“It is more blessed to give than to receive.” – Acts 20:35
For most of my life I thought this quote was intended to guilt us into being a “giver” and that there was something bad or self-centered about being a “getter”. But that’s not the point of it at all. It is not intended to be some sort of do it-or-else command; rather it is offered as sage advice, the kind that we might expect from a wise elder. Since we all come into this world as infants who are capable only of getting, giving is a behavior we must learn. But once we learn it – I mean truly learn to be a selfless giver – something amazing happens in that our lives become enormously enriched. It is one of the great paradoxes of life.
In recent years I have been on several trips into Central America to help the poor who live there. My first time to do this was probably motivated by that guilty feeling I just described and because I knew I had more than enough and needed to give some away. Admittedly my trip began with a bit of an Ugly American attitude, that I had much to give and the impoverished people would be grateful for my generosity. What occurred, though, was the reverse. I quickly discovered that what I had to give them paled in comparison to what they had to give me. I learned much more about generosity, friendship, sharing, and love from them than they could ever have gained from me.
The same experience holds true in my coaching business. I am often times hired to coach leadership teams and small work groups, and what I have discovered in doing so is that I learn much more from them than they ever gain from my expertise as a coach.
“My own experience about all the blessings in my life,” claims renowned author, speaker and consultant Ken Blanchard, “is that the more I give away, the more that comes back. That is the way life works. . . .” Simply put, “It is more blessed to give than to receive,” because when we give we almost always – and usually to our great surprise – receive much more than whatever it is we give away.