September 28 – The happiness of giving

September 28. “I have never met an unhappy giver.” (George Adams)

In my adult life I have spent many years, and countless hours, involved with people who give. For 20 years I worked as a volunteer in the Church, and for nearly 30 I was a Scout leader for Boys and Girls. And, I have spent hours with friends who have given of themselves in the service of others. Some of my fondest memories have been spent in these groups, and I can attest that the time I spent giving of myself was some of the happiest of my life.

For me, at least, I am not talking about the kind of giving that is done with the click of a mouse, or the whoosh of a pen. It is easy to give money to charity, and to be sure it is important. Many great works are done on the budgets provided by generous, charitable contributions. But never have I felt the swell of happiness and pride in my chest from writing a check, that swell of happiness comes to me only when it is me that I am giving.

When I am spending time in service of others, I feel a completeness. In those moments I know that I am fulfilling a special purpose on this earth. I wasn’t put here just to survive, or to take care of only myself and those closest to me. I was put here to take my skills and talents and use them for the betterment of all around me.

It seems cliché to pick on people who are driven hard by monetary success or advancement at work. I see them all the time. Their calendars are full with countless, important meetings. Their office lamps stay lit well into the dinner hour. Their email accounts are active after their children are in bed well into the darkness of night. They are singularly driven to succeed. Many of them advance and get more responsibility at work, and with that increase in responsibility comes more obligation, more reason to drive hard.

Some of these people are also givers. They spend a considerable portion of their time making sure that those around them have their needs met. They make sure their teams are doing meaningful work, and their career aspirations are being met as well. Some are very genuine in how they spend their time working on the professional and personal development of their teams.

Sadly, there are others who pay only lip service to this part of their job. They schedule “team building” lunches, which are nothing more than an excuse for a staff meeting at a different location. They host skip level meetings with those below them in the organization which are nothing more than a meet and greet, where the topics of discussion are forgotten as quickly as they pass through the door to the next thing on their agenda.

This morning my reflection is on giving. Today I am thinking about the hours I have spent, and will spend, in the service of others. There are some opportunities for giving coming up in my life, and I am excited to be a part of them. It is true for me that I am never unhappy when I find myself in a state of giving.

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