Tuesday, 13 October 2009

Giving Generously

Tithing, as my mentor Geoff Thompson would explain, is the ancient belief that if you give without thought of personal gain, you will actually receive back ten-fold.

Giving not to receive, but knowing you will actually receive anyway.

This is a great notion and one that I am striving hard to achieve more and more. However, what I feel is even more important, is not just the act of giving, but what we actually give.
What I mean by this is that in order to give generously; for it to be true tithing, we need to gift things that we value and not things which are easy of us to replace or which we have an ample supply of.

For example, it’s easy for the wealthy celebrity to “do a lot of work for charity”, when they still have their private jet to fly home in. Please don’t get me wrong, I’m wise enough to appreciate that celebrities can offer charities far more with their public position and fame than they can in monetary terms, and this article is in no way aimed at having a dig at those people, far from it.

What I do mean though, is that giving something that you have worked hard to earn for yourself, or giving something which you have precious little of yourself, is a far bigger and more wonderful tithing.

Someone who I consider a close friend of mine recently reached onto their bookshelf to offer me a title that they thought I would find of use and assistance. I happily accepted their kind offer without first seeing the book in question. However, once the book was placed in my hand, I realised it was very old, very well read, and most likely, very difficult to replace.

My immediate reaction was to suggest I hand it back once I had read it, to which my friend replied and said,
“No, I want you to have it”

Now, perhaps, I thought, this book wasn’t that good after all, and that is why my friend was happy to see it go from his book collection.Of course, I was wrong. It was a fantastic read and one that I will continue to use for inspiration and assistance in my future articles and books.A truly generous gift.

And it was this gift which reminded me of another story that I’d like to share.

Forgive me for not re-reading the book in order to quote the story accurately, but it was a story from Anthony Kiedis’ life story, entitled Scar Tissue. Anthony Kiedis, the lead singer of the Red Hot Chilli Peppers, recalls a story when he was young and rummaging through the wardrobe of a celebrity friend.
He stumbled across a fantastic leather jacket and told the celebrity how great it was. His friend replied,
“Yes, it’s my favourite jacket... you can have it”.
Anthony being polite said,
“No, I can’t. I couldn’t accept your favourite jacket”
To which his friend replied,
“That is why I want you to have it. Why would I give you something which I don’t like myself”

And this is my point exactly.

True tithing is the giving of what we feel is precious to us. Something we have limited resource from, possibly something we cannot replace ever again.

The best example of that is our time.
We can get back pretty much everything else that we lose, except for time. Once it’s gone it’s gone and so to offer our time to others is the most generous of gifts. This has to be closely followed by things that we’ve worked extremely hard to earn and make our own, perhaps our knowledge and our skills.

And here we have it, the generous gift of teaching.

As a martial arts instructor, it’s my job to pass on everything I have spent the vast majority of my life learning and discovering. Often with hardships and pain along the way. True tithing is to gift my students with all that I know, the best that I know and not hold anything back. Giving them my time and my attention along the way.

We all tithe, all of the time, often without realising it, so we must make sure we do it generously. Selflessly not selfishly. From the monetary donations we make, to the time we spend with others, even down to the words we use. Because, just like any gift, the words you give to others are very difficult to take back, so choose them wisely and make them generous.

And remember...

"We make a living through what we get, but we make a life through what we give"
Winston Churchill

"Think of giving, not as a duty, but as a privilege"
John D Rockefeller Jr

Stay Safe and have fun

Al x

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