3 Ways Giving Impacts Your Soul

Growing up, my parents paid us kids for chores we did around the house. We always called it an allowance but now I understand it was more of a commission — we didn’t get paid unless we did the work.

Regardless, when the highly anticipated payday arrived (yay, $1.50 in the BANK!), my parents would use it as a two-fold learning opportunity.

  1. They taught us how to tithe from our very first dollar earned.
  2. They taught us how to figure out what 10% was ourselves (that decimal point is a tricky one).

For those who don’t know, the tithe is a form of giving that God commanded the Israelites to do back in the Old Testament.

Here’s the definition straight from the dictionary.

tithe | tīT͟H | 

noun | one tenth of annual produce or earnings, formerly taken as a tax for the support of the Church and clergy.

My parents taught us that as Christians, we give 10% of what we earn to the church and then we give offerings as well. To be clear, the “tithe” and the “offering” are different. Tithe is the first tenth, and offerings are above and beyond the tithe.

Okay, but why give?

For one, God commanded it. Seems legit.

Giving started in the Old Testament and continued into the New Testament as a way to provide for the needs of widows, orphans, and church workers.

God has given each of us certain possessions that we value immensely. Some more, some less. It doesn’t even have to be money that we value; the point is that it all comes from God.

But what are some practical reasons we should give away what we’ve worked so hard to gain?

Here is why Bailey and I give and why you should, too:

1. Giving builds our trust in god to provide for our daily needs

What better way of surrendering your trust to God than by giving away something you need to live?

This act of faith is expressed very well in Mark 12 when a widow gives her last two pennies to the church of her day. Jesus makes note that she gave more in faith than all those who put bags of money into the treasury.

2. Giving Reminds us whose money it is that we hold

This may be difficult for some to understand but literally nothing we have is actually our own.

In the Bible, Job had everything anyone could have asked for at the time. He had a large family, servants, and an unbelievable number of livestock. The Bible describes him as “greatest of all the people of the east” (Job 1:3b). However, God allowed the devil to take away everything from Job, leaving him with nothing but a nagging wife and a horrible skin disease.

One of my favorite verses in the Bible shows his reaction at his weakest point.

And [Job] said, “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return. The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.”

Job 1:21

Job went from owning everything to nothing in less than a day. And yet, he understood the source of his wealth. He held everything he had with an open hand. What he had was taken, but if you read to the end of the chapter, you’ll find even more was given back.

Again, let me say, he understood the source of his wealth. Living with this kind of attitude honestly gives a lot more room for happiness in life. It’s a lot easier to give a friend’s Xbox back to him when you know it was only yours to borrow in the first place.

3. Giving creates the ultimate retirement account

We like to think that giving is an entirely selfless thing to do. It is selfless if it is done with the right intensions, however, there’s definitely a rewards system mixed in. Giving is kinda like a retirement account.

What is saving for retirement? In essence, it is delayed gratification.

You have to delay buying what you want in order that you will have money later in retirement. God created us humans to be motivated by rewards which is why he puts some motivation straight into the Bible.

Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

Matthew 6: 19-21

What is being said is this: Here on Earth, everything we have is temporary. Our money, our possessions — we will lose it all when we die. But by giving our money to God’s work and those in legitimate need, we are building for ourselves the ultimate retirement nest-egg — eternal treasure! The delayed gratification of not buying everything we want here on Earth is that we get much more in heaven.

P.S. This talk about good works is not to be confused with the work of Christ dying on the cross which is the only way to heaven.

I love what the famous missionary, Jim Elliot, had to say on the topic of giving:

“He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.”

~Jim Elliot

FOR BAILEY AND I, Giving is personal

I can honestly say that giving has influenced how Bailey and I handle our money. I am naturally materialistic.

Like, recently, I have had this fascination with the new Chevy Colorado. It’s a pretty sharp vehicle and I want one just for the sake of having one.

Giving, on the other hand, puts the money we have into perspective. And I find that as Bailey and I have increased our giving from just the tithe into the realm of offerings, it humbles me. And that makes it really personal for us when we put a check in the offering plate.

How does giving affect your view of your possessions?

I want to hear from you in the comments below! And as always, if you found value in this post, give it a like and give me a follow!

-Caleb

If you’re interested in reading an absolutely excellent book about giving and what it means from a Christian perspective, check out The Treasure Principle by Randy Alcorn. I loved this book and wrote about it briefly in a post about the books I read last year.

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How to Design Memorable Moments for Yourself and Others

My family and I traveled to Yosemite National Park in 2014 to do some hiking and camping before I hit my first semester at Ohio State that fall. Literally a day before we left, I had a small blister pop up on my arm.

It was larger than normal poison ivy but I’ve had poison ivy plenty of times so I wasn’t worried. (Isn’t this how all overly dramatic stories begin?) Until the next day when I pulled my jacket off in the San Francisco Airport. To my horror, the blister had grown and spread in the mere 5-6 hours of flying we had just completed. Over the next 7 days, it got so bad that we had to visit a medical clinic so I could get some steroids to fight what we then knew was poison oak.

