Love is “Something” if you Give it Away!


Love is something if you give it away

Give it away, give it away

Love is something if you give it away, you end up having more…

 

That is an excerpt from a song I learned when I was about 8 years old attending Sunday School in the musty basement of the Nairn Mennonite Church.  My dad, at 79 years old, is the pastor there today and I bet the Sunday School kids are still singing that song.

That little ditty goes on to compare love to something magical, like a penny that increases in value and volume the more you give it away.

You’ll have so many – they’ll roll over the floor!

It came back to me recently during a discussion of gratitude with one of my mentors.  I also wrote about it in my first book “Meekonomics”.

Love, like gratitude isn’t really a thing until you give it to someone.

I didn’t get it when I was 8, in the basement of the church but as the song says – Love is only something if you give it away.

Now, there’s lots of different kinds of love but the three we are most familiar with are

Eros – The physical attraction that sometimes leads to a life long commitment between two people to do life together.

Philia – Brotherly love, the expression of mutual respect and deep friendship that grows out of community.

And

Agape – The all encompassing love of “the other” which is the underpinning of a society based on law and social justice.

But none of these types of love are anything unless you freely give them to someone.

For the purposes of business and ministry Agape and Philia are the two that really drive us forward.   A sense of community, brotherhood (or sisterhood) and openness are required to really move people.

Last year one of my mentors retired.  At his retirement party he quoted Scottish Journalist, Alexander Chalmers who said:

“The grand essentials of life are:  Something to do, someone to love, and something to hope for”

He went on to say that he hoped that throughout his career he had been able to convey and sense of love in all that he did for his team and the hope that he had for our future.

Love is a funny thing.  And talking about it here and in this way might seem a bit odd.  But I firmly believe that cultivating a sense of Agape and Philia in all that we do is the only way to truly move people forward.

So freely give Love – it’s only a thing when you give it away.

Thanks in Advance


I’ll be honest.  I hate that phrase.

Most of the time when someone says to me, “Thanks in Advance” it feels as though they are making assumptions about my completion of a task or compliance with a request without waiting for me to agree in the first place.

More than once I’ve been tempted to respond with:

“Bite Me! – Thanks in Advance.”

I am happy to say that my cooler head usually prevails, and I am much more charitable with my responses.  I recognize that offering gratitude when making a request is a good idea, please just don’t use the phrase “Thanks in Advance”.

When you go to restaurant, or work with any kind of customer service agent do you give a tip?  Of course you do!  But did you know that originally the tip was given at the start of the interaction, not the end?

The origins of the word “tip” is an acronym that stands for “To Insure Performance” and it was often broken into two parts.  “Here’s $5, there’s another $10 in it for you when we’re finished if you do a good job.”

That kind of proactive gratitude can change the interaction between parties profoundly.  But it is far more than just dropping a few dollars and saying thanks in advance.  Gratitude is not something that can be done cheaply or sporadically, it needs to become part of our constant attitude.

Cultivating an attitude of gratitude (I hate that phase too, not because it’s wrong it just sounds cheesy), starts with saying thank you but when it becomes a part of who we are it leads to level of graciousness, that people will remember forever.  And people want to do things for other people when they feel like they are appreciated.

So make gratitude a part of your daily life.  Be thankful for everything.

Rather than saying “thanks in advance”.  Drop little thank you bombs into the conversation every chance you get.  Start a meeting with “hey, thanks for meeting with me.”  When you make a request for something say; “thanks for considering this, or thanks for taking the time to review my proposal.”  As the relationship moves forward don’t forget to say thank you at every completed stage.

Don’t be afraid to say thank you in public either.  Giving a seminar?  Thank the organizer for inviting you right from the stage.   Sign a big contract?  Thank your client on twitter or facebook, just be careful not to reveal anything that might be considered confidential.

I thanked a client on twitter once and they retweeted it to all of their followers.   It was a great way to increase my own exposure and generate even more leads.  So I thanked them for that too!

People love to be thanked and being gracious always pays dividends.

Thanks to Darren Hardy (@darrenhardy) for giving me the idea of this post.

Thank you for reading it.

Who do you want to thank today?  Tell me in the comments below or forward this post directly to them, I will be super grateful if you do, and I’ll make sure you know it…

 

Called by Love


I take notes in Church. Early in this week’s message the speaker said that we are called by love to love, so I wrote that down.

mynotebookphoto

Here’s a picture of what my notebook looked like after this week’s message.  You can’t see it but at the top of the page I wrote in my notebook: “Called by Love too Love.”

A few moments later I noticed my mistake and corrected it to read, “Called by Love to Love.”   The more I thought about it though I began to reflect on the fact that maybe my error was more of a Freudian-Slip and that both concepts could be true.

Think about it.

God is Love, this much is clear as stated in 1 John 4:8. So any calling we receive from God is a calling from or by Love as the speaker on Sunday clearly stated. And we are called to Love as a manifestation of our faith in him. The complete text of 1 John 4:7-8 reads:

Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. The one who does not love does not know God, for God is love.

So it makes sense to say that we are called by Love (God) to manifest that Love (God) to everyone around us. But what about my misspelling of the word to, are we not also called too Love?

