2005-09-16 - Give or Take
Some people are more givers; others are more takers. Someone who is more inclined to taking doesn't think much about helping others. They spend so much energy on their problems etc. that they really don't have a lot to give. They ask a lot of their friends and family, church, workplace, even society. There's a "what's in it for me" attitude.
Takers go to church with the attitude "what does it offer me," and are into "church-shopping." Takers have a work attitude of "doing as little as possible to get by," with emphasis on breaks, vacations etc. Their primary concern is salary, promotions ,vacations. They want to start out a high salaries, without "paying their dues" as most people have to do. There's a sense of entitlement.
In contrast, givers think about others' needs, and how they can help to meet them. While they may occasionaly ask for a listening ear, they are also eager to give one, naturally reaching out to help when it's needed. Givers go into their churches thinking "How can I serve? Whom can I help?" They don't drain their friends.
All that sounds noble, and so it is. But there's a flip side. Sometimes we can be so comfortable in the giving mode, that we don't want to allow ourselves to take. We are at the front of the line to help someone else, but we don't want to seek help ourselves.
In a truly balanced, godly life, there is to be both giving and taking. Even Jesus sometimes sought support from His disciples (i.e. asking them if they couldn't stay awake and pray with Him). Besides, if we just give all the time, we rob others the opportunity to minister to us.
I confess that while I try to be balanced, sometimes I don't like to be on the end of asking assistance. I do sometimes comfortably turn to a close friend if I have an emotional issue. But when it comes to asking for help from other friends or acquaintances, I have to be dragged, kicking and screaming. In other words, I sometimes have to reach a point of no choice.
I reached such a point this week, after a late church meeting. I had stopped to tie my Saddle Oxfords as I exited my car. The problem with that? I lay my keys down on the seat for a second. But in a distracted state, I left them in the car, as I locked it from the door latch instead of the key chip (lesson learned). I didn't have a choice. I had to accept someone's offer to take me to our old house, to await my husband, who had to drive up from work with a spare key, while these friends waited with me in the dark. True Christian family are they, for they had a long drive home ahead, were already taking another friend home, and yet they sat there with me. But it wasn't easy for me to ask them for help, and in fact had spurned an earlier offer, until I realized I had no choice! I'm used to helping others, both by profession (Victim Advocate) and in volunteer work. But I'm not so comfortable asking for it.
Sometimes there is pride involved. Sometimes we just don't want to admit we need help. In some cases, this results upbringing in which we were taught it's weak to seek help. Sadly, people taught this will allow false pride to prevent them from taking advantage of the help God provides, whether it's counseling, practical assistance or something else.
Sometimes (as in my case), it's a matter of taking responsibility seriously and wanting to fulfill it (like keeping up with keys!) - but taking it too far, to the point we sometimes aren't comfortable with being human and messing up! Can we say "out of balance?"
As Ecclesiastes reminds us, there's a time and a season for everything. Sometimes it's the right time to handle our own problems alone, but at other points in life, it's time to let others use their love and gifts to minister to us. In God's word, is a verse that says we should bear our own burdens. This burden refers, in the original language, to a knapsack-size burden, something light enough to carry alone. There's a contrasting verse that instructs us to bear each other's burdens. Contradictory? Not at all. Rather, this one alludes to burdens that we cannot bear alone. The key is b-a-l-a-n-c-e.
God didn't intend us to live the Christian life as the "Lone Ranger."