The funny thing is, even though I remember the discomfort of having blisters all over my left arm, that’s not what I remember most about that trip. I started listening to Chip and Dan Heath’s book The Power of Moments recently and understood why. Our brains are wired to remember defining moments. Sure, I remember the poison oak, but I even more vividly remember our 15-mile round trip hike to Cloud’s Rest near Half Dome.

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I remember taking our goofy family “WHAT!?” pictures because it was out of the ordinary.

I remember running into an astronomy club on a mountain and getting to see the most unbelievable display of stars with professionals to describe what I was looking at.

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Looking back, I see how I remember defining moments in my life or even just a vacation.

The premise of the book is this: significant, memorable moments don’t have to just happen to us. They can be designed into life.

And more specifically, you can design defining moments into other people’s lives. 

Chip and Dan outline defining moments as those that occur through four different avenues: elevation, pride, insight, and connection. Here they are.

Moments of Elevation

These are through something unexpected. It is doing an activity that is out of the ordinary. My dad took me on my first fishing trip when I was 6 years old. That was a defining moment for me because it wasn’t anything I had ever experienced in my day to day life.

Moments of Pride

These are moments in which you or someone else has a sense of pride about something. For me, college graduation commencement created a sense of pride in me (oh my word was engineering difficult), making it a defining moment.

Moments of Insight

These involve helping you or someone else realize something new. I realized when I edited my first short video with some friends that I loved filmmaking.

Moments of Connection

These can involve showing particular interest or care for others. A friend of mine wrote me the most meaningful letter I have ever received about six months ago. That was a moment of connection when I read that letter.

This book changed how I think about impact because it put into understandable language the reason I feel a particular way about every big (defining) moment I remember. So this week I am going to take it to heart and create a moment of connection by writing a letter of gratitude to someone I know. 

If you want to design moments that are powerful in your life or others, the Heaths say do things that fit into these categories. You will create meaningful memories that last!

What are your biggest memories and how do they fit into the four kinds of moments? I want to hear from you in the comments!

-Caleb

Why I Haven’t Written About Faith in a Long Time

Two and a half years ago, I was entering my fifth and final year of college at The Ohio State University. It was a tough run and one way I chose to mentally process all my experiences was through writing. I found it a slow, effective process to put my thoughts into coherent sentences (whether or not they were actually coherent).

So, as every rational, busy college student would do, I started a blog. The Buckeye Beacon as I called it. It was going to be the next thing that OSU students would read every week. I even imagined people recognizing me on campus!

A friend of mine, Ethan, would take turns with me writing a blog post every week. It gave our blog a consistent stream of posts while providing us a fun way of sharing thoughts and improving our writing.

We even reached a rather consistent three views a day. Not bad for a couple whippersnapper engineering students.

In May of 2017, I obtained that infamous bachelor degree, then subsequently exited the bachelor scene as I tied the knot with my girlfriend of two years. And I dropped off with my blogging. My Facebook friends actually got a break from Caleb’s stream of consciousness every week.

“He’s like everyone else on Facebook except he has way to much to say in one status update” I could imagine them saying. 

But I had a wife to spend time with every evening after farming my desk for eight hours at my new engineering job. I gave it a break. It didn’t, however, change the fact that writing continued to be an effective way for me to communicate. So, I wrote a book about graduating and entering the real world called Graduated and Clueless.

And I started this blog.

I have had this intense desire ever since I graduated to reach the greatest potential God has for me.

I wanted to grow in my leadership. I wanted to improve my communication both in writing and in speech. I wanted grow in my character and influence. And I wanted to have a consistent avenue through which I could communicate what I am learning and how I’m growing. The only problem is, I had branded The Buckeye Beacon as a spiritual-growth blog. Nothing’s wrong with that until you write about something personal-growth related and no one reads it. What a motivator.

Why not brand a new blog directed only towards personal growth for students and young professionals? Keep them separate. It’s like Church and State in blog form.

Now I had two blogs to write: one for my spiritual growth whenever I had time and one for personal growth every week.

This was when I realized: personal growth involves improving every major part of me. 

For me, Jesus Christ is the one person that affects everything I do. I believe in eternity (both Heaven and Hell) and the power of His blood to save me from my sins. Because of this deep belief, it influences my thoughts and my actions, my pursuits and my motives.

My faith directly affects my growth into who God wants me to be. 

I haven’t written on faith in a long time because I’ve been trying to focus my writing on branding a new blog. I will no longer be blogging at the The Buckeye Beacon but I will be sharing how faith influences me here at Master the Simple. I don’t want to feel like the two subjects I’m writing about are separate. They’re not because the one directly influences the other. Spiritual growth is even more important than personal growth and I will not be afraid to let the two connect.

If you don’t consider yourself spiritual, that’s ok. This blog still focuses on growth personally and professionally. However, my belief is that we are deeply spiritual beings and what I write will be impacted by that belief.

Thread Quest:

Do you allow your beliefs to impact the other areas of your life?

I certainly struggle with it. But I want to hear from you in the comments!

