Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of July 15, 2002
Much was received; time to give back
By MSGR. JIM LISANTE
My friend Tom has been lucky. He has a successful career, found the right person to marry, and together they have two beautiful children. It wasn't always easy. For many years, Tom struggled to get ahead. He delayed marrying, uncertain that he'd have the means to support a home and a family. In other words, Tom was like many folks who work hard to realize financial success.
Now, Tom's income combined with his wife's insures great financial security. Their two salaries not only allowed them to pay off the mortgage on their primary home, but also to purchase and renovate a vacation home by the shore.They are in the category of what Forbes magazine calls "the new and unexpected millionaires."
Recently, I went out to lunch with Tom and we talked about success. Tom finds it hard to fathom that someone from a middle-class background is where he is today. He grew up in a home where the paycheque assured the basics would be covered that week, including food, heat and mortgage payments. There was little left over for anything vaguely approaching what we might call luxuries.
But from an early age, Tom's parents had filled him and his brothers and sisters with the belief that everything was possible for those who work hard. So, from his teens on, Tom worked at least one and sometimes two jobs after school. A fairly average student, he gave it that much more time and attention. It looks as if his parents were right: his efforts paid off.
Our conversation then turned to obligation. When Tom was busy struggling to build his life, there was little time or resources left over for others. School and jobs made volunteer work a nice idea whose time would come. Bills and school loans made giving to others seem almost impossible.
But that's all changed. The challenge now: how to give back. My friend recently found himself dropping a dollar into the collection basket at his church and realized that a dollar is what he gave back when he had very little to give.
That's not true anymore. He can afford to contribute far more to Church and charities.
Tom is facing the challenge of a changing outlook. He is richly blessed. And with a conscience built on the idea that "to whom much has been given, much will be required," Tom wants to make a difference. He has to start developing a deeper level of generosity. As our conversation progressed, Tom expressed his desire to see ways in which he can share more of his blessings with others. I know this is a new and uncharted road for him. But he understands it's the next step to take.
He is not unique. I know scores just like him who are now living at a level of income and possessions they had never imagined might be possible. Their success can be a very good thing. It can free them to give, to share and to build a better world. But to do that, they need to survey their blessings, and then determine how they can use them in the service of others.
Maybe my friend's story is like your own. Have you done well in life? Can you provide for your loved ones? Can you do more to help those in need?
If you answer "yes" to these questions, it's time to think anew about your responsibilities. You have a wonderful opportunity to dedicate yourself to making the world a better place than you found it. "From everyone to whom much has been given, much will be required." (Luke 12:48)
(For a free copy of the Christopher News Note, Being a Good Neighbour, write: The Christophers, 12 East 48 St., New York, NY, 10017; or e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.)
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