If you’ve visited church on more than one occasion, it’s likely that you’ve become acquainted with the parable of talents found in Matthew 25: 14–27.
Delving into the meaning behind the parable, many have concluded that Christ was trying to reveal His desire for believers to be faithful stewards of their time, money and talents. I’ve found in countless sermons addressing this passage of scripture that the focus has veered toward financial giving, and less on personal responsibility.
As we approach a new year, I’m asking you to think outside your checkbook. Instead of focusing solely on places to send our money, let’s take a look at ways we can give of our time, money and talents — in every season.
Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. — Romans 12:1 NASB
Believe it or not, to those around you in need, time seems to be the most precious gift we have to offer. Here are a few examples of how you can give of your time year-round in 2013.
Find ways to serve in your community.
- So you’re an introvert struggling to break outside your realm of comfort? Good news! Chances are the senior next door would love to spend time with you. And, more often than not, the elderly have many stories to tell — and rather good ones. Why not have a seat, share a cup of joe, and offer a listening ear?
- Most Americans are unaware that there are over 43.7 million refugees and internally exiled people around the world. Have you given thought to serving refugees likely displaced in your own community? Unsure of where to start? Chances are your church is aware of the locale of this people group and would love to help you get involved!
- Take a moment and consider the neighborhood around you. Whether they are found in shelters, broken homes, or hanging out in vacant lots, there are likely hundreds of children around you — many left yearning for someone to look up to, someone to simply be present. Will you consider committing to a youth in your community this coming year?
Yes, I know I suggested we not focus on monetary giving, but it is not something to be overlooked. Instead, I would challenge that we shift the way we offer up our funds.
I have one challenge for you to consider financially in 2013:
- Instead of dropping money into a plate, or writing a check without considering how much it totals, I ask that you be intentional about your gift giving . Find an old milk carton, wash it out, and fill it over the next 12 months. When you have loose change or extra twenties, place the money in the container. (Just be sure to dispose of the pocket lint.)
Over the course of the year, look for families that typically go without during the Christmas season, and do the shopping for them. Play Santa to a family of children who have yet to open Christmas gifts, or bless a single parent who never buys for themselves, and so on. Keep your eyes open for need, and you’ll find it.
If you’re like hundreds of other Americans, you likely struggle to balance home and work life, making it hard to give of your time to others. Therefore, financial donations seem like the easiest gift, right?
But, wait. Have you considered spreading the talents that make you successful in your career to others? Regardless your profession — you, too, have something to offer.
- Have vocals that belong among the angels? Why not share them with others while you’re here on Earth? Find a local children’s shelter, retirement home, or homeless shelter, and use your pipes to lift the spirits of those around you.
- Do you have a camera at your disposal? If so, why not offer to take portraits of those within your community who lack memorable moments? Go create a special memory! Take the camera out of the bag, dust it off, and put it to good use. There are families all throughout your community who could use a reason to smile.
- Have you convinced yourself that your skills at bookkeeping are just for your day job? Think again! I know hundreds of non-profits struggling to get their feet beneath them, as they have yet to start a business from the ground up.
Wondering how you can help? Be available. Simply let others know (via social media, church bulletins, etc.) of your willingness to help, and I assure you, the right organization will find you.
Overall, my challenge for you over the next year is this: Find ways to give of yourself. Understand that anything and everything you have to offer is meaningful to those in need.
Know that YOU are the most valuable gift you have to give … and others can receive.
What are some of your favorite ways to give of yourself throughout the year? Share your ideas below!