2. the condition of being full or complete
If you've read this blog for longer than five minutes, you'd see that I frequently spend time out of the US, most of the time in third world countries. This has a profound impact on a person when it comes to reflecting on personal wealth, giving to others and helping the poor.
This year, I have the pleasure of spending the holidays in the US and it is a drastic difference from the holidays in other countries. During Thanksgiving this year, we had 12 people and two dogs in our home for the annual Thanksgiving feast. During the prayer and talks afterwards, I noted that the amount of food on our table is more than most families in the world eat in one month.
Did you know that if you make more than $50,000 per year, you are in the top 1% of wealth in the world?
Did you know that each time we stop at a coffee shop and order a fancy drink, that same money could feed a family in a impoverished country for almost one week?
How many times have we seen a church spend millions of dollars to build a new building but then only send a few thousand dollars overseas? Furthermore, how many millions of dollars of vehicles are sitting in a large church parking lot every Sunday?
When we look at the issue from this context, it makes me feel uneasy in my stomach. Am I really doing all I can for the world or am I spending my time filling my own house with worthless trinkets?
My wife and I had a great talk this year and we both said that enough is enough. We've reached Plenitude. We don't need more stuff, a bigger house, or a nicer car. We'll keep funding the savings and retirement but also start giving more and more each year. Our goal is to be giving away 25% of our income in the next five years and keep increasing it.
On top of this, we are going to start serving more than giving. Throwing a few bucks in a bucket is easy. What is hard, is taking your time and actually going to where the needy people are and actually serving them face to face. This also has the biggest impact and life changing rewards.
Our children are a little apprehensive about the thought of less, as they are still young and want every new gadget, but our example is continually shaping their character. This year, my children are also starting to sponsor a child from one of the organizations that runs these programs. My child get to pick the child's age, gender and location in the world and then write letters and send money and pictures as the child grows with them. My hope is that this simple task will continue to get them looking outward instead of inward as they mature.
One of the best things we do at Christmas is sponsor a local child for the holidays. They have this program at most churches and shopping malls. You simply pick a name of a child and buy them presents for Christmas. The best programs actually allow you to deliver the presents directly to the child and family.
Loading your car with presents and having your kids go into a poor neighborhood and hand them out creates a lasting Legacy that I cannot explain. Each year we do this, our kids find creative ways to give more and more.
I challenge you this Christmas season to find plenitude in your life and to look more outwards than inwards. An iPad, new Android phone or chocolate diamonds may seem like a great gift, but nothing beats the smile and tears from a truly deserving family and the lasting impact this has on our children's hearts.
Esse Quam Videri