Don’t be a Charity Slut this Year

Alright, I know.

Settle down. Settle down. I know. I said “slut”. And I said it in the post title, but there’s a reason if you’ll just hang on and wait.

Though I have only recently proclaimed my undisguised intention to convince you to become poorganic and give all your money away (see here), I have a special Christmas caveat.

Let’s just be honest, y’all know EXACTLY what I am talking about when I say “charity slut”.

If you have ever given money to any missionary, hungry child, medical research lab, non-profit, NGO, or bell-ringing Santa, you know that in just a few days, those buckets are going to be clanging DING-DONG. And WE POORGANICS are the easy target.

The phone will be ringin’. And the mailbox will be full of photos of third world children with cleft palettes.  The missionaries’ letter will casually mention the crappy exchange rate. Your church will want to pack shoeboxes. Oh, your kid’s Sunday school wants to send gifts to angel tree kids whose parents are in jail. And can you donate to the burned firefighters foundation? And did you know the whales are endangered? The Arbor Day Foundation will send you some address labels BTW.

See . . we heard you poorganics are pretty loose with your purse strings, so can’t you just give $10? It’s not much, right?

A little here. A little there. You give at first with good intentions, but then you feel guilty saying no to the cashier when she says, “Do you want to give $1 to the Armed Services?”

So you say “Sure.”  But really, you don’t want to. You don’t want to give to all of those things. You don’t want to be guilted or obligated or coerced into giving a little bit away to an organization with which you have no connection. But without really thinking about it, your realize you’ve become easy, loose, and guiltily led into meaningless giving that leaves you feeling empty and stupid.

*************

Okay, before you think I am a heartless jerk for mentioning any of the above worthy causes in such a glib and dismissive way, let me just admit that I have been a charity slut to ALL of the above. (Okay, not the whales.)

But my heart was not in it. I just felt like there was an expectation that I needed to give something to keep up my reputation . . .

. . . and I hate to disappoint.

.  . .so I gave in  and gave a little something so that I wouldn’t feel bad.

. . . but then I STILL felt bad because what I gave didn’t MEAN anything and it actually DEPRIVED me of the ability to give generously to the people that God has put on my heart. Ughhh.

************

A few years ago, I was in a Bible study with a super wise, brilliant, hilarious, former PNG missionary gal.  In her insightful way, she admitted that she hated the Casting Crowns song that says the following:

“But if we are the Body
Why aren’t His arms reaching
Why aren’t His hands healing
Why aren’t His words teaching
And if we are the Body
Why aren’t His feet going
Why is His love not showing them there is a way
There is a way”

Being a person who is terrified to admit to disliking Christian songs at a Bible study, I inquired why she didn’t like such a seemingly worthy tune. She explained that it was because WE ARE doing all those things. She felt that instead of disparaging the job we are doing, we should encourage each other to do even better.  We should be thrilled to know that HE is doing all of that and He is using us to do it. (Maybe she didn’t say she hated it, but I think we all understand the point she was making.)

She went on to lead us through an exercise where she asked each of us to write down what ONE person or ministry we would give $1000 to if we had money to spare. Then we shared.

It was ASTONISHING to me.  There was not a single duplicate in the group. One person had a heart for Bible translation. Another for breast cancer research. Another homeless people. Another needy children.  Another wanted to give to a family member.

Her point and now mine is . . . . God gives us each a concern for different areas of need.  We are uniquely qualified to serve, care, pray for, and give to those ministries or people. We should follow that inclination!  He will get the job done through all of us IF we let Him. But don’t do the work of another person in the Body. Let God use THEM to do their giving and you to do yours.

Therefore, instead of slutting your money away hither and yon in a trivial and half-hearted way, take a minute before all the hustle and bustle begins, to consider how much God is asking you to give as a good steward. Then decide, where you are going to be best able to cheerfully INVEST your money, your time, your prayers. What has God caused you to really CARE about?

