Are you a giver? I don’t mean someone who gives money to his or her church or to charity. That is not what I mean by giver. I mean someone who has this built in program that causes him or her to give of themselves in whatever way possible for the well-being of someone else. We will talk more about the definition of a giver later. If you are really a giver then you probably experience some of the same feelings, thoughts, and problems that the giver experience. To be honest about the whole thing, you may be wondering how you can "get off of this ride."
Therefore, I thought it would be a good thing to share my feelings and the information that I have obtained concerning those who are labeled as givers. I consider myself a giver so I fall into the subject of this discussion very nicely. I think that this discussion will be of use to others that are givers as well. Not everything that I say is personal to me. Some of the things I will share with you originate from others that I have talked to and observed. However, most of what I am going to discuss here comes from evaluating my own life and trying to understand why the way things are and what to do about it. At the very least I hope to solve some of my own problems by expressing the feelings that I have now.
The true giver is faced with many problems regularly. Our nature fuels certain non-constructive feelings that when acted upon contradicts who we are and therefore keeps us giving and then hurting. The cycle continues until a way out is discovered. Giving doesn’t have to result in pain and the response to that pain shouldn’t bring on ill feelings about who we are or what we should do as givers. I hope that the things I share in this discussion will help givers to deal with their God-given nature and help others understand givers.
The Giver Defined
What is a giver? A giver is someone who has a nature to help others. This is not a per-incident thing, rather a lifestyle. The giver takes it upon himself or herself to do al he or she can for someone who is in need or to just help someone out. So a giver is someone who gives of himself or herself for the benefit of someone else. Also, this giving attitude is the nature of the person and not necessarily just an attitude or a disposition. The giving nature of these people is part of their make-up or personality and cannot be easily suppressed.
Givers are many times on the front line. They are the first to be attacked because they stick their necks out for others. There are all types of givers. There are givers in certain areas and there are givers by nature. Givers in certain areas are those people who operate in a certain realm or activity. For example a pastor may be a great giver to his congregation but outside of the church that giving attitude may not be found. I am particularly dealing with the intrinsic giver as a function of a personality and not a position or duty. I am going to discuss a person that is wired to be a giver in all areas of life that is accessible by the giver. If you need money and the giver has some to give you then he or she will give it to you. If you need a job then the giver will go behind the scenes and try to get you one. Your need is the giver’s need. So let’s get started.
The Activities of a Giver
What does a giver do? Gives! Your need is our need. That is a very good way to put what happens in the mind of a giver. Think of the greatest giver of all—God. Our need became his need to provide (according to his will of course). We needed to be delivered from our sins and God sent Jesus Christ. He didn’t have to do that. However, his love for us caused him to be moved into action by that love to save us from our sins. When I hear that someone has a need then my first response is if I can get it for him or her. Of course, that doesn’t mean that I always do. Proverbs teach us that we should do good if it is within our power to do so.
Now I manage my giving nature. I don’t just take it upon myself to give and give and give some more. Sometimes I simply say no or nothing at all (some people throw hints wanting you to volunteer assistance). It is not my responsibility to solve the financial dilemma of people. I can offer my assistance as far as managing money or simply to pray or give my input to a situation. I don’t have to take it upon myself to secure the funds for this person. You may think that such is strange. Well if you are thinking that then you are either not a giver by nature or you have learned the fine art of giving management a long time ago—as I have now.
So a giver provides for the needs of the people by the direction of their conscience, which is directed by God or programmed by God. A giver simply gives of himself or herself to help those around him or her.
Around the middle to late 1980’s I remember thinking that I might be cursed. I always seemed to want to help people. It wasn’t actually something I wanted to do; it was more something that I naturally did or was wired to do. I was acting out my own nature. Still I thought I was cursed or something or that I really had a serious problem at the very least. I remember talking to my pastor about this and she said that I should give pencils instead of magic markers. What does that mean I wondered. She was simply trying to teach me how to manage my giving spirit. Sometimes, we have to just back off, do less then we want to do, or sometimes we do nothing at all. I later came to realize that it is not my job to be the provider for people. God is the provider and I’m, as well as other givers, are simply vessels that God uses to accomplish his will on Earth.
