I'm sure most of you are familiar with the book "The Purpose Driven Life" by Rick Warren. Years ago it was THE book everyone was reading, possibly even more popular than The Twilight series! I'll admit, I was one of those skeptics who thought this was just a fad..just another best selling self help book and my inner non-conformist didn't want to just jump on the bandwagon. But tonight I caught Pastor Rick Warren on the Piers Morgan show on CNN and now I'm sold. The guy is the real deal. Open minded, sensible and grounded. He spoke very candidly and simply--which I found very refreshing. I felt so guilty that I actually thought he would be one of those pretentious and self righteous preachers who like being on TV. He spoke about his beliefs and I was just so amazed at how simple he was able to explain it without sounding all high and holy. He then spoke about GIVING and this is what really moved me. He and his wife give 91% of their earnings to missions work--91%?!?! Wuuuhaaaat?!?! Can you imagine that?!?! So they have managed to live of only 9% of his earnings. Of course he's a very successful author and preacher so his 9% is pretty substantial but for him to actually declare it publicly--and set aside all that money for God instead of being the next bajillionaire, WOW. Napabilib talaga ako. Hayyyy, parang ang dali-dali lang noh? How do people like Rick Warren do it? How I wish I was in that position! Warren shared that they started small, increasing their tithing each year from 10% to 11%, from 11% to 12% and so on. And even in the not so good years, the years when they were just making ends meet--they still increased their giving and trusted completely in God. He stressed that his giving allows him to let go of materialism, which is a very fulfilling feeling according to him. By giving, it also makes him more like Jesus--as God himself GAVE us the ultimate gift: his son, Jesus.
This reminded me of our trip to Bali a few weeks back. Patrick and I really took the time to chat with every local we would encounter..from the taxi drivers, tour guides, hotel staff, etc. I find that chatting with the locals is the best way to really fully understand the culture and mindset of the people :) Plus it's nice to make new friends! Hehe. Anyway, there was always a common trend in all our conversations---it was their devotion to their gods. We spoke mostly to Hindus (majority of Balinese people are Hindu), and they explained to us how about 60-70% of their earnings go to religious practices. Whether it's offering food for their gods 3x a day, spending for a ceremony/special ritual, or treating the whole village to a feast to honor a specific god. I'm not quite sure how it goes as they didn't divulge all the details but basically they set aside majority of their money willingly and cheerfully out of devotion and reverence.
Now, I'm not telling you to give majority of your money away. Look, I too have bills to pay ( A LOT OF THEM!!! They just keep showing up uninvited!Grrr) and obligations/commitments to fulfill---and so yes, we NEED money and cannot afford to make big donations. The reality for me and Pat is we have this much money and can only set aside a small portion for now. God provides for us so we can be good stewards of his blessings--so that also means being responsible providers for our respective families. Kung susunod kami kay Rick Warren, baka gutumin na kami nyan. Di pa namin ata kaya mag 91%! Grabe na yun! Hahaha! But listening to Rick Warren and remembering our long talks with the Balinese people reminded me that it is important to actually SET ASIDE money for others. I don't think the amount really matters (sure more money means more opportunities to help others---duhhh!) but I guess the focus is more the heart of the giver. We shouldn't just give when we have excess funds or to just give out of pity from time to time. Giving should be something very basic, something we JUST HAVE TO DO. Whether you're giving because you believe it will bring you good karma (like the Hindus)---or you're giving to be a blessing to others--or you're giving because it's what is expected of you. GIVING is and will always be an admirable practice. It's one of my most favorite human traits. 1) It's showing that person (you are giving to) that he/she matters and that his happiness is something you value 2) It's showing God that you are investing in HIS work and acknowledging that all these things you enjoy all come from HIM.--that even if you yourself are in dire need of that money, you still choose to set it aside to bless others because that's what He has commanded us to do.
But the truth is GIVING is HARD to do. I'm with you guys on this. It's easy when you have a lot to give away--but if you're like me and Pat who are newlyweds, earning just enough to pay the bills, worrying about our future, planning for tomorrow---giving has to be a conscious decision. You have to pray for God to make you a cheerful giver, you have to ask for him to make it easy for you. Christmas always seems to be special because it's the "season of giving"---but why should we just isolate giving to the month of December? Maybe God wants us to be givers all year round!
So this is my ULTIMATE prayer request for 2013. That God will allow Pat and I to be happy givers. Whether it's our finances, talents, skills, or TIME--basta may maibigay kami sa iba. Like Rick Warren, I too want to live a life of purpose--a life for others. What a BIG (and ambitious) goal, huh?? Hayyy, sana matupad yun para sa min! That would be a dream come true for us! :)