Deeper, Closer, Wider
Here at Grace Chapel, we finished up our teaching series on generosity this week called, NEXT: Following a God Who’s Always on the Move. For me personally, this was a pivotal series for my spiritual growth. Like many of us, throughout the majority of my life, I’ve been implicitly taught that getting beats giving any day. American schooling and sports tell us to make every effort to get through achieving, accomplishing, winning, and outdoing. Getting ahead is how you leave your mark. Getting recognized is how you build a platform to influence. Getting is the only way to get what you are entitled to—the perfect job, house, spouse, kids, life, whatever. In a dog-eat-dog world, giving will get you nowhere. So why give? You’ll only become a doormat for others to get what they want. So get, don’t give. This is the American Way. Get it?
But throughout our series, we’ve discovered there’s a better way, an alternative way, a subversive way to all the competing, greedy, violent, and malicious ways that comprise the American Way. It’s the Jesus Way. He not only died for us, but showed us how to live—really live. His way of life was exclusively about giving not getting—incarnation, death, resurrection, promised return—and he lived the greatest life imaginable. His memorable words reflect his even more unforgettable way of life: “You’re far happier giving than getting” (Acts 20:35, Msg). While these words seem totally counterintuitive and utterly unlivable, I’ve been fascinated to learn that several of my favorite speakers and writers base their approach to teaching, entertaining, and communicating as if Jesus’ words actually worked.
Comedian Michael Jr. says that the biggest break in his stand-up career was the moment that he realized his purpose as a comedian was not to get laughs, but to give people the opportunity to laugh. This changed everything for him.
USC Philosophy Professor, Dallas Willard, noted that before he did whatever he was about to do—teaching, writing, speaking—he would remind himself that his purpose was to do everything as an act of love. In other words, Dallas’s aim was not to impress, look smart, or receive affirmation, but to love. Striving to love is how living to give and not get best plays out.
Author and popular TED speaker, Simon Sinek, notes that a big part of his life mantra is the declaration: “I always show up to give.” He argues that the most viral TED talks have gone viral because the speakers spoke in service to the audience, not to their own agendas. Rather than trying to market their product or get notoriety or get people to follow them on Twitter, the best speakers strive to freely share what they’ve found for the betterment of their listeners, and, in turn, the betterment of the world. He believes this is the characteristic difference between brilliant and authentic speakers versus speakers who want to get something for themselves.
What if Sinek’s motto, “I always show up to give,” became the driving refrain of each and every one of our lives, each and every day? We would be living as if what Jesus taught was actually true, wouldn’t we? Giving is greater than getting. That’s what living by faith is all about.
So my brothers and sisters, may we resist the intuitive forces in our lives that insist we strive to get, because if we don’t get we won’t have, and, instead, believe Jesus’ words that we’re far happier giving than getting. We can begin by taking a simple step: Show up to give. Whatever your next job, whatever your next appointment, whatever’s next on your calendar, show up to give. And then show up to give again, and again, and again. You might find that the Jesus Way is better than the American Way any day.
Dave Ripper is Grace Chapel's Lexington Campus Pastor and Pastor of Young Adults Ministry. He can be reached at