Are You a Giver or a Taker?

People who lead meaningful lives get joy from giving to others. 

Posted in , Jul 9, 2015

Are you a giver or a receiver? There is joy in both.

When we come to end of life’s journey, what will people say about us? How will they remember our life?  Will they recall our actions as benevolent, kind and generous or will the opposite follow us to the grave? These are sobering thoughts.

In a study published in the Journal of Positive Psychology, psychologists asked nearly 400 Americans whether they thought their lives were meaningful and/or happy. The research found that happy people get joy from receiving. People leading meaningful lives get joy from giving to others.

The authors of the study wrote, “Happiness without meaning characterizes a relatively shallow, self-absorbed, or even selfish life, in which things go well, needs and desire are easily satisfied, and difficult or taxing entanglements are avoided. Giving is much harder but produces a more meaningful life.”


I can’t help but think of the story in the Gospel of Mark about the young man, who although having good intentions–following the Ten Commandments with a desire to inherit eternal–is unable to do the one thing Jesus asked of him, “Go, sell, everything you have and give to the poor and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”

He went away sad because he was a man of great wealth. This is not required of everyone, but there is a lesson for all. Giving calls for sacrifice, selflessness and the willingness to share.

Taking seems easier for some. I know it does for me. Please don’t get me wrong, I enjoy giving gifts, supporting my church and other charities that help people, yet receiving from others puts a smile on my face without effort.

I think we all have to battle selfishness to be more generous with what has been given to us.

In a recent fundraising training, the speaker asked the audience, “Are you a giver or a taker?” It’s a question I often reflect upon, especially when I hear about someone’s outstanding generosity.

The instructor shared these insights about giving to help us realize the value of being charitable:  

  • It’s impossible to take it with you, so give it away.
  • It’s impossible to give without it coming back to you.
  • It’s impossible to give without feeling the joy of giving.
  • It’s impossible to give without causing a ripple effect.

These are great truths to consider as we ponder whether we are givers or takers. If you know the blessing of being a giver or were on the receiving end of someone’s generosity, share your story with us. How did it impact your life?

Lord, fill us with a generous spirit so that we can give of ourselves, our resources, time and talents to make our world a better place for all of God’s children.

View Comments