Many of us have probably heard the saying, “It’s better to give than to receive.” The phrase comes from a book in the New Testament called Acts of the Apostles, which narrates the beginnings of the Christian church. It comes from Acts 20-35 when Paul the Apostle quotes Jesus, saying, “It is more blessed to give than to receive.”
I’ve shared this with you simply because I find it interesting to trace the origin of sayings we may often hear yet not know where they have derived from. My mother used to say this to me when I was much younger, and I suspect she used it as a colloquialism rather than as an astute student of biblical passages. In either event, I can’t say that it resonated with me at the time. Like many younger kids, I got more joy out of getting stuff than giving things away.
Over the years, I must admit that my feelings have subtlety changed. I can’t pinpoint an exact time or place, although I can remember a specific act when that above saying popped into my mind.
I was flying for Delta at the time, and I was on a Seattle layover. It was a cold misty evening, and I was headed back to the hotel after having a fantastic seafood dinner. I passed a homeless woman who had two kids. They were wrapped in a filthy blanket with what appeared to be their belongings in a shopping cart to the side. They weren’t begging- in fact, they were not aware of my presence until I spoke to the mom. I gave her an amount of cash, wished her the best, and walked on to the hotel.
I’ve never mentioned this story before. It wasn’t a tax deduction, as most of my charitable giving is. I don’t know what effect it may have had on her. I know that the old saying my mother voiced popped into my head, and I felt good having made that simple gift.
Momma also said you get back much more than you ever give, and I have had that experience in business numerous times over my career, including on several occasions recently. I have a book out titled, The Flight To Excellence, Soaring to New Heights In Business and Life and am blessed that it has made three bestseller lists.
While book sales are great, I also decided to give copies away to various organizations and people for different reasons. A sampling would include an inner-city school program, fellow members on boards I serve on, a leadership program I’ve been through, and other sundry people and organizations. My reasoning was simple. It’s better to have the book in someone’s hand that might benefit from reading it rather than to have it sit in the publisher’s warehouse.
To my pleasant surprise, that simple act of giving has had huge rewards. I’ve garnered a consulting contract, a couple of high fee speaking engagements, and a Fortune 500 company has made the book required reading for all its employees. I gave with no expectation of receiving and have been repaid thousand times over.
As you enjoy the holiday later this week, take a few moments to focus on the word, Thanks-Giving. Be sincerely Thankful for all you have and pledge to be more Giving. I can guarantee that you will be rewarded in some unique way.