have no reward from your Father who is in heaven. Thus, when you give to the needy, sound no trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may be praised by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.”
Honestly, I’m feeling a bit uncomfortable even writing about the things that I do because I don’t like to boast or broadcast. However, I wanted to share my experience and some of the things that I do in the hopes that it will inspire you to action. I want you to understand that whether big or small, what you do matters. It is essential to bringing more love to the world and further spreading the Gospel of Christ.
Organizations That I Love
Although I encourage you to assess the things that you are passionate about, I wanted to provide you with a few examples of some of my favorites if you are looking to get involved.
Initiatives for Girl’s
Mission Statement: “We change the destinies of students’ lives by getting them to read proficiently. We guide and support vulnerable children to develop fundamental educational skills. Above all else, we move children in K-12th grades beyond the basics and prepare them for productive and meaningful lives.”
About: More than 20 years ago, Young Life answered God’s call to run headfirst into the chaos of teenage motherhood with the hope of Jesus … and YoungLives was born. YoungLives has never wavered from the original vision to reach teen moms by entering their world, modeling the unconditional love of Christ, and encouraging them to become the women and mothers God created them to be. Through Young Life’s time-tested methods and life-on-life mentoring, teen moms are empowered to make positive choices, set and achieve goals, and live a future rooted in Christ.
Mission Statement: “Samaritan’s Purse is a nondenominational evangelical Christian organization providing spiritual and physical aid to hurting people around the world. Since 1970, Samaritan’s Purse has helped meet needs of people who are victims of war, poverty, natural disasters, disease, and famine with the purpose of sharing God’s love through His Son, Jesus Christ. The organization serves the church worldwide to promote the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ.”
Mission Statement: “The Humane Society of the United States is the nation’s most effective animal protection organization. We and our affiliates provide hands-on care and services to more than 100,000 animals each year, and we professionalize the field through education and training for local organizations. We are the leading animal advocacy organization, seeking a humane world for people and animals alike. We are driving transformational change in the U.S. and around the world by combating large-scale cruelties such as puppy mills, animal fighting, factory farming, seal slaughter, horse cruelty, captive hunts and the wildlife trade.”
I hope that this information will inspire you to get involved and make a difference. I want to share this quote from John D. Rockefeller who donated over $500M during his lifetime. John D. Rockefeller could have done anything with that wealth, but he chose to give. At the age of 86, John D. Rockefeller said:
“I was early taught to work as well as play,
My life has been one long, happy holiday;
Full of work and full of play—
I dropped the worry on the way—
And God was good to me everyday.”
Giving can truly help lead to a fulfilling life that is rich in joy, which is a gift from God.
“Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share. In this way they will lay up treasure for themselves as a firm foundation for the coming age, so that they may take hold of the life that is truly life.” -1 Timothy 6:17-19
This post is a part of a campaign to inspire people to take action for Make A Difference Day on October 28th! I encourage you to get involved in the day to make a difference.
If you want more tips and resources, then check out this FREE grocery reduction challenge to help you to cut your grocery and takeout bill so you can have more money for the things you love! Click here to join the challenge!
Aisha Taylor is a single mom of twins, personal financial coach, work from home entrepreneur, and #1 Amazon Best Selling Author of the book “5+5 FNPhenomenal Ways to Save $100 This Week Without Killing Your Lifestyle.” Aisha has been featured in ESSENCE, Jet Magazine, and Black Enterprise. She is also the Founder of FNPhenomenal (Frugal –n- Phenomenal), a movement designed to help single moms create a vision for their lives, craft a financial strategy to support that vision, and show them that phenomenal living is possible. It’s time for you to be Financially Phenomenal!
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