Afraid to Ask? Give People Joy, Let them Give
I know you will be so happy to hear that I have just washed, ironed, and starched the last of my drawer full of British lace hankies. Now that “Downton Abbey” is no longer, I needed them to get through my mourning period. But what a glorious ending. Finally, Edith smiled! Thomas got his dream job! Daisy temporarily stopped whining! All is right with the world. Goody gumdrops, how will I spend my Sunday evenings? Sorry, I must reach for one of those hankies at the thought.
But, once again, I digress. Because what I do want to go on about is how one can be surprised by gratitude.
Our local community theater is currently producing “The Diary of Anne Frank.” We knew that it would be a good opportunity to do some additional education around Anne’s life and the horrors of the holocaust. So we decided, at considerable expense, to bring in an exhibit from the Anne Frank Center USA located in New York City.
We wrote grants and sought sponsors – and had a pretty good response. At the last minute we thought of a local attorney who we believed might be interested in the project. A phone call was made – she was out of town and wouldn’t be back until after the show was in production. Would we please send a brief proposal that could be forwarded to her? Within 24 hours we had our answer, “Yes” – she would be delighted to help.
Fast-forward two weeks later. This same attorney was speaking in my Sunday School class about estate planning. I was excited to see her and bolted up after class to say “thank you” for her sponsorship of the show. But before I could get a word out, she said to me, “Thank you so much for asking me to help with the show. It means so much to me and it’s so important.”
We then proceeded to host our own “thank you” fest – “Oh! Well thank you for giving!” To which she replied, “No, thank you for the opportunity!” “No, thank YOU!” And it went on from there.
Ann Voskamp writes in One Thousand Gifts:
“The only real prayers are the ones mouthed with thankful lips. Because gratitude ushers into the other side of prayer, into the heart of the God-love, and all power to change the world, me, resides here in His love” (emphasis added).
Who are we to steal someone’s opportunity for joy, for gratitude because we are afraid that they might be offended? Perhaps – instead of random asks, you should be seeking out those people who have an open heart and an openness to surprising God-opportunities. And maybe, just maybe – knowing that you can help usher someone “into the heart of the God-love,” knowing that you can fill that person with happiness, and help him or her change the world – well maybe then you’ll less afraid to give them the opportunity to give.
Cesie Delve Scheuermann is a consultant in stewardship, development, and grant writing. Over the past decade, while working as a volunteer and part-time consultant, she helped raise over $2.5 million dollars for numerous non-profit organizations. Her favorite Dowager Countess quotes: “Stop whining and find something to do” and “I wonder your halo doesn’t grow heavy, it must be like wearing a tiara round the clock.” Oh, how she'll be missed. She served as the Oregon-Idaho Annual Conference Lay Leader from 2008-2012. Her position with the Conference is funded through a generous grant from the Collins Foundation; she is available to consult with churches in Oregon and Idaho. You can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Cesie Delve Scheuermann is consultant in grant writing and stewardship/development working with the Conference. From 2008-12 she was the Conference Lay Leader for the Oregon-Idaho Annual Conference.