It’s that time of year again.
I have to be honest. I get a little annoyed around the New Year. Don’t get me wrong, I love the holidays. It’s really one of my favorite parts of the entire year.
What annoys me is all the predictable television programming, magazine articles, and blog posts that come with the end of the year. You know what I’m talking about.
Year in review shows are all over the place on television, maybe throw in some top ten moments too. Magazines and articles pound you with New Year’s resolutions you should make to that will change your life for the better: lose weight, make more money, make the new year the best year of your life!
You’ve seen all those headlines.
Here’s the thing. There is nothing wrong with making resolutions to improve your health or quality of life. I think those are great. And it’s my hope that you would keep those promises because they can lead to a happier state of being.
However, there is one resolution that I want to include that I don’t see very often. And it doesn’t have a whole lot to do with making your new year better.
I challenge you to make a resolution to give recklessly.
What does that even mean, give recklessly?
Allow me to explain.
Several years ago, I heard one of the most offensive church sermons in my life. The pastor is a guy who is a few years older than me, and I guess maybe he was trying to be funny while making his point. But he said he saw a man on the street that week with a sign that read “Homeless, need help.”
The pastor’s comment was that he grew up in a home that had a sign reading, “If you don’t work, you don’t eat.”
At that point, anything else he said fell on deaf ears. I’d hoped that he would qualify his comment somewhere down the line, but he never did, instead standing by his harsh words.
I couldn’t believe what I had heard. I was sitting there in a Christian church, hearing a pastor say that we shouldn’t help people in need. My mind was blown, since I distinctly remember reading that the founder of that church, for whom it is named, told his followers to help those in need around 2000 years ago. Please do not think this is a bash against Christianity. It isn’t. It was one man’s words, not the words of a whole group of people or religion.
I hear many people talking, nowadays, using similar verbiage. They talk about entitlement and those who don’t contribute. They talk about how the economy is bad. And mostly they like to blame others for the conditions of the world. I often hear people say you shouldn’t give money to homeless people because they’re just going to use it for booze or drugs.
My question is, so what?
If you were cold, lonely, had lost everything, and were in the depths of despair, what would you do? Oh sure, it’s easy to read this from where you’re sitting and say that you would get back on your feet, find a job, work your way back into life. Maybe. Maybe you would. I’d like to think I would too.
But what if life had hit you so hard that you could never see the light ahead for the forest of darkness around you?
When great teachers of ancient times told us to help others, they didn’t say “Only help those who you think will use the assistance appropriately.” They didn’t tell us to try and figure out if a person was going to use money for drugs or alcohol. They simply told us to give, indiscriminately. Recklessly.
We should be good stewards of the money and time we have received. I wouldn’t recommend sending thousands of dollars to men claiming to be Nigerian princes, or overextending yourself. Use some common sense.
But there are people out there in the world who need your help. And I’m not just talking about homeless people. There are people close to you, closer than you would expect, who are aching, hungry, lonely, grieving, or going through the most difficult time of their lives.
The great thing is that giving doesn’t have to be about money. Most of us don’t have a ton of extra dough laying around. Know what you do have? Time, skills, talents, abilities, passions, love, a listening ear, advice, a hug. Am I missing any?
This year, I challenge you (and myself) to help those in need more than we have in the past. Helping others truly is the only way to make the world a better place, and it is one of the most effective ways to make your life better too. How? Just try it and see. When we focus on others instead of ourselves, it can have an amazing effect on our own little section of reality as well.
Give it a try. Be safe. And give recklessly.