So what is the trap? The trap is that as you try to back off, the more you feel that you have wronged someone or not done what you are supposed to do. Sometimes, no is the proper answer but you still want to say yes because you are wired to help. The more you try to hold back your help, the more you feel that you should help. You are trapped in your own cycle of helpfulness. The more you help, the more you begin to feel used and abused because there is usually no one around when you, the giver, needs help. We will talk more about this later.
So why do givers give so much? Again, as I said, the giver is wired to give. For example, some people are wired to be administrators, thinkers, and some are wired to help other people. There is no real motive. The reason for the giving attitude or nature is intrinsic. It is just the way we are. I don’t help people because I want something in return. I help people because that is just the way I am. Besides, I simply love people. I care about the welfare of others. Again, God just wired me that way as well as other givers. So again there is no motive for giving.
This non-motive became a major challenge in the church organization. We are taught in church that we should tithe in order to be blessed of God or because God commanded us to tithe. A problem arose because of these teachings besides the fact that they are incorrect according to scripture. What if you want to give to your church because you really appreciate your pastor and you really just want to help others by giving to your church so that the church will have more financial resources for the benefit of others? Now what happens if you realize that your church is not concerned about the welfare of others? What if your pastor is only concerned about having so many members, having a luxurious building, etc. What if the placement of obligation to gives kills the fact that you just want to give? In other words, the church’s rules and demands for tithing take the joy you have out of giving to your church.
A leech is an animal that attaches itself to another animal (the host) and systematically drinks its blood with its large suction-like mouth. They take unconditionally from their host giving nothing in return. I find the same type of behavior with some people. There will always be those special people that you can count on and trust. However, there will be some people that the giver encounters that are leeches. I am not saying this to be derogatory. It is just a description based on my past experiences with people.
Have you ever given a cat food at one time? Anyone who has done this knows that the cat will return to you from then on. If you give them more food then you might as well conclude that you have an unofficial pet because that cat will camp at your doorstep and expect food from you. People are just like that cat. If you help them then they will begin to expect your help. You try to help people around you and just like that cat, they will keep coming back. I guess in some ways it is logical that such would happen though. However, it becomes very annoying because you soon realize that when you need help or just a shoulder to lean on, you find that no one is around. To make matters worse, even in your times of despair or just bad days, people will still expect you to perform your giving duties with no concern for your well-being. Sometimes the giver wants to be a leech. However, there is usually no one around to grab a hold on. The giver is typically left alone when "everyone’s stomach is filled." It’s not so much that so many people want you to help them because after all the giver gets fulfillment from that (he or she is wired that way). The problem arises when you need someone for support and there is no one around. They have sucked you dry and left you to fend for yourself until you are restored and they can latch on again.
The same thing applies to our relationship with God. People tend to consider God when they need something. We are even taught by the word of faith movement to expect God to give you great wealth, meet your needs, bless you, blah, blah, blah. There is no emphasis on God for who he is only for what he can do for us. Remember that God is the greatest giver of all and we can sometimes be the great leeches.
What if you are friends with someone that always seems to take from you? You will tolerate this up to a point. After a while you will begin to get annoyed by your friend’s relationship with you being defined by what you can do for or give to him or her. I have had this happen to me a long time ago and it struck me like a truck. The feeling that I had and what the person told me will always ring in my ears. I was "friends" with a boy while I was in grade school (about the 5th or 6th grade). This boy recently moved into the neighborhood and he lived right around the corner from me. He said that he would give me a watch, which I really wanted. Well we played together as kids do and I frequently asked him about the watch. One day he said to me that I only seemed to be friends with him only because of the watch or something like that. He was right! We weren’t friends because the relationship grew into a friendship. We spent time together because I wanted that watch. The relationship didn’t last.
If you become a burden to your "friend" then your "friend" may begin to avoid you and your relationship may gradually end. This is due to the lop-sided nature of the relationship. If one person is a leech and the other person the giver then problems will come eventually. It is best to be sensitive to your needs as well as the needs of your friend. Try not to be a consistent burden to your friend and don’t allow your friend to be a burden to you. Communication is the key.
The same thing applies to marriages. If your spouse is perceived as a consistent taker (leech) then you will tend to compensate in order to avoid the pain introduced by the leeching behavior of your spouse and by pursuing those things that make you happy. Sooner or later your spouse will be perceived as a source of pain.