Do you want to give missionaries the financial bump they need to get them through a more expensive time? What about those shoeboxes? What about that food bank that you know is doing such a good job in your area? Maybe you need to give to that single mom who just looks WAY. TOO. TIRED.

Then, give it away. Give it away where your HEART motivates. Not your guilt.

When you get another call or letter or request, just say, “I’ve already given my charitable donations to another ministry this year.” Then repeat. Then repeat again. Don’t feel guilty. You’re not a charity slut. :)

PS: Here’s a little Scriptural back-up in case you like to make sure I’m not making this crazy stuff up again.  The bolded sections are my emphasis.

2 Corinthians 9:6-8 NIV

 6 Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. 7 Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. 8 And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.

Luke 12:33-35 (NIV)

33 Sell your possessions and give to the poor. Provide purses for yourselves that will not wear out, a treasure in heaven that will never fail, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys. 34 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

Okay, true confessions, have you ever been a charity slut?

 

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15 Responses to Don’t be a Charity Slut this Year

  1. Liz November 16, 2011 at 9:46 pm #

    Hello, my name is Liz, and I am a charity slut. Great post, Katrina. This really speaks to me.

    • katrina November 16, 2011 at 10:06 pm #

      Liz, you crack me up. Seriously, I had to write this post to give myself some encouragement after repeatedly turning down the same cashier for $1. :)

  2. Megan November 16, 2011 at 9:59 pm #

    I totally agree with the whole “charity slut” thing, and not feeling like you have to give to every charity asking for help. I’m not so sure about connecting it to the Casting Crowns song though. Just reading the chorus that you quoted it seems to fit, but if you look at the verses it doesn’t seem to relate to giving to others. The verses talk about people coming into church and not feeling welcomed.
    “It’s crowded in worship today
    As she slips in trying to fade into the faces.
    The girls teasing laughter is carrying farther than they know
    Farther than they know”
    That’s the first verse, but the second also is about someone visiting a church far from home and the “judgmental glances” he receives.
    The references included in the CD insert for this song are James 2:1-9 and I John 5:19-21.

    Our family usually tries to do some extra charitable giving around Christmas that is something our now 5 year old can help with and understand at some level, and through an organization that is also sharing the gospel. In previous years that has been the shoeboxes, which has been good to have him help pick out the items (even things he would rather have kept himself) and packing the box. We didn’t do that this year because our church didn’t advertise it and by the time I realized it was kind of late to pull it together. We’re hoping to identify a local family (through our church most likely) that could use some help this Christmas–that way our son can be involved in helping to shop for kids who might not otherwise receive gifts this year.

    • katrina November 16, 2011 at 10:05 pm #

      Megan, I know what you mean about the song. Hopefully it doesn’t sound like I’m knocking Casting Crowns, which is a great band. I just think this one lyric might be a rhetorical question taken a bit too far, but anyway . . .I’m glad that you are thinking through the giving with your kids. That’s AWESOME!

  3. Jason Smith November 17, 2011 at 8:31 am #

    Great post! If we do what you have described, then we will feel so free and not guilty because we will know that we are doing what God wants. I have recently had a similar struggle, but with time instead of money. I was pressured into volunteering more at church. As a single father there were many times that I just couldn’t do it and I felt terrible every time I had to say no. I felt like God was telling me that my “calling” for now is to be a devoted father. Sometime later He may have other plans for me, but this just isn’t my time. I ended up quitting the position I had at church and I feel so much freedom and joy in that decision. It seems like an oxymoron to say quitting a ministry was God’s will, but in this case I’m sure it was.

    • Penelope November 18, 2011 at 6:54 pm #

      Jason, only YOU can be the Father to your children. You’re right, your calling for now is to be a devoted father. If at some time there are ministry opportunities you and your children can do together, go for it. In the meantime, don’t feel guilty, you did the right thing. I speak as one who looks perfectly healthy, but have chronic, debilitating health challenges. I, too, say ‘no’ but do what I AM able to do when I am able to do it.

