Here’s the counter-intuitive part. Grant’s research shows that if we look at the most successful people—the happiest, the most likely to be promoted, etc.—they are generally givers. If we look at the least successful people, they too often tend to be givers. Takers do moderately well, but over time, few people wish to deal with them. Matchers do okay too, but not as well as givers.
Grant explains why being a giver is a good strategy for success, as well as under what conditions giving is a failing strategy. Why do givers succeed? Simply put, people appreciate givers and giving often makes people want to give back. Since givers help others and often put others’ needs as a priority, givers often build (without deliberately trying, which is key) a network of support from others they’ve helped. Want to communicate most effectively? Ask more questions of others than you give answers to. Ask for advice and be aware of how you can help others. Want to bring out the best in people around you? Believe in them by recognizing and appreciating their strengths and contributions. Want to be successful? Don’t think of personal relations as zero-sum games (where others can only win to the degree you lose) but positive sum games (if you win, it doesn’t mean that I lose, but we can all win together).
It sounds obvious, right? But it isn’t. Even when we may be givers in our personal lives, we often become matchers or takers at work. Even if the success of a giving strategy seems intuitive, it is equally intuitive that getting ahead requires receiving as much as, or more than we get. We tend to spend most of our time working on things that will obviously benefit our self and so not spend more time assisting others. But Grant cites a growing body of research showing that giving—under the right conditions—really is the best overall strategy.
In B4T we need to understand the importance of being genuine givers. In Acts 20:34-35, Paul says:
You yourselves know that these hands of mine have supplied my own needs and the needs of my companions. In everything I did, I showed you that by this kind of hard work we must help the weak, remembering the words the Lord Jesus himself said: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.
Paul expresses an attitude characterized by generosity and the desire to bless and meet the needs of others. Through his tent-making, Paul not only supported himself but met the needs of his co-workers as well. Clearly, Paul applied “it is more blessed to give than to receive” in his own life and work. Paul not only ministered in the word but also in deeds. Making tents made Paul’s witness holistic as he ministered to the needs of others. Paul also worked because he wanted to help the weak—the people who could not return in kind the help given to them. Paul reinvested his wealth as a witness of God’s grace and goodness to those in need.
As a biblical principle, B4T workers must strive to have a holistic approach to our life and work. Doing unto others as we’d have them do unto us (Matthew 7:12) should be a core value of all B4T work. We need to strive to be givers. Our businesses should also be givers too. Giving—blessing others—is a holistic way that not only proclaims God’s good news in word but meets the social needs of the people through our deeds.
How are you demonstrating giving in your own life and work?
PATRICK LAI and his family have worked in SE Asia for over 37 years. His experience in doing business with Jesus has brought him to understand the meaning of work and worship in the marketplace. He started 14 businesses in four countries, six of which are still operating. Patrick and his wife, May, mentor and coach businesspeople working where there are few or no Christians. Check out Patrick’s latest book, Workship, now available in paperback and e-book.