When many people think back to the best times in our life, often a part of this memory is the experience of giving to another. One of my fondest memories was when I participated in a volunteer trip two years after Hurricane Katrina devastated many parts of New Orleans, LA. Our volunteer group participated in the clean up of both a day care center and a school library. By the end of the week, many of the trip members (including myself) felt this experience to be so profound that it changed our lives forever. In fact, it was so profound for me that it had some weight in my decision to go back to graduate school and pursue my Masters degree in Social Work. So, when I started reading The Power of Giving by Azim Jamal and Harvey McKinnon, memories of experiences in my life where I had given something came back to me, and I was reminded of how impactful the feeling of generosity can be.
This book, at 180 pages, is actually a quick read, and provides helpful exercises in each chapter that can stimulate thoughts for the reader in how they can give more than they already do in their life. Jamal and McKinnon recognize the importance of creating a culture of abundance in all aspects of ones life: home, work, and community. The authors give real-life examples of their own experiences with giving and also share the stories of other individuals who have similar experiences. The book reminds us that much of what is important in life is to find meaning, fulfillment, and happiness in the experiences that we have. The authors are convinced (and I am, too) that this kind of life can be led through generosity.
For those that feel that giving may be challenging, or that they don’t know where to start, this book may actually be extremely helpful for you in brainstorming and organizing your thoughts around what you can and might want to give. The chapters cover the following topics: why you should give, what you can give, to whom should you give, and how, when where, and how much to give. In each chapter, the authors give examples and/or exercises that may help the reader generate ideas of generosity as well.
I would like to leave you with one of the exercises that Jamal and McKinnon have created for the reader in generating ideas on their own. If you have a few minutes, try this exercise and see if you come up with any ideas. Your answers may lead you to feel inspired to give more than you already give, or may help you to narrow down your thoughts on what you may want to contribute in the future. I would encourage you to incorporate these exercises (and the general content of this book) into both Children’s and Adult Religious Education programming. This book can also be a great resource for sermons on stewardship and giving. Perhaps your church could even start a book group, and have this book as a reading selection? The possibilities are endless!