By adding an extra letter-o on the end of to I changed the meaning of the sentence to mean we are called by Love also Love. If God is love, what is also Love?

I’ve always struggled with the concept of trinity. I just can’t wrap my head around how God can fully embody all three “persons” of the trinity at once and if Jesus was truly God the Father and a man at the same time why did he bother praying? Maybe it’s just me but I have never been able to resolve this conflict in my mind and I don’t know that, this side of heaven, I ever will. But at the end of the day, it’s beside the point.

When I wrote that we are called by Love too Love I was honestly just being sloppy with my writing but my error carries a profound truth. Whatever you believe about the trinity, it’s all love. God is Love, Jesus is Love, the Holy Spirit is Love.

The speaker on Sunday went on to talk about Colossians 2:6-7.

So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.

Once called by love we become rooted in it, strengthened by it and overflowing with it. The only appropriate response at that point is thankfulness. Overflowing thankfulness to be exact.

It’s that image of overflow that sticks with me now. It’s one thing to be thankful and move on. It is something completely different to overflow with thankfulness. When you are overflowing you can’t contain it, it spills out all around, and the people close to you get covered in your thankfulness too. It’s a beautiful thing. We should all live lives with an overflowing abundance of thankfulness.

Why?

Because we are called to it by Love, and more Love also.

To overflow with thankfulness means to live generously, justly, humbly and walk with God.  Or should I say walk in Love?  The implications of a life lived like that are endless and the world could be forever changed, we should try it sometime.

For more information on The Meekonomics Project and our mission of reconciliation of the human relationship with God and Money, and to learn to live debt free, build wealth and leave a legacy write to: themeekonomicsproject@gmail.com

Grace, Gratitude and Generosity


The 3 Gs of Meekonomics

payitforward

Two events in the last week have reminded me of the importance of what I call the 3 Gs of Meekonomics. I won’t go into a lot of detail about the specific events. I’ll just say that in the first a colleague showed me extreme generosity in his work and attitude toward me, for which I am very grateful. In the second I was told that my own attitude of generosity through difficult circumstances has been an inspiration to others.

So I thought I’d take a few minutes this morning to talk about where, for me at least, all of this comes from and how it manifests itself.

1-     Grace

 

The older I get the more I realize that I deserve nothing. No amount of work, confession or penance can ever elevate me to a level of earning or entitlement that can change the fact I am broken and sinful. Financial Coach and Author Dave Ramsey almost always responds to the question; “How are you?” with the same answer, “I’m better than I deserve.” Ramsey says that this response is a conscious acknowledgement that he is a broken sinner who deserves nothing but death and an eternity separated from God. But it is by His grace that we get to go on living assured of salvation. I don’t completely agree with Ramsey’s theology on the matter but it’s still powerful stuff and I respect his conviction.

The apostle Paul wrote that “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,” [Romans 3:23], but he goes on to say that “all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Jesus Christ.” [Romans 3:24].

Justified – FREELY!

From a more secular point of view Webster defines grace as “a special favor, disposition to or an act of kindness, courtesy or clemency”. However you look at it grace is unearned, undeserved and free.

2-     Gratitude

 

When a Meekonomist recognizes how powerful grace is and how much of it exists in the world the natural result is a feeling of gratitude.

I touch on this in my book “Meekonomics; How To Inherit the Earth and Live Life to the Fullest in God’s Economy” in Chapter 2 when I talk about Greed and Lust. Gratitude I explain is the antidote for greed. Greed says; “I deserve this and am entitled to more!” Gratitude says; “Thank You, but it’s just so much!”

Melody Beattie, one of the pioneers of the self-help movement said it best in her book titled simply “Gratitude”;

Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend. Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow.

Gratitude looks back at grace and says “how can I repay you?” but soon realizes that any attempt at repayment for grace is inadequate and inappropriate. So what’s a truly grateful person to do?.

3-     Generosity

 

Quite simply, you can’t pay back grace so the only thing you can do is pay it forward. People who recognize the incredible amount of grace they have received and have a desire to show gratitude do it through generosity.

Jesus once noticed a poor woman paying her temple tax. It was a very meager amount by comparison to some of the sums other people were giving but when Jesus saw this He called everyone over and said;

“Truly I tell you, this poor widow has put more into the treasury than all the others. They all gave out of their wealth; but she, out of her poverty, put in everything—all she had to live on.” [Mark 12:43-44]

Generosity is not about the amount, it’s about the heart of gratitude and the proportion of resources. Even though the woman in this example was poor herself she understood grace and was grateful for what little she had so she gave it away for those who had even less.

When a truly grateful person says; “Thank you, but it’s just so much” they turn outward and extend grace to everyone within their reach. That is the definition of paying it forward.

The 2000 movie of the same name, staring Haley Joel Osment and Kevin Spacey popularized the notion of paying it forward and got it exactly right.  It’s not always about money but it is always self-sacrificial in some way.

