Here in Northern Virginia, we basically had no snow all winter. I never touched a snow shovel. I have several of them hanging in my garage and had considered relocating them to my basement. However, I told myself there was still a chance I’d have to use them. Plus, I figured I’d be forced to put them into service the moment I toted them downstairs.
Sure enough, on the first full day of spring, we had a significant snowfall. By significant, I mean I had to get the shovels out. Joy of joys…
“I needed the exercise…”
I don’t mind shoveling a little snow. Still, I’m always happy when I can avoid it. Since I’m in a brand-new neighborhood, I kept watching out of the corner of my eye to see if there was some overachiever raring to try out his new snow blower on my sidewalks. If there was such a guy, I never spotted him. No worries… I needed the exercise anyway.
Maybe next year, I can invest in a snow blower of my own. Then I can be the guy who trots around the neighborhood doing not so random acts of kindness. It would definitely be more fun than being on the taking end. I can be a gracious receiver, but the feeling of giving is far more rewarding.
I had to learn that lesson the hard way. I was always very happy to receive from someone else’s hand when I was young. Giving of what I had was not my strong suit. For a long time, I didn’t have much in the way of physical possessions, so I was overly protective of what I did have (sometimes to the point of stinginess).
It was even worse when I was a young pastor. By that time, I just figured everyone owed me. After all, I was in God’s service, you know. What a crock!
CHEAP, CHEAP, CHEAP!
Then one day, I attended a John Maxwell leadership conference. It was attended by pastors like myself for the most part. Maxwell took us to task. He flat out said that most pastors were cheap. CHEAP! For example, he talked about us all having alligator arms when we went out to dinner.
Normally, I would have gotten angry, self-righteous, and more than a little defensive at such a suggestion. This time was different. I didn’t know about anyone else in attendance, but I knew he was speaking directly to me. He had me dead to rights. That conference became a turning point in my life.
From that moment on, I’ve made a concerted effort to be more generous, gracious, and giving. Two things immediately began to change in my life. First of all, I became a much happier person. Maybe just as importantly, the Lord began to bless me in ways I hadn’t experienced up to that point. I say just as importantly because, the more blessed I was, the more generous I became. It was like a snowball effect—kind of like a snowfall in spring.
[Dave Zuchelli is a graduate of Pittsburgh Theological Seminary and is currently pastor of Smith Chapel in Great Falls, VA.]