A lop-sided relationship in a marriage can have very serious consequences. If a husband does not meet the needs of the wife then she may begin to seek happiness outside of the home and outside of her marriage. Likewise, if the wife becomes a nag, doesn’t meet his needs, or simply isn’t interested in what he is about then he too may look outside of the home and marriage for happiness. I can’t go too much into a discussion about this topic because it is well beyond the scope of this article. Suffice it for me to say based on my research of marriage that infidelity and neglect in a marriage relationship is usually associated with needs not being met (not just sexual needs).
If one spouse becomes a leech to the other spouse, then the leeched spouse (the host) may try to get away from being sucked dry by the leeching spouse, and he or she may try to find happiness outside of the marriage relationship. At the very least, the host will be miserable the rest of his or her life or until the source of his misery dies (I have to be blunt). This doesn’t mean that cheating is in order. However, it does mean that the primary form of enjoyment, satisfaction, pleasure, and happiness will not include the spouse. This can very well lead to infidelity. See my study on "A Christian Marriage" for more information about this.
It is important that a married couple truly be together. This helps to prevent the leeching process and the feeling of use and abuse by the leeched spouse. Togetherness means that the husband and the wife share life together. They are truly one. They meet each other’s needs and each is sensitive to the burdens, feelings, and desires of the other. However, this doesn’t happen automatically. It takes a lot of work.
More times then not, I feel as though I am alone. Why? Because, like I said already, when I need a shoulder to rest on I find that everyone has gone his or her merry way (except for those very few reliable folk in my life). Sometimes you feel like calling in favors but remember that I said that wasn’t the motive of the giving activities in the first place. Sometimes we just want someone to look after us or come to our rescue. Sure you can say we can depend on God. However, God uses people to help others just as the giver has helped others. Most of the time there is no one who looks at the welfare of the giver. We are therefore left alone to fend for ourselves. This again illustrates the cycle that we suffer. Not giving is not an option because the nature of the giver is to give. Giving causes pain because we tend to feel like a used rag or alone in the whole world.
There will be those who will always be there for you. This brings to mind that there are specific categories of givers. For example, parents tend to be givers when it comes to their children, as my parents are. Spouses tend to be givers to their mates. However, they aren’t this way by nature or globally to all people as natural givers are.
The loneliness is fueled by the activities of the leeches. The giver sometimes wants to be left alone to find happiness someplace somehow. The giver learns not to expect anything from anyone so when offers come, we are left not knowing what to do. We tend to learn to do things for ourselves because there is usually no one around to help us or to be there for us. At the same time another paradox arises. I said earlier that there would always be those people that will be willing to help you and have proved themselves faithful and dependable to you in the past. However, since you know the acts of the leech, you tend not to want to be a leech yourself and burden those dependable people that you know. Therefore, help may be available to you but you don’t always access it in order to not be a burden. It’s a vicious cycle I know.
Loneliness usually prevails. The pursuit of happiness seems never ending and most of the time unattainable. It seems so difficult to take time out for my own enjoyment and myself. There is always someone standing by wanting me to do something for him or her or impose on me (not giving me rest). You may find that this phenomenon even SEEMS to happen in your own home. Where can we escape? Sometimes the bliss of not being on the Earth is comforting—not that I am saying that death is looked upon favorably. What does happen is that you begin to dream of being someplace away from everyone where you don’t have to do anything but enjoy yourself or at the very least relax. There is that never-ending quest for happiness and pleasure.
There are some major consequences when any person cannot seem to find happiness or pleasure. Strange things start to happen in the mind of those who pursue happiness for himself or herself. I call them strange because the mind begins to look for ANY path that it thinks will bring happiness. Please understand that this doesn’t mean that the giver actually pursues these things. I only mean that the mind in its vast database will come up with anything that may provide some happiness. The mind constantly probes to find a way out. These brainstorms may include any of the following:
- Neglecting things that you need to do in lieu of things that you want to do.
