Give Generously

We got stuff.* We got so much stuff that one of the growth industries in the USA today is the mini-warehouse business. They’re popping up in nearly every neighborhood.

A few years ago I rented one of those storage units to store stuff that was left over from a business I closed. After I paid the rent for six months I realized the stuff in storage was worth less than the six months of rent I had paid. How dumb is that?

My grandfather who died over 50 years ago owned a small farm implement factory in Julesburg, Colorado. In his factory were all kinds of welding and fabricating equipment. He also owned a fishing boat, a nice car, and a lovely house with some pretty nice furniture in it. But you know what? All of his stuff is gone except his house; some other family lives there now.

The wife and I, we have our own stuff. In fact, our house is filled with stuff our kids will never want. Our walls are lined with art and artifacts from around the world, shelves are filled with hundreds of books, the storage room in the basement has stacks of files, trunks of memorabilia, and boxes and boxes of slides, photos and videos. We don’t even know what’s in some of the boxes.

One day, hopefully not too soon, all our stuff will disappear at an estate sale run by our kids or grandkids. Same thing for your stuff. That’s what happens to stuff.

Here’s a thought that might help us put all that stuff in perspective: What is left of your life or mine after we are gone is not the stuff we owned but the good we did.

A few years ago at an adult Sunday school class in another state the teacher asked his students to tell about the person who had the greatest impact on their lives. Someone who was there told me that four or five of the students named my father as the man who inspired them the most.

It wasn’t the stuff he owned that inspired them, it was the wisdom he shared, the example he showed, and the bigheartedness with which he lived his life.

Here’s this week’s kick in the pants: Give your life away for something more than stuff. Someday all your stuff will fade or rust or break or somehow just disappear and the only thing left will be the gifts of wisdom, love and joy you gave to those about you.

Give generously. Start with the person closest to you. Then help someone far away. And don’t give them stuff, give them you and give generously.

 *With apologies to the late George Carlin.Warning on the link – I do not approve of all of Carlin’s language but his riff on stuff is legendary.

To listen to Dr. Ross reading the above essay click here >Give Generously

©2012 Ronald D. Ross

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