-Caleb

Two Things I Want in Life (and How I’m Getting Past the Fear of Them)

alphabet-business-close-up-326642Where do you want to go in life and do you want it enough? That’s the question I’ve been asking myself over the past year. There are certain things I want to do in life. One is be a speaker. I want to become a master communicator and I believe that part of that involves becoming a master at verbal communication specifically. But the whole goal of this blog and my pursuit of growth is Mastering the Simple to Become an Expert.

And that means I have to start small and build up.

Take a conversation I had recently with my sister, Atalie, about pursuing a possible speaking opportunity to a small group. This was a friend’s young men’s group who showed interest in me presenting to them based on the topics in my book. The leader showed interest while I was writing the book and we agreed to talk after I finished.

“I really do want to be a speaker. I want to contact the leader about giving the presentation but I’m having trouble actually doing it.”

“What’s holding you back?” Atalie responded.

I embarrassingly said, “Ok, I’m afraid I won’t have much to say and that they’ll ask me questions I have no idea how to answer.”

“So share about how God has grown you this last year and tell them that you are growing just like them and may not know the answers” she said with almost no hesitation.

That calmed my fear and made me think this was actually doable.

It simplified the fear and made it easier to move forward.

Subsequently, I contacted the leader that evening and asked if they would still be interested in me presenting. I am on their schedule for the end of October.

Here’s another thing I have wanted to do in my life: write a book to aid others in their transition to life after college. 

I wanted it enough that I worked almost every weekend and many, many weeknights for four months in order to get it done. But writing something and actually putting it out there for others to read are completely different things. I wanted to reach as many students as possible and part of that involved contacting local bookstores to see if they would be interested in selling my books on consignment.

This made me nervous because of the possibility of rejection.

I had to take the first step. So I contacted a local, college hangout bookstore to see if they would sell it. Sure enough, today they contacted me back and said they would be happy to sell it at least for a period of time. Score! And an exciting score at that.

Here’s my point. I’m not perfect by any means. I’m learning right alongside you. I don’t have the guts I would like to have when it comes to speaking and putting my work out there. I haven’t contacted anyone else about the potential of speaking. I haven’t physically walked into any bookstores and asked to speak to a manager about holding my book yet. But do I want it? Yes. Moving forward in that despite the fear is difficult. But I want it enough to take the first step which gives just a bit more motivation to make the next step that follows.

What do you want to pursue? Do you want it enough to get past your desire of comfort to get out there and do it? Do you have strategies to get past your fears?

I want to hear from you in the comments!

Until next time, onward!

-Caleb

 

Brand Yourself: How Your Words Affect Your Influence on Others

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This is the second post in a series about personal brand. Check out the first post titled Brand Yourself: How Your Actions Affect Your Impact.

I can directly recall two instances from my years growing up where the words of others impacted me. One bad. One good. Both impactful.

The first was when I was about ten years old. I was at a good friend’s house and we had an intense game of Capture the Flag going. Another kid (we’ll call him Jason) about my age was on the opposite team. During a time-out (of which I was apparently uninformed), I tagged Jason while he was on our team’s turf. He informed me of the invalidity of my tag.

Subsequently, he said under his breath, “Idiot.” 

That hurt to my ten-year-old ears. I’ve never forgotten the sting that word had even though it was a result of a simple mistake.

The second instance was actually more recent. About a year ago, I met with a good friend at Panera to catch up and after bidding farewell, he slipped me a note. This isn’t an everyday occurrence so naturally, I opened it when I got in the car. A letter filled with encouraging words stared at me after I unfolded the piece of paper.

Some of the most impactful words were, “I truly respect you as the man of God you are.”

I open it and read it every so often because of the encouragement it is to me.

Both of these words or phrases branded these individuals in ways they don’t understand.

As much as I don’t want to admit it, I have this rather deep insecurity creep in whenever I see and talk to Jason (since then, he’s become a great guy). But a simple word he spoke in the heat of a situation made more impact than he could have guessed. Contrarily, the guy who wrote me the letter remains one of my best and strongest friends to this day. And I guarantee he put a lot of thought into what he said to me. Here’s the point I want to make:

Every single word you speak will affect your influence on others. 

You can tear people down or build them up. The Bible says in Ephesians 4:29, “Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.”

What words do you use? Are they good for building up or for tearing down? Consider gossip. If someone is gossiping to me about someone else, I no longer trust them. If they talk about others behind their backs, I’m likely next.

Do you use profanity regularly? I recently had an encounter with a young salesman at a furniture store. He was familiar with a nice list of four-letter-words, lost my trust based on lies he used, and subsequently gave me a bad taste of the store because of his lack of professionalism. I’ve told at least a half-dozen people that I’ll never go there again.

If you want to have influence on your peers and leave a legacy, the words you choose will directly affect who will listen to you. I know that is the case for me.

What kinds of words do you use and how do you see them affecting your impact? 

I want to hear from you in the comments!

-Caleb

Read the next post in this series titled Brand Yourself: Four Questions to Ask Before Your Next Social Media Post