Givers or Takers?

by Jan Silvious

Kevin Leman, an internationally known psychologist and author, makes some interesting comparisons between givers and takers (Why Women Get Stressed Out and What They Can Do About It–Revell, 1987):

<![if !supportLists]>       <![endif]>Givers understand reality and human need.

<![if !supportLists]>       <![endif]>Givers realize they may have to wait to get what they want, or even do without.

<![if !supportLists]>       <![endif]>Givers look out for their families.

<![if !supportLists]>       <![endif]>Takers prefer fantasy and meeting their own needs.

<![if !supportLists]>       <![endif]>Takers live by the law of instant gratification.

<![if !supportLists]>       <![endif]>Takers look out for themselves.

Bringing up children to be givers instead of takers is a challenge all parents face. Unfortunately, there are a couple of factors in our society that work against us. One is our affluence. Separated from the raw realities of life by our suburban fortresses, in which we possess the best of both city and country, our children are rarely exposed to personal deprivation among their friends.

The second is that we ourselves may feel uncomfortable with direct contact with the poor. It is easier to launder the whole process by giving money and letting someone else administer it.

Yet we must find ways to bring down the barriers that separate us from the issue. One way is to involve our children at an early age in the hands-on-process of giving.

I can remember going with my mother to take a basket of food to a poor family in the Washington, D.C. area when I was about six or seven. I still can see the long, narrow, dingy stairs we climbed on the way to the second-floor two-room apartment. The gaunt mother met us at the door. She thanked us for the food, then asked if we wanted to see her new baby. Showing us past several beds that were lined up, side by side, we came to the last one. There, bundled in blankets, was the smallest baby I had ever seen. I remember wondering why here were no sheets.

After talking with the woman for awhile, we sere suddenly swarmed by several dirty-faced children, seemingly appearing out of nowhere. They all looked as malnourished as their mother. We finally said goodbye and, as we made our way back down the stairs, I remember the feeling of profound relief when we walked back out on the street and got in the warm car where my daddy was waiting. The memory of that moment is sealed in my heart.

I can't say that this experience made me a giver, but it certainly opened my eyes to the fact that not everyone lived in the comfort I enjoyed. If ur children can see the need, however, I believe their natural compassion will surface, though it may take their salvation to give them the proper motive.

Proverbs 22:9 is a rich promise: "A generous man will himself be blessed, for he shares his food with the poor." Because our society is so segmented, we may have to make a conscious effort to model giving before our children. As we do so, we can encourage them with this word of hope and blessing.

From The 5-Minute Devotional,
Zondervan, 1991
© Jan Silvious

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