Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Letters to My Daughters - Be a Giver

Dear Daughters,

I want to talk to you today about giving.

Not your money . . . yourself.

I had an interesting conversation with a college girl the other day, and she told me that since she has begun volunteering with a campus organization this year she has a new appreciation for those who serve. She's learning that serving is hard work! See, she’s having trouble getting people to help her with the events she’s planning. And when she plans an event, people inevitably complain.

My friend just can’t figure out why people her age (your age!) don’t want to get involved.

(Let me tell you, girls, people can be a royal pain.)

And so can serving. But I want to encourage you to keep doing it, keep serving, because it shapes the person you are becoming and the person you are going to be.

As my friend talked, she said, “I’ve realized that these people who won’t do anything—my generation—are also the people who someday will have to be involved in our communities . . . and in our churches! Who is going to do all the work if nobody wants to get involved?

Right on, Sister!

I told her that in this world there are givers and there are takers. (Again, I’m not talking about money—I’m talking about our time.) Sadly, it seems like today there are more takers in this society than givers.

So who will get involved? Who will be the givers of tomorrow?

I’ll tell you who—you will. Because you have, I hope, a sense of responsibility to the world around you. And because you understand that there are many people out there who, for some reason or another, just can’t do it, but you can. And you also know that sitting at home watching T.V. is no way to live a rich and fulfilling life.

I can't waste time or energy worrying about all those other people out there who aren’t getting involved in their communities and in their churches. (Those, by the way, are usually the people who complain the loudest when things don’t go quite according to their expectations. Be forewarned.) What I need to focus on is me. What am I doing to make my community and my church a better place?

I was raised with parents who were always involved in some aspect of community and church life. One time I asked my mom why they were always doing so much, and I’ll never forget my mom’s answer. She told me, “If there is a need, and I can fill it, I’ll do it.”

If there is a need . . . and I can fill it . . . I’ll do it.

How much better would our world be if more people had this philosophy of living and giving?

Sure, there are times when we are stretched so thin that we absolutely cannot fill a need. I get that. God understands. We all need healthy boundaries.

But when you see a need, I would hope that, rather than automatically dismissing it as someone else’s problem, you would at least take a moment to consider how and if you can help fill that need.

So far, girls, you are doing great. You’ve all been actively seeking ways to serve others. Keep it up and make it a lifelong habit.

Be a giver.


Linking this post to Richella's Grace at Home party and Amanda's Weekend Bloggy Link Up.


  1. It is such a joy to use your gifts as you serve others. You have modelled this so beautifully for your girls, Shelly.


  2. This one would be great for sons too!

    My family and I are fortunate to have found ourselves living in a community that is AMAZINGLY involved and giving in so many important ways. I am extremely thankful for the unique opportunity of having my kids surrounded by examples of adults and children of all ages who love serving others. I know how rare that is, and I definitely want, as a mother, to reinforce the lesson they're learning over and over again. Great letter, and great message. xo

  3. Glenda, I agree--it IS a joy to serve!

    Megan, you are fortunate indeed. I live in a community like that, too, and it is such a blessing. Thanks!

  4. Shelly ~ Perfect timing...I needed to read this FOR ME! I signed up to be the high school lacrosse president this year knowing it's a struggling program, with many unhappy families AND it's one of my two son's senior years. I've asked myself more than once "why did I take this on". Your mother's statement to you is EXACTLY why I've taken this on. Not only because I can (not without having to give up other things to fit it in), but because I know I can do it well. I'm starting to see positive changes with our new executive board...the families seem happier (so far) and so do the players. I am hoping my two boys (15 & 17) will look back on this as an example of 'why' THEY need to step in and volunteer when they see a need.
    Keep writing!! And thank you again for the great timing of this post.
    Sally Zwiers Herman

  5. Oh, just to be a giver--not a "volunteer," not the one who is required to serve, but just one who gives out of the joy of giving. One who knows that it is better to give than to receive.

    I love your mom's philosophy of life! How wonderful for you to have been reared by someone who wanted to fill a need if she could. And now you've passed that lesson down to your girls. That's at least three generations who have discovered the great adventure of living not for themselves! Never doubt your legacy!

  6. So want this for my girls! My 3rd daughter has such a sweet heart of compassion. And I've been praying that God will show me how to grow it and fan that flame!

    Thanks Shelly for sharing this post with us!