The presents are unwrapped, the needles are falling off the tree, and all that’s left is the dismantling of lights, fake garland, and front door wreaths. Christmas has come to an end. All that remains is the left overs in the refrigerator that await your return for the next week and the sounds of new gadgets that fill the air.
Your last big decision you make for the year is next year’s resolution. For most, self improvement is at the top of the list whether it’s better health, greater wealth or the most elusive creature of them all, happiness.
It’s the most elusive because the journey to find happiness starts with a basic concept of what you believe will make you happy. What makes one person happy doesn’t necessarily make another happy. There is however one behavior that is the great equalizer—generosity.
Research shows that living a lifestyle of generosity can make you healthier, lower stress levels, improve relationships, extend life, and make you happier. You could say that spending time and money on others is like investing in your own health. In other words, the best form of self improvement is living a lifestyle that improves the lives of others.
Of course our greatest example is Jesus himself. Scripture reveals that his entire life was spent giving to others. Guidance, healing, wisdom, food, and ultimately his life were freely given. He set the example that we should follow.
3 Easy Ways to be More Generous in the New Year:
1. Volunteer with a "Plug-n-Play" Organization
This one is super easy. Organizations like Habitat for Humanity, Boys and Girls Club of America and The Salvation Army already have programs in place to help those in need. One of my favorites is Samaritan’s Purse. If a major weather disaster happens, Samaritans will be there. What all these organizations, and others like them, need to help others is people like you to give their resources and volunteer their time. Find an organization that you can “plug and play” and get involved!
2. Adopt a Local Family
Whether it’s a widow, a single mom/dad, or a family that unexpectedly fell on hard times, we are surrounded by those who are in need. Instead of talking about them to others or trying to figure out why they are in their particular situation, extend a hand and help. Don’t make it a big deal. Find out if they have a critical need and take care of it. If possible, try to remain anonymous. This will keep the focus on the gift and not the giver.
3. Mentor a Child of a Single Mom
I promise there are kids in your church or neighborhood that are missing the presence of a positive male figure in their lives. Stats tell us that 42% of kids will go to bed tonight without the biological dad in the home. That saddens me and it should sadden you. Make a commitment to reach out to those kids and become a much needed role model.
There are a plethora of other ways to be generous. The point is to begin the New Year with more than a resolution to be generous, but a response to the generosity Jesus has shown us by being generous to those within our reach.
Fear Not: Fight Well
JT McCraw is the men’s pastor at Bethel World Outreach in Brentwood, TN and the founder of the BE MEN Movement, where he provides oversight for this multi-ethnic, multi-site men’s ministry, focusing on engaging and equipping men to serve Christ. Presently they have locations in Tennessee, Texas, Florida, Ohio, Louisiana, Alabama and Arizona. JT lives in Franklin, TN with his wife of twenty-four years and their five children. You can follow JT on Twitter @.