One of the universal principles of stewardship is that I can hold on too tightly and lose everything or become richer by giving away what I have. The spirit of selfishness and hoarding trumps wisdom and blocks me from the subtle insights as to what and when I should let go. The tighter I grasp on to something, the faster it squeezes right through my fingers, and suddenly it’s gone. This principle is equally true for corporations, institutions, and individuals. Stewardship and benevolence just make good sense and good business.
By watering other people and reaching out to meet their needs, we actually water ourselves. What we hoard we lose; what we give away and plant in the lives of others returns to us in multiplied measure. And in the final analysis, all that is not given away is lost. Project C.U.R.E. is one of the best examples of how this principle works out every day in the real world.
In the business model and daily operations of Project C.U.R.E., we are dependent upon donations from other people and institutions. The thousands of lives that are saved through the efforts of Project C.U.R.E. are a direct result of the benevolence of others. We work expressly with medical manufacturers, medical wholesale businesses, and end users of medical goods. In a joint effort, we collect, process, inventory, warehouse, and distribute those medical supplies and equipment to needy hospitals and medical clinics around the world. We openly explain the benefits to them and their businesses of our working together. Then we ask them specifically to donate to us from their inventories. They believe in us and the cause we represent, and for more than twenty-five years they have generously given to us.
The medical industry is very unique in that it deals with extremely time-sensitive inventories. The majority of items we receive are marked with an expiration date. When we receive the donated items, we don’t have the option or latitude to take our jolly-good time to process and deliver them to the needy international recipients. We’re always under the time gun, and we must be good stewards of what we’re given in order to maximize the greatest amount of good for the greatest number of people.
It would be absolutely and criminally ridiculous for us to receive those donated goods, put them on our warehouse racks, and say, “Oh, look at us and see how very wealthy we are with all the millions of dollars’ worth of goods we have in our warehouses.” Those medical supplies and equipment were given to us to distribute to those with imperative need. We accept the responsibility of being trustworthy