Posted by: janpierce | September 26, 2012

Keeping it Simple

file000453200083  When I was little our family watched a television show called The Millionaire. J. Bairsford Tipton ( or some fancy name like that) went around in a black tophat and handed out checks for a million dollars. Then the show followed the storyline of the ways that money changed lives. It was fun to pretend when I was nine or ten–what would I do with a million dollars?

Fast forward to today’s lottery system. We all speculate as we drive by the billboards on the freeway: “What would we do with all that money?” and “Wow, that would solve one of our problems.” We watch for the winners of the lottery drawings to come forth to collect their winnings and we get a kick out of imagining how we’d handle such large sums.

Today one of the best reality shows on television is The Secret Millionaire. In this one, rich people take a week out of their busy lives to live down and dirty in some shabby part of a big city. They search out organizations and individuals doing volunteer work amongst the poor. They find people tutoring potential dropouts, feeding the hungry, or recycling clothing to the needy. They find the aging boxer who trains local youth to keep them off the streets. And then, after pretending to volunteer for a few days, the rich man or woman hands out checks to these organizations and everyone is happy. It’s fun to see a rich person being generous and it’s satisfying to see the small group of volunteers rejoice at the infusion of resources into their work.

But the people I think about most on this show are not the successful businesspersons. At the end of the week they go back to their busy upscale lives. They’ve done a good thing, but now it’s finished. The people I remember best are the volunteers who stay and work in their communities.

There are two elderly black women who began a feeding program in the basement of a church many years ago. Now they’re both a little frail, but they still show up regularly to cook and serve the people of their neighborhood. They fry chicken and mash potatoes and bake pies. They know how to do that. They have huge smiles for all and give out hugs to anyone who will take one. They probably live on a fixed income, but they give what they have to give– their time and their love–the work of their hands. I want to be like them.

Money is nice. Money is necessary, but most of us don’t have huge quantities of it. Let’s keep it simple. What do we have? Time? Expertise? Smiles? Hugs? Can we share?

Yes, we can.



  1. And I have found it to be true that you don’t have to give a lot of money to make a difference in other peoples’ lives, and to receive back much joy. A little at a time does it.

    • That’s especially true in India where ten dollars can do a lot. But I think you’re right even here at home. It’s really the caring behind the gift. I so appreciate the small donations we get for Teams India–and they’re often from people who don’t have a lot of money, just a lot of heart.

      • And if we give from the heart, as the Bible says, joyfully, I believe God will bless that. He can cause great things to come of that. The amount of giving isn’t the issue. I’m thinking of the loaves and fishes miracles.

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