There are many examples of “takers” in the world today—celebrities who make outrageous demands on others. Katy Perry, Kanye West just to name a few. According to author and Wharton University professor Adam Grant in his book entitled Give and Take, the world can be divided into these two distinct groupings. In today’s text found in Mark 10, Jesus says we should be givers!
What does a “taker” look like? For one, they are overly concerned with role and position—with their “title.” We are “takers” when we become upset if we aren’t given a certain title or we don’t hold a particular position. No one can take God’s calling from us if that is what we are truly concerned about.
A “taker” is also concerned with self-promotion. They use words like “I” and “my” rather than “we” or “you.” In a study of companies, it was discovered that the size of the president’s photo in the annual report was a good predictor of whether or not that company had problems. Case in point: Ken Lay, the CEO of Enron.
In contrast, “givers” see themselves as servants. We find numerous examples of people in the New Testament referring to themselves as servants. What does this mean? First of all, it means you see yourself on assignment—life is primarily about doing what God wants, not about what you want. Second, a servant is someone who tries to be helpful to others. Being helpful doesn’t mean you simply do what people want—it involves doing what’s best for people.
A “giver” is also someone who is willing to be inconvenienced—interrupted by the needs of others. A giver is someone who is willing to babysit kids when they are tired and just want to watch TV or they take their Saturday to help someone pack up their apartment and move. It’s not glorious or glamorous and it often feels like a waste of time.
A “giver” is also willing to sacrifice—to give of themselves in every way: time, energy, resources. Sacrifice is modeled throughout the New Testament, in the life of Jesus, the apostle Paul and so many others.
Finally, a “giver” is someone who has great impact. Contrary to popular belief, the people who gave the most of themselves for others, and didn’t just look out for #1, were the top performers and the most successful. This was because they were the most networked—the best connected to other people! They could be trusted and depended upon. This is true in the secular work place as much as it is true in our personal relationships and our spiritual lives.