Why We Donate

The short answer is because it’s easy.

Donation (i.e. giving to charities) is an easy way to help others without bothering much. Does that sound a bit too harsh on us who give regularly? Maybe. But there’s probably some truth to it. Many of us give because we want to do some good to the rest of the world and yet realize that we just don’t have what it takes to give just “too much.”

In this short Federalist article below, Huenink writes that donations are not what a poverty-ridden community needs in the long run. The modern humanity’s tendency to want a “quick fix” to everything makes the prospect of dropping off our no-longer-needed household items, clothes, and food to a donation box quite appealing. But in the long run, what a poor community needs is development, not charity:

If charity hurts the poor and increases poverty, why do we do it?

Because it’s easy to spend an hour at the grocery store buying food, or scrounging through the cupboards to find an old can of spinach to donate. There’s no planning. You don’t have to meet new people, or try to understand the complex web of relationships in a new place. You can even think you have all the answers to someone else’s problems.

It’s easy to push our duty to care for our neighbors onto the government, too. But bureaucrats can’t do development. They don’t have the flexibility to make decisions or the time to get to know the people they are helping. They can only plug someone into a program that distributes according a formula written in a legislative chamber or governor’s office far away. Relief is just easy.

Read in full here.

Learning from the Japanese

Japan is an interesting country. Some say the country has no future, and yet so many things about the country are so fascinating to so many of us that articles like this take us by surprise.

A small island nation that once used to lead the rest of the world by its top-notch technology, global companies, and, well, a plethora of cute stationery has long remained somewhat isolated from the rest of the world. Just think of how few Japanese students have been choosing to study abroad — maybe because of their high loyalty to their homeland or their lack of interest in international education. Regardless, the country recently received a NYTimes coverage when a traveling journalist noted highly of their culture of work.

This particular blurb cracks me up:

On another occasion, while waiting at a bus stop in the seaside city of Kobe, I found myself watching a group of five men who were drilling a hole. Or rather, one of them was; the other four were watching him. For the whole 30 minutes, that’s all they did. But they didn’t do it reluctantly, or while checking their smartphones, or gossiping, or anything. It was like a demonstration: ‘All other techniques for watching a guy dig a hole are incorrect. This is how you watch a guy digging a hole.’

A Painful Trade-Off?

How true, and yet how difficult!

At some point in our lives, I think we all realize we can’t do it all. I don’t think I am old yet, but I am starting to really get that now in my head. What do I choose when it’s absolutely not possible that I do it all — that is, if I have to choose?

The best way to build a brand that matters, a story that spreads, an impact that we remember, is to understand a simple but painful trade-off:

If you want to stand for something,

You can’t stand for everything.

“Anyone can be our customer and we will get you what you want…” is almost impossible to pull off. So is, “we are the cheapest and the most convenient and the best.”

H/T to Seth Godin.

Trump Wins

Last night was a pretty special night. All over the world, that is. I was sitting in an airport in Germany when this all happened, and I am pretty sure the entire world was watching what was about to happen, hoping for what they believed was the best.

As of sometime early this morning, Donald Trump is officially the President-elect of the United States of America to assume the office on January 20, 2017.

I don’t think I still know enough about Donald Trump to comment on the outcome of the election. I did not support him (even though I don’t get to vote here in this country), but now that he is the President-elect, I do wish him well and pray for him. Ultimately, as Abraham Lincoln put it at the beginning of his second administration, we, as a nation, are to strive to “achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace among ourselves and with all nations” (H/T to TGC). I am convinced that this can only happen when and if all — not just those elected to offices — strive and run together. Maybe, just maybe, then, it might not matter on the most fundamental level who gets to be the next president, as much as we fear.


Reblogged from Seth Godin’s blog:

The things that break all at once aren’t really a problem. You note that they’ve broken, and then you fix them.

The challenge is corrosion. Things that slowly fade, that eventually become a hassle–it takes effort and judgment to decide when it’s time to refurbish them.

And yes, the same thing is true for relationships, customer service and all the ‘soft’ stuff that matters so much.

One Day’s Wages: Walking the Talk

There is no doubt about how many wonderful NGOs have come about to helping to alleviate extreme poverty of the world. Love it, and I hope this trend continues it.

Here’s one I came across yesterday, One Day’s Wage. I particularly liked what I found on its website:

Walk the talk. Donate your day’s wages on your work campaign and let others know that you’re not asking them to do something you’re not willing to do.

More of us need to walk the talk that we deliver. Will you consider giving your one day’s wages to the extremely poor?


One of the Biggest Pitfalls of Our Generation

You are the best and the brightest. You have a great future ahead of you. You can do anything you want with your life. You are still young, what’s holding you back? Go for it. Seize the day.

Does that sound familiar? Wait, isn’t that what we just told our kids this morning?

Here’s some more:

Become an independent person who can do all things without turning to others for help (except, of course, when you absolutely have to), try to earn as much fame as you can now so that you might serve others later when life gives you the chance, never settle for anything less than you deserve, etc. — you get the idea.

We applaud self-sufficiency, high achievement, and ivory towers.

But, what if, somewhere along these roads, we are neglecting to teach ourselves (and our kids) of this generation something that’s intrinsically beautiful about the human life?

Love is a selfless thing. One of the biggest pitfalls of age is we’ve been fighting so long to prove we can be independent that we’ve not yet learned how to put others first. Love is a powerful thing. It’s not about an emotional high or how someone else makes us feel. Love is about being willing to serve, to put others ahead of ourselves and value them over ourselves. Love is not just speaking truth boldly; it’s caring enough to temper our words and actions. Love always does good for the one it loves.

H/T to Relevant Magazine.

Future of Journalism

We’ve all heard that the traditional journalism is in decline. Within just a few clicks of the Internet, we can always find enough to read–news,  articles, blogs, and forums, you name it. More often than not, we don’t pay a single dime to read them. And quite often, these are very good writings that engage the readers with one another.

In a recent episode of Last Week Tonight, the host John Oliver presented what I thought was a pretty convincing case against the public’s perception of the traditional journalism in decline. The core of his argument was that what is most popular isn’t necessary what is most important. I had to pause the video and ponder on that for a while — largely because I thought he had (probably inadvertently) touched on something that tells a lot about the condition of the human mind. The advocate of the free market argues that when left alone all will go well and eventually achieve the optimal state for all’s best. I argue, sometimes so, but definitely not always.

Two Ways to Do Church

In his post, Benjer McVeigh writes about two ways of doing church. The first is the approach that many of us are probably more familiar with (he calls it “the Short-Term Missions Approach”) — whereby we (the church planters) “every now and again find a way to connect with or serve our communities” only to “go back to business-as-usual.”

The second approach, which he calls is the “the Long-Term Missionary Approach,” is about taking the heart of the one who (1) discovers God’s calling on his life, (2) prepares to do the very thing, and (3) simply goes to carry it out. Plain and simple.

I resonate with Benjer in that I too think that, for some very strange reasons, many of us who are fired up to plant and multiply churches have stopped thinking along the lines of plain and simple. We are often reluctant to do the simple and plain things — and we are getting very good at complicating matters.

My hope is that we think and act plain and simple. And let us start expecting great things from God and attempting great things for God.

What if on Sunday mornings, we actually expected people from our communities who don’t yet know Jesus to show up? And not because they somehow heard about our church or drove by, but because they received a personal invitation from someone at our church?

Read in full here.