If you went to Sunday school when you were a kid, you probably heard about the importance of tithing (that means giving 10%) your time and talent to the Lord, as well as your treasures. The time and talent message was beyond me at age 5, but treasures I understood. Back then it was the pennies I saved to put in the collection plate; today it is my financial resources.
A couple of years ago my husband and I were presenters at a conference on the uses of financial resources. After our talk a participant asked, “What do you do when you are really stressed about money?”
“I give some away,” I told her, “because that helps me put things in perspective.” The check I write may be for $25 or $50 or even $100, but the amount isn’t important. What matters is that I have given away something I hadn’t planned on giving.
An August 2015 article by Teri Yablonsky Stat in the Chicago Tribune, titled “Generosity leads to healthier lives,” told me why writing a check to a charity reduces my anxiety about finances. It said, “Helping others doles out happiness chemicals, including dopamine, endorphins that block pain signals and oxytocin, known as the tranquility hormone.”
That explains the treasure part of the trilogy, but what about time and talent? Can giving time and talent have a positive impact on us, too? And, if so, how do you give time and talent? The one-word answer to the first question is “Yes” and to the second is “Volunteering.”
Let’s start with time because it is self-explanatory. Well, almost. How does a busy working mother do any volunteer work when she also has aging parents to care for? I didn’t have children in school then, but I was working full time and caring for my legally blind mother-in-law, all the while bemoaning the fact I didn’t have time to do the volunteer work I wanted to, when it finally hit me: I was volunteering my time to help her! No, God didn’t put a sign in the clouds that said, “This is what I am calling you to do right now, Judy!” but I might have gotten that message sooner if there had been a big neon sign overhead. Do you need a sign, too?
As for talent, well whatever yours is, there is a volunteer organization that could put it to good use and improve your health at the same time. To quote the Tribune article again, “Even as a way to manage chronic pain, volunteering holds great potential.”
Whether you refer to this trilogy as “Treasures, Time and Talents” or “Money, Time and Skills,” the effect of tithing them is the same: The world becomes a kinder place because of the way you have given of yourself, and you are less anxious and feel better, too.
By Judy Osgood