As I mentioned in Tuesday’s post, one of the challenges to joyful giving is random giving. Most joyful giving is done when the time, talent, and treasure you are offering to others is aligned with a cause or an issue that you are passionate about. The difficulty is that there are so many things going on in the world that break our hearts these days that we tend to scratch checks whenever we’re encountered with emotion.
My recommendation is to focus your giving more tightly. It enables you to make a bigger impact and see the results of God’s gifts to you being transferred to help others. The Christian philosopher Soren Kierkegaard said, “The key to life is to find the cause you’re willing to die for.” Once you really discover your heart, the time, talent, and treasure will flow more naturally and joyfully.
Below are four points of reference on what we call the “Passion Spectrum.” Most people recognize hundreds of Needs, are sensitive to many Concerns, and are impressed by a few Burdens. However, if you are like most people, you are only moved deeply by one, or maybe two, passions.
Below is a simple faith-based inventory that is intended to help you take a significant first step toward narrowing the field. Don’t feel that you have to “get it right.» Just make your selections based on what you know about yourself and have experienced so far. It’s a starting point from which you test your way toward more clarity.
One way to help you do this exercise is to pay attention to your internal “Mad Sad, and Glad Meter.” Which issues, when you think about them, cause you to be mad, sad, or glad? Those are clues to your passions. Scan the list and choose 7-10 that jump out at you. Then, try to narrow it down to 1 or 2 causes:
Cultural ethics issues
Business as Ministry
Infant health care
Media/The Arts (Music and Film)
Young married couples
People of other faiths
My encouragement is to have your spouse (if you are married) do this exercise too. (By the way, it’s ok if you have different passions.) With your list(s) narrowed down, you can now research the organizations that are really making a dent in the problem you want to tackle. The best place I know for doing this is http://www.ecfa.org/
With your target ministry(ies) identified, I would recommend you get the organization’s annual report for further research and schedule a meeting with their Executive Director or Head of Fund Development.
I strongly encourage you to donate time before you donate money to the organization. Plan a site visit or a mission trip. Interview other givers or interview the board or speak with people who have received the services of the ministry. Once you have a good feel for the organization, step away for a week and pray earnestly about how much time, talent, and treasure to give and when you will do that.
This simple, focused plan can make your giving truly joyful.