Too comfortable in our giving?

By Frances Miles | 21 April 2017 | Comments (5)

Too comfortable in our giving? - A blog by Stewardship

Homeward bound on a Wednesday evening I headed out of my local train station aiming for the tram stop straight ahead.  In between me and the exit were a couple of ‘chuggers’- or ‘charity muggers’ - so called, because of the enthusiastic  way they try to engage in conversation and sign you up to a very worthy cause. Different to the costume-wearing volunteers who stand optimistically shaking a tin on street corners, these guys are seriously bold, salesy and persistent.

Back to me and the exit out of the station that I was planning: just swerve to the right, slide past the old lady in front who will get caught, leaving me a straight path through the middle and onto my tram for home. 

Perfect. 

Except something went awry, and I was caught by one of the young enthusiasts. ‘Excuse me; I would love to talk with you about how you can help relieve poverty for children in South Sudan.’ “It’s OK”, I snapped, as I continued my fast pace; the tram now pulling into the stop just ahead, “I have a charity account with Stewardship. I actually work for the organisation, so I know all about the importance of regular charitable giving and I myself support quite a few charities using the payroll giving facility”. 

Phew. Just keep on moving; your response will impress him enough to leave you alone to get on with your evening.

‘Stewardship? I’ve not heard of that one before. Please tell me more about it as I often get people ask me if they can they use their charity accounts, and I would love to give them a more informed answer’. Woo, this guy is good.

I watched as the tram doors opened and people piled in. If only I had swerved left…

“Yes”, I replied with a smile; “we reclaim £10 million per year in gift aid, we only charge a small percentage towards our admin costs, and we support thousands of different charities”. Emboldened, I declared to my attentive listener that I was a Christian, and was able to regularly support my church as well as other causes both in the UK and overseas. He seemed relatively impressed, but not as much as I had hoped.

The tram doors shut. 

Off it went. 

Argh, its 7:15pm; I’m hungry and tired, and this guy is just too enthusiastic. Please just let me go.

…‘But we need people like you, kind people, to regularly support this charity, so that aid can get to those in need much quicker than some other charities are able to do so.’ I agreed with him, but declared that I had already committed most of my giving, but I will think about it, as I am indeed moved and disturbed by the plight of so many children in need.

I thanked the young man for the chat, but I really did have to go, promising to seriously consider supporting the charity, and finally, made my exit.

Another tram appeared within a minute; so that wasn’t so bad, after all, was it?

But as I made my way home I felt uncomfortable and ashamed.  I had boasted  about my giving; even revealing  how much I donate each month – I have never done that before – what on earth was I doing?!  Had I been trying to prove that I was probably the most generous person that guy had spoken to that day, and so instead he should be stopping those who had managed to slip past and get home much quicker than me?

Later that evening, with my feet up in my comfortable lounge, coffee and biscuit  to hand, watching news of the unfolding famine in Eastern Africa, my sense of shame resurfaced: shame for my superior attitude, thinking that I had generosity all sown up, but at the same time focusing only on my needs and comfort. 

You fool. 

Father, forgive me.

Forgive me when I think I’ve done enough, when all I am actually doing is merely scratching the surface of generosity. There is so much more I can do, so much more I can give!

Oh, and thank you for that earnest young man who pricked my conscience, and shook the cloak of self-righteousness off my shoulders.

Therefore as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people’ Galatians 6:10


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comments:

Cara Rodger

April 29, 2017 5:21 PM
Thank you so much for this. I tend to say that we review our giving every May and November, and I'll add the charity (if this is true) to the list of those we'll consider. It's difficult, isn't it, because something like the famine in East Africa may well have to be on top of regular giving and can't be postponed. But there are so many worthy causes out there and we can't support them all. How do we know when to stop? I think we have to pray and then be sensitive to God's nudges, but that's easier for me to say than do. Reviewing our giving regularly does help - I don't think God wants us to feel perpetually guilty, but He does want us to think and to remember that all we have comes from Him.

Elizabeth

April 26, 2017 3:34 PM
I do exactly the same when 'chuggers' come to the door. No real guilt after a conversation about Stewardship and all the charities we already support and no, we will not be supporting that one. However, like your blogger, I am aware that to be a generous, organized giver still keeps us safely within our comfort zone and that I need to be prepared to walk (be hurled?) out of that if, for example, my husband (a spontaneous giver) suggests we send a donation to or help someone who is not on my well planned giving schedule, which will make a serious (in my estimation) hole in our savings. Thank you for the challenge!

gary daley

April 26, 2017 3:35 PM
Father forgive me too.. I could have written that blog. Help me reach out so much more, never forgetting everything I have is only what you have given me anyway.
The Lord 20 years ago found me penniless, homeless, jobless and basically friendless. How can I not now give Him my all when He has blessed me with so much since then? How can I be so full of self righteousness and not even be aware of it.. Thank you again for the blog and to You Holy Spirit for convicting me and waking me up!!

Christopher Cobbold

April 27, 2017 5:11 PM
Frances, been there, done pretty much the same; thank you for sharing the story. I guess that the only way I'll ever get to know I am being really generous, is when I really experience going without something I regard as basic essential in my life. I am a long way off being there. It puts me in mind of the Methodist Covenant Prayer
I am no longer my own but yours.
Put me to what you will,
rank me with whom you will;
put me to doing, put me to suffering;
let me be employed for you or laid aside for you,
exalted for you or brought low for you.
Let me be full, let me be empty,
let me have all things, let me have nothing.
I freely and wholeheartedly yield all things
to your pleasure and disposal.

Will I ever be able to say this to my Lord and mean it 100%?

Juliana Smith

April 27, 2017 6:48 PM
Gosh France's, you are absolutely right. I feel the same way, that there is always something more we can do. And yet we feel like we are doing our bit and the buck stops there. How wrong we are.

Thank you for opening my eyes.

God Bless
Juliana

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