- Neglecting those around you to "selfishly" pursue your own desires
- Spend money without considering your budget or spending plans
- Buying things that you think will make you happy regardless of the cost
- Sexual fantasies and temptations
- Excessive work (on the things that you enjoy)
- Eating excessively
Let’s talk a little about these. Until you, the giver, reach the level of "enlightenment" you may experience some negative effects of your activities. In particular, these negative effects seem to effect your emotions more than anything else. There will come a day when you want someone to be there for you and you will find that people are always too busy. You will think back on all of the times that you helped people yet there is no one for you. What was it all worth? Why did you bother to help all of those people? You bothered simply because you are wired that way. Now you want some type of courtesy or reciprocation. You want someone to be there for you. You want a shoulder to lean on or someone to confide in. Alas, there is no one. Again you find yourself alone fending for yourself while at the same time you are in a never-ending cycle of doing your part to fend for others—the same people that aren’t there for you. Again, please remember that there will always be a couple of folk that have proven themselves faithful to you and will be willing to help. However, as I said before, in an attempt to not be a burden, you will most likely decline their help. Again this is a viscous cycle.
You eventually get tired of it all. "To hell with them" you proclaim! I’m not doing anything for anyone. Within minutes your heart goes out to someone that needs help and you help him or her continuing to put fuel on your pain. Your pain grows each day and you constantly look for a way out. All you want is enjoyment as well. Typically you would like to have some relief from the responsibilities that seem to be built into you. You can’t stop helping people because you love them too much and besides, it is the way you are. You begin to look for ways to enjoy yourself and only small windows of pleasure present themselves. As your quest for relief increases your pursuit for ways to obtain that relief and pleasure also increases. Now the danger is on the horizon.
What makes you happy? What gives you pleasure in life? What do you enjoy doing? Here again is that viscous cycle. Among the things you enjoy doing is helping people—the very thing that is giving you pain. Actually, when you think about it, it’s not helping people that give you pain. It is the fact that you don’t seem to get help when you need it and you feel as though you should get help after all that you have done for others. You feel cheated, used and abused. You want to be happy! Any ray of happiness may be pursued. These rays may be talking to a particular person that seems to comfort you and seems to listen and care about you without any demands on you. This person makes you happy.
You may find that shopping makes you happy and you buy all types of things. Of course this may wreak havoc on your budget but you do it anyway because it provides pleasure to you that is so hard to find. You may enjoy working around the house so you do that a whole lot at the expense of spending time with your spouse or children, who may contribute to your pain in the first place. You have found the solution! Help as many people as you desire but do all you can to make yourself happy! That’s it! Well, not exactly because this procedure can cause other problems especially in relationships.
Our constitution declares that it is the right of any United States Citizen to have life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. To the giver, this is very much amplified before enlightenment. Pursuing happiness without consideration of the consequences can be devastating to say the least. Let me be straight up by saying that it can destroy marriages, relationships, families, businesses, and friendships. Unconditionally pursuing happiness is selfish. A husband may pursue happiness at the expense of his wife by doing those things that make him happy, assuming the wife is not one of them in general. The same applies from the wife’s perspective. She may pursue happiness apart from her husband because he is not a source of happiness for her in general.
One could say that a giver is happy when he or she is giving. This is true, however, there are other items that should be considered. We must consider the feelings and perception of the giver. It is quite easy for the giver to feel used when he or she finds no solace for his or her mind. The giver lives a life of serving others but this can become a burden if serving others causes pain. Pain from someone close to you tends to hurt severely. Why is this so? The giver tends to expect help, comfort, or just an ear when he or she is in low spirits let’s say. When this help isn’t realized and those closest to the giver continues in "leeching" then the giver begins to feel used, abused, and forsaken. Of course there is the typical "but God is always with you and will never forsake you" response. It’s not so much that the giver gets little help in times of need from other people. What really is troubling to the giver’s spirit is that those that are close are rarely available (except for those very few faithful that are always by your side).
It is quite natural or should I say normal for a human being to seek happiness. It is therefore normal for a giver to seek out those things that will comfort him or her in times of need. This is where trouble can occur if one is not careful as I said previously. This pursuit for relief or happiness may lead down a road that shouldn’t be traveled. Since I have been doing a lot of research on marriage, I will use it as an illustration. Let’s suppose that the wife does not provide the basic needs of the husband (man). The husband, in search of happiness, pleasure, or just simply getting his needs met, may end up in the arms of another woman or in the frequent company of his pals on the bowling league or something like that. His pursuit for happiness will isolate him from his wife. Why? Because to him, she has not been meeting his needs or desires. The same applies to a wife that is not getting her needs met by the husband. She may begin to hang out with her girl friends instead of communing with her husband.
