I’ve recently started digging into a wonderful little book called The Power of Half – the jist is that one Atlanta family, tired of the injustices in their city, decides to sell their home and donate half of the proceeds to a carefully selected nonprofit. The book is written in the voice of the family’s teenage daughter and is beautifully idealistic and stunningly realistic at the same time. My takeaway from the book is this: We shouldn’t all necessarily sell our house and give away half…but, we all have too much of something, so, everyone can cut out half of something. But here’s the even more important point – when we carefully scrutinize our lives for halving opportunities we are seeking ways to give sacrificially – and that is what I’d like to talk about today.
I know my title may have caught you off guard at first…after all, why should giving hurt? Shouldn’t it be enjoyable and fulfilling? Well – yes and no. You see, I think that we place too heavy an emphasis on giving out of our excess rather than emphasizing sacrificial giving. Sacrificial giving has several key features that distinguish it from ‘abundance giving’:
- Sacrificial giving can transform relationships – In the case of the book – the family’s massive home was leading to a sense of separation & its opulent features gave the family a warped sense of what was important in life. So, by downsizing so significantly the families’ relationship improved dramatically. Partly because they were in closer quarters, but mainly because it had given them a deeper sense of what was important in life.
- Sacrificial giving leads to empathy – doing without, even if in a much smaller way than the individuals we serve, can be a tremendously powerful way to bring us closer to the people we help. As a volunteer, I’ve fasted, spent a night ‘on the street’, and lived on less than minimum wage for a time. These experiences helped me understand injustice at a much deeper level.
- Sacrificial giving leads to reflection – Do I really need all this clutter in my life? What is my deeper purpose? What is truly important? These are the questions people start asking themselves when they sacrifice. As a result of this reflection, our entire mentality is shifted to one focused on otherliness.
Given the powerful benefits above – why is it that we encourage abundance giving over sacrificial giving? Perhaps because it is easier to get people to give out of abundance than to give in a way that ‘hurts’?
I submit to you today that we do more good for our communities when we encourage sacrificial giving. Our supporters get closer to our mission, to the people we help, and, most importantly, to their own sense of purpose.