In the final chapter of “Meekonomics” I talk about treasures. What are the treasures of heaven Jesus talks about in Matthew 6? It’s at this point in Jesus teaching that I believe the entire narrative of the Bible comes full circle. We start with God in direct relationship with Adam and Eve and through greed and lust we separate ourselves and live an alienated life. Jesus explains that all God has ever wanted are for each of us to maintain intimate relationships with Him and with one another. We can’t do that if we are caught up in our own drive for success and keep score with money. By recognizing our fallen nature, experiencing grace and responding with gratitude manifest as generosity, we can begin to get back to the garden and once again live in community with God and each other.

So there you have it; Grace, Gratitude and Generosity – How are you doing with the 3 Gs of Meekonomics?

Two Little Words That Can Change the World


Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend. Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow. – Melody Beattie; Gratitude

gratitude

This past week I had the opportunity to attend Q Commons, a lecture series on the ever evolving shape of our culture. (http://qideas.org) More specifically most of the speakers were focused on the importance of Christianity in shaping our modern culture.

The evening was structured similar to a Tedx event whereby over the course of about 2 hours we heard from 6 individual speakers and were encouraged to interact with the rest of the people in attendance to build on what we were hearing. Of the 6 speakers by far the most impactful for me was the live video feed of Ann Voscamp, author of the bestselling book “One Thousand Gifts; A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are.” Her nine minute talk was on the topic, what does it mean to be known by gratitude?

As Voscamp put it; “The virtue of gratitude is what lies at the heart of community ethics.” If we want to shape our culture with a sense of grace, peace and mercy, what Christians refer to as the fruits of the spirit, we need to start by saying Thank You. Thank You first to God but also to one another and to our own selves for the things we do to keep ourselves sane.

Saying thank you forces us to look up and acknowledge the people around us. By looking at people we cannot help but see them and seeing people for who they are is the first step in acknowledging their humanity. All humanity is made in the image of God. When you see people for who they truly are you are looking at God.

As Claude-Michel Schonberg put it when writing the lyrics to the musical Les Miserables, “To Love another person is to see the face of God.”

I’ve written on gratitude before. In my book “Meekonomics; How to Inherit the Earth and Live Life to the Fullest in God’s Economy,” I wrote that gratitude is the antidote for the sin of jealousy. When you can say thank you for what you have, you don’t have as much energy to worry about the things other people have. The commandment, “Thou Shall Not Covet” is really the negative form of “Be Thankful.”

This is Thanksgiving weekend in Canada. I think that the fact that we Canadians celebrate Thanksgiving 6 weeks earlier than our American neighbours makes us nicer people. I know that’s not the case but it is obvious to me that the more thankful you are, the more you show gratitude in your daily life, the happier you will be.  Thanksgiving should be more than just one day.  It should be a lifestyle.

So what are you thankful for?

Is the New Pope a Meekonomist? Maybe…


A week ago everyone was wondering who the New Pope will be.  For the past week the internet has been awash with stores about.  Today, at his inaugural mass we heard directly for the first time from the man himself.  

Pope Francis I is a humble man who I beleive will infuse the Roman Catholic Church with a heathy dose of Humility, Grace and Gratitude.  Something that has been seriously lacking, note just in the Vatican but in all halls of power the world over for decades.  The world needs a leader like Pope Francis now more than ever.

If his early actions are any indication of things to come, Pope Francis could be the world’s very first Meekonomist leader.  Maybe, maybe not.  Check out the article from the Wall Street Journal and judge for yourself.

Pope Celebrates Inaugural Mass – The Wall Street Journal

Greed


Greed is a perversion of need.  If everyone understood their needs and was content with taking only what they needed at any given time I believe that the world would be a much better place and many of the issues we now face from extreme poverty to global warming could be, if not eliminated, seriously curtailed.  However we live in a society that has made an excessive desire for more of something than is needed the norm and that, if you look it up, is the very definition of greed. 

Greed versus need is a battle between our ruler and caretaker mentalities on an epic and global scale.  As caretakers we know that we should only take what we need and steward that which we have been given in such a way that it will be sustainable for future generations.  But as rulers we believe our press and start thinking that we need more while others suffer.     

It’s been called the tragedy of the commons.  Ecologist Garrett Hardin first coined the phrase in an article he wrote for the journal Science in 1968.  In it Hardin described a situation in which multiple individuals, acting independently will ultimately deplete a shared resource even after it is made clear that it is no longer in anyone’s self-interest to do so.   Hardin uses the example of medieval land tenure in Europe in which cattle farmers used the same parcel of land to graze their herds.  The wealthier farmers continued to add cattle to the pasture even as the quality to grass available fell.  The farmer who added the cattle would initially receive the benefits of having additional animals but the damage to the field was felt by all the farmers who used it.  Eventually the smaller operators were forced out of business as the price and quality of meat being produced fell.  However to the farmers who add the cattle to the field it is a completely rational decision to do so as more cattle in the field means more profit and eventually less competition.  The same logic can be seen in the way in which we manage nearly all the resources of planet earth, from forestry to fisheries, mining and fossil fuels.

 By know I’m sure you’re starting to notice were greed and need are leading us in terms of how we lost our way in God’s Perfect Economy.  Greed fuels war and supports our ruler mentality in an ever increasing and expanding Lust for Power.