Now let’s look at this from a more positive angle. Suppose the husband or the wife is pleasing to each other and meeting each other’s needs and desires in general. Then the happiness that a married giver seeks can come from his or her spouse. He or she can have the comfort and reassurance that would be so helpful in keeping balance between the giving and selfish dispositions. So a giver that is married has a real serious concern if he or she doesn’t feel fulfilled or begins to feel used and abused along with those feeling being associated with his or her spouse. In other words, the spouse is perceived as part of the problem and will be a source of pain for the giver, which will cause the giver to avoid the spouse in his or her pursuit for happiness or simply relief. If the spouse is not construed as the source of pain then the giver will also reach out to his or her spouse in his or her pursuit for happiness. However, I must add that if the spouse does not appear to be a source for happiness, relief, or fulfillment, then here again the spouse will be avoided.
The plight of the giver is a major concern if you are indeed a giver. You are constantly trying to be fulfilled yourself (like any other human being) while at the same time acting out the way you are—a giver. I have discovered that balance is the principle thing. Paul said that the spirit of the prophet is subject to the prophet. I believe the same thing applies here. The spirit of the giver is subject to the giver. A car is wired (made) to transport. However, a car doesn’t constantly transport people. There has to be time for refueling, maintenance, cleaning, etc. So there is a balance that is required between driving and care. The giver has to find the balance between giving and maintaining self.
It is very important that the giver learns how to take care of himself or herself. If this isn’t done then trouble might come and cause a great fall. If there is always that sense of wanting to be happy without any real hope of obtaining it then relationships may be damaged, people might get hurt, or you may self-destruct. The Bible says that hope deferred makes the heart sick. You may fall for anything in order to be happy if the hope of happiness and fulfillment seems unobtainable or always before you.
I think that I have been enlightened after all of the searching, pain, confusion, anger, and depression. At least I am more enlightened then I was before. Balance yourself! There is a time and place for everything under the sun. Sometimes you may not be able to help. Sometimes you may not be available to help. Sometimes you may just not want to help. Though your system constantly reaches out to people to help them, you may on occasion say "no" or "not now." You can’t be available to others if you are in the process of taking care of yourself.
I have learned another thing that has helped me a great deal. Just enjoy who you are and what you do when you do it, though you may have to do things that you don’t enjoy sometimes like eating your vegetables. However, enjoy your life, love the people that God has given you to care for. Love yourself as well because you can’t effectively love others if you don’t love yourself. Enjoy your life within the realm of God’s Kingdom. Don’t allow your gift to be a curse to you. Manage your own spirit of giving and live the good life that God has for you. Paul said that he learned to be content in any situation. That state is a gift from God and something that is very necessary to obtain balance. Be content at all times. Be content when you can help and when you can’t. You are not the savior of people. You, the giver, are a vessel that God uses to implement his will on the earth.
Sometimes you may find that you have to be frank or even mean with people sometimes. Sometimes you may find that you will have to refuse to do what others demand of you. Sometimes you will decide to swim upstream instead of downstream with everyone else. Why? Because swimming upstream just makes you feel good or make you happy. If they don’t like it then so what! Enjoy the life that God gives you and love the people around you without allowing them to be a burden and source of pain.
This applies to family and friends though it may be real tough in these cases. Don’t allow your spouse to become a burden. Do what you can to protect yourself from yourself because remember what I said about the mind constantly probing for happiness. Don’t allow your spouse to drive you to depression and perhaps even infidelity. Don’t let your family drive you away because your family is probably the most precious gift that you have.
The plight of the giver is that you constantly give with little in return, which begins to make you feel used and abused and unhappy. The plight of the giver is that the very action that fulfills us is a prime cause of the thing that gives us pain. The plight of the giver is learning how to balance the gift of giving with the responsibility of giving. The plight of the giver is a learning curve until the Holy Spirit enlightens you to its proper use and management. So be yourself and take care of yourself as you carry out your calling to care for others. Amen.