Tom is not lazy but selfish. Since the day I met him, Tom has had the mythical “silver spoon” in his mouth. Tom grew up in a very modest area of Michigan and was the youngest son of a struggling family. His father was a local shop owner who did his best to put bread on the table but usually was just getting by. His family grew up knowing what it was to wait, to dream, to set a goal, to plan, to work hard and to receive the prize at the end of the day. He and his siblings were workers!
At an early point in his life, Tom transitioned from an extremely physical job with a major corporation to a position of leadership in one of the family businesses. He was lost! Tom had to learn the ins and outs of business the hard way, through trial and error, may times under the watchful eye of opinionated family members. To make the situation worse, he received very little support or training from the family. This was a shipwreck waiting for the right rocky shoreline.
As the years went by the family businesses flourished. Having the right products at the right time was in the family’s favor. It was the proverbial “being in the right place at the right time!” As the years sped by the company flourished but rising cost and family dysfunction played a part in its demise. As I saw it, the business was a ship in the ocean with only a “part-time” Captain, and even at that the rudder was broken too!
Tom was generous to a fault. He gave away so much! He would give away much of his own stuff, and would spoil people with the things that he gave away from the company. Many times, we give with the wrong motives. Tom gave away in order to receive. He was starving for power, position and recognition within the family as well as with a sense of his own self-worth. So, the answer he chose was to create the feeling of worth by having others indebted to him. Because of the resources at his disposal no one could ever out give him. This was a situation that could not last forever. But the case was it “felt good” today, let tomorrow take care of itself!
The Bible tells us to give and to give freely, but with the right attitude of heart. We are to give without recognition as the motivation behind it. As the Bible teaches us …
But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing,
Why is that? It’s because when others see your acts of generosity and shower you with accolades and compliments your heart has a tendency to become overwhelmed with pride. Jesus tells us to simply do our acts of generosity quietly, without fanfare, so that it remains a private matter between the individual and God. That way God is completely honored and the sacrificial act remains pure. It is pure in the sense that the motivation behind it was not for selfish recognition but for the glory and purpose of God. It is the practice of it not being about me but God.
Life is tough, and life is a process of learning. Tom was learning that “It’s not about him” during those years he spent giving generously to others. Today he enjoys a personal quiet relationship with God whereby he can continue his acts of service and generosity without one hand knowing what the other is doing. Like most of us, Tom has learned though the experiences of life that there is a greater purpose outside of our own edification. We are here to glorify God, to do His will and to participate in His ongoing plan of salvation for the world. Tom has learned that the greatest joy humankind can ever experience in this world is a quiet, selfless, serving relationship with God. You see, it really is not about you!
NOTE TO SELF: Give, serve, love without recognition