I’m guessing that you and I aren’t all that different from each other. Sure, the details of our life may be different – I have three kids, a part-time job, and live in a place where it is cold for a good part of the year. You, on the other hand, may be single, work full-time and live on the beach. But because you are reading this blog, I am pretty confident that we have the main things in common – we both care deeply for the needs of the poor and are looking for ways to expand our reach in helping them.
During the holidays, it is relatively easy to look to the needs and wants of others, and to set our own preferences aside. We go beyond giving gifts to friends and family, and give to those who are less fortunate and to charities that help those in need. We might volunteer our time to serve a meal at a homeless shelter, sign up to ring the bell for the Salvation Army, bake cookies for those living in a senior citizen home or leave a basket of water bottles and snacks for a busy UPS delivery driver.
“Holiday Me” is generous, charitable and looking for ways to help others. Then January comes, and suddenly I find myself becoming self-focused. I’m making personal New Year’s resolutions, watching what I eat, being careful about what I spend, and any above and beyond charitable or volunteer efforts come to an abrupt halt. Does it have to be like that? Practically speaking, the excess generosity ends because I can’t afford to be as generous for 12 months of the year as I can be during December, but that doesn’t mean that I should do nothing.
There are things that I can do past December that will allow me to be generous with my time, resources and talents the whole year though, and they don’t have to take a lot of time or money. Here’s a couple ways to live generously all year long:
- Start a prayer journal to remember the needs of others. One idea is to pray for someone you blessed during your generous holiday giving. For example, did you pick a name of an under-privileged child from the “Angel Tree” in the mall over Christmas? Pray for him this year as you might be the only person who does.)
- Volunteer. Don’t know where you’d want to volunteer? You could consider your church’s needs and offer yourself as a volunteer, or look into your local food pantry, an after-school mentoring program with a local school, coach a recreational team, volunteer at a crisis pregnancy center, help an elderly neighbor on a regular basis with shopping, yard or house work, or just for social visits.
- Join a program like Bright Hope’s Radiant Experience where your small, monthly contribution will greatly help someone living in extreme poverty while at the same time broadening your knowledge on the plight of the poor and allowing you to become part of the solution.
- Give your time. Give away an hour every week to someone who could use your help.
- Pursue a cause based on your passions. For me, outside of the work that I do for Bright Hope, pursuing a cause that I’m passionate about means volunteering at a local Evangelical crisis pregnancy center. Because this cause is important to me, I have been a regular volunteer here for over 16 years!
These are just a few of hundreds of ways you can be generous all year long. If none of the above particularly inspire you, get with your book club, small group or Bible study, and brainstorm ways together that you can live 2018 with a purposeful, generous, others-focused mindset. I bet your group can come up with a long list of ways to do that. When you come up with something great, share it with us on Facebook by tagging Bright Hope in your post!
Think about the difference we can make together in 2018 if each of us choose to add a measure of generosity to each day. That sounds like a formula for a truly happy new year!