How to Choose Where to Give
So you want to live a more generous life, but where to start? There are so many excellent places to give away finances, talents and time. How do we choose? A beloved pastor taught me that, "option overwhelm is not an excuse for indecision". He often reminded our congregation that while there is no substitute for wisdom and patience, we can also miss awesome opportunities for fear of choosing the wrong thing. What if there are MANY "right" choices? What if God isn't a dictator, but rather, a co-author who desires our partnership with Him in the story of our lives?
His encouragement to us when making big life-decisions was always this:
There are thousands of good people to marry - wisely choose one and be faithful.
There are hundreds of beautiful places to live - pick one, make a life there and enjoy the things that make it unique.
There are dozens of great careers - evaluate your talents, try a few, choose one and do it well for as long as you can.
I think that wisdom translates here. Brainstorm what you can give. Do you have finances, talents, time, or a product to donate? Pick a dozen places that are in need of that thing. Research them. Settle on several that have reputations of being excellent stewards. Contact them and ask how you can contribute. Commit to those places. Be faithful for at least 6 months. Then, reevaluate. If it's not a great fit, you can always go back to your original brainstorm list and try again.
Here are some places we've fallen in love with:
Despite what we see in the news, there is endless goodness out there for us to explore. We can't attend every phenomenal church. We can't send our kids to all the great schools that exist on this spinning globe. While we might make a good pilot, teacher or dentist, we're going to have to pick one and stick it out to master the craft. Of all the beautiful places in the world with all the interesting things to explore and people to know, we're going to have to settle on a handful of locations to really get to know. The same is true for places to invest our dollars and days. There are thousands of great organizations out there.
Google "places to serve in __________" and type in the name of your city or state and I guarantee you'll have more options than you can handle. We can't wisely and deeply connect with all the places our search provides, but that shouldn't be a reason to give up. Research a few that spark your curiosity. Then, pick one and be faithful to it for at least a few months.
This is how we got started. A decade later, we're still editing and changing our list of places to love and people to serve. The important thing is that we're continuing to turn away from selfishness and shepherd our hearts towards loving others.