  4. ellen November 17, 2011 at 9:54 am #

    Thanks for these thoughts, Katrina, and the excellent point about the song lyrics. There are many preachers/pastors who do the same—dwelling on what we aren’t doing, rather than encouraging more of the good things the group is doing. Encouragement truly gets us going! Regarding the cashiers at HT who are required (or they have to give away a large bottle of soft drink:)) to ask us for a donation to 2nd harvest, I always say no, we give to World Vision, thanks. (But I still feel a “little” guilty, which is my general emotional response to many things, so I try to ignore it.)

  5. Penelope November 18, 2011 at 6:59 pm #

    I, too, say ‘no’ to the request from the cashier at HT. I, too, feel slightly guilty…but I still say ‘no.’ My husband and I sit down in January to budget our tithe for the year. We’ve based our ministry choices on those things listed in Scripture where we are to help, which includes the local church. Then we write the checks as soon as we are able to write them. We don’t usually give extra at holiday time. I may drop my loose change in the Salvation Army bucket…OK, I only did it once…but usually all the seasonal charity appeals are ignored; we’ve already given to those places which are near and dear to us long before.

  6. Stephen November 11, 2012 at 11:51 pm #

    I just wanted to commend you on a great post, and perhaps support you from a different angle. I work at a mission, and have worked with the homeless for the last 4.5 years. Although we do benefit (perhaps on a superficial level) from “charity sluts” it is those who invest themselves that truly make a difference. Every year at this time we are overwhelmed with people who want to volunteer for the holidays. So much so, that we have to turn people away. I guess my point is that the clients that I work with know who the charity sluts are. They know who is only here out of guilt or to meet some sort of moral quota for the year. It is the volunteers who are here week in and week out who make a difference. Those who truly invest their time and resources out of love. They are the ones who know their names, share in their joys, and help to bear their burdens. That is where the difference is made.

    • Katrina November 12, 2012 at 12:12 pm #

      Stephen, this is a great comment and reinforces something I’ve been thinking about lately with regard to getting families, church groups, etc to REGULARLY support ministries with gifts and time rather than piling it on once a year in a way that actually BURDENS ministries and creates the false sense that “they don’t need me.” I worked as a temp one season for Samaritan’s Purse (OCC) and I definitely saw a lot of this. The idea of a “moral quota” is an interesting concept. Maybe come January or February, I need to do a post asking people to tap into some of that Christmas spirit and generosity.

    • Karen R. November 19, 2012 at 2:23 pm #

      You are so right about investing time/effort/money on a continuing basis. That is how I have a more meaningful experience, build healthy relationships, and learn about things that really matter. “Hit and Run” giving does little for the soul.

      • Katrina November 19, 2012 at 2:31 pm #

        “Hit and Run” giving is a good expression. I’m also realizing that “hit and run” giving is not very transformative for the recipients either. Becoming a partner with ministries that we really care about is the best way to make a different. Thanks for your comment!

  7. Kelli November 19, 2012 at 6:50 pm #

    Have you read the statistics though? Like how much is given to missionaries compared to how much is used for gum this year? I like the idea of your post. But I’m not sure we as Christians are doing what we should, out of our overflow of love for what Christ has done for us. There is a quote that says, “Many Christians are willing to be persecuted for Christ, but they are not willing to be inconvenienced for Him”. I know many are. Why are there still orphans? But why are the ends of the world not being reached? Not for lack of Christians…

    • Katrina November 19, 2012 at 10:03 pm #

      I see your point. I do. I just think that when we are better stewards, we are better givers. In general, I believe in a rampant, lavish generosity, but I get frustrated with a glut of meaningless giving that results in a “one and done” mindset. I guess if I have to painfully extend my analogy into awkwardness, I want to say that we should give of ourselves in love, completely, fully, regularly, and intimately–not randomly and thoughtlessly.

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