“Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.”
–2 Cor. 9:7
There seem to be some people that are more comfortable giving than others. Some personalities struggle every time. And though they give fairly regularly, they feel guilty that they’re not more cheerful about it.
Is it possible to just become a more cheerful giver? If so, what does it look like? How do we do it?
Here are three things to consider as you’re thinking about becoming a cheerful giver:
1. Remember, we all have different personalities
Because we’re all different and view the world in different ways, what it looks like to be a cheerful giver will be different for everyone.
Think about it in regards to the Myers-Briggs personality types. Developed from the typological theories of Carl Jung at the beginning of the 20th century, the Myers-Briggs has become one of the most popular personality type indicators.
If you’ve never tested your personality, you can find a quick free version online. The actual test involves an investment of time (and usually money).
When it comes to finances, financial adviser Ray Linder breaks down personalities this way:
The Protectors: ESTJ, ESFJ, ISFJ, ISTJ
These people tend to be thoughtful, careful, and conservative.
The Planners: ENTJ, ENTP, INTJ, INTP
These are the creative problem solvers
The Pleasers: ENFJ, ENFP, INFJ, INFP
These people tend to be more relational, idealistic, and charitable.
The Players: ESTP, ESFP, ISTP, ISFP
These people tend towards being fun loving free spirits.
When you think of how we spend money as an extension of our personality, you can see that being a “cheerful giver” is going to look different for everyone.
The Players group tends to be optimistic and a bit impulsive. When we think about cheerful giving, we usually think of the carefree ease in which they give money—when they have it. But should that be the goal? They’re just as apt to cheerfully drop a couple hundred dollars on the lottery.
The Protectors group plans for the future and maps out every penny they spend. It’s part of the way they are wired. When it comes to giving, the chances are a lot better that they’re going to be happy about it if it’s part of their budget, but they’re going to struggle if they’re asked to respond to a spontaneous need.
My group, the Pleasers, pride ourselves on charity. We see money as an extension of our relationship with the world, and we try to be as giving as possible….and because of that, we’re the easiest group on the planet to take advantage of. No one should be jealous about how happy I am to give money to a crook.
Planners, like Protectors, pay close attention to their money, but they don’t tend to be hoarders. They’re strategic planners and want to see their money grow. If they struggle with giving, it’s because they’re hyper-analyzers, and they want to make sure their money is going where it is going to be put to the best use. This tendency towards analysis-paralysis can make the process of giving less fun than it should be.
The point is, you can’t be judging how happy you are about giving by looking at others. What you should be working at is becoming a more cheerful giver—however that looks for you.
2. If you’re not cheerful about it, give anyway
Obviously giving out of compulsion or obligation isn’t the ideal, and no one should give under duress. But should you give when you don’t feel like it? Of course! An important part of learning to be cheerful giver is learning to give—and learning that you’re not actually harmed by giving.
None of us should be able to say, “God only wants me to give when I feel cheerful about it.” The truth is that he also wants us to be obedient. The promise is that our emotions and passions will follow our resources, or as Jesus says, “Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.”
3. Get your finances in order
Part of the giving challenge is that many of us have no idea where our money is. A Gallup poll says that two-thirds of Americans don’t have a budget to track their expenditures. When I married my wife, she was incredulous that I would have to check my available balance before withdrawing any money from my account. Why? Because I had no idea what I had at any given time.
She put a stop to that pretty fast.
It’s hard to be a cheerful giver if your finances are a constant moving target. Having a budget frees you up to have money set aside for giving, or to make sacrifices in specific areas in order to give more. If you don’t have a budget set up, start one now. I know that, from the outside, it feels like a restriction, but the truth is that life within a budget is a lot more liberating than trying to live without one….seriously.
Learning to Give Joyously
Becoming someone who is happy to give isn’t difficult. Not many people are just opposed to being charitable. Most of it is simply a case of removing the obstacles that make it hard to have the right attitude about giving.
As we’ve seen, some of that is simply changing our expectations, giving when we don’t feel like it, and taking the anxiety out of generosity. Once you start making some of those changes, you’ll be surprised at how much easier—and enjoyable—it is to share your resources.
Most of us learn best by seeing examples of the right thing being done by people just like us. That’s why we designed the free ebook, Start With Generosity. In it, you’ll hear real-life stories of people like you seeking God to become more generous ,and watching miracles happen right before their eyes. Click here to download your free copy today.