That’s what he called me. I was at a retreat participating in an exercise called “Giver or Taker” in which we honestly assessed each person in these two broad categories. He looked me straight in the eye, paused for a few moments, and in all seriousness assessed me as a Taker.
I wasn’t very pleased to hear this review of myself. In fact, it made me down right mad. “This guy hardly knows me,” I retorted to myself. “What an idiot! I’ve given my whole life to serve others. If ever there was a Giver it’s me!!”
It really bothered me that he saw me as a Taker instead of a Giver. It still does. We weren’t close friends, but we had spent enough time together for him to develop an informed opinion of me and clearly he saw me far differently than I saw myself.
It is unhealthy for people to take on every label others attempt to pin on them. But it is equally as unhealthy when we never ask why people deem these labels as appropriate. Why did he see me as a Taker? What is he seeing that I’m not seeing? Is there any truth to what this man is telling me?
Truth be told, I am a lot more occupied with fulfilling my own needs than I admit. I like being important. I like being needed. I like being in charge. I like attention. I like recognition. I like comfort. I like fun. I like painless. I like being liked. If I’m honest, taking is what comes natural to me. I don’t have to work at taking because I automatically organize my life in a fashion that makes me feel good and I often take what I need to accomplish this goal.
Giving is a learned behavior. Giving is unnatural for me. Giving is part of my transformation. Giving is who I’m becoming. I wish I could say that giving is who I am, but I don’t think it is yet. Giving is what I’m practicing so that it becomes who I am. My children have made me a better giver, but I still have room to grow.
Part of what we do at church is practice giving. Every time we get together there are opportunities to give. In fact, one could argue that a significant role of church in personal spiritual development is to remold me from a Taker into a Giver. If I’m growing and if my church is healthy, then the longer I am part of a church the better I become at giving.
I come to church to practice giving. Yes I receive at times, but I come to give. Jesus was a Giver and those who follow him are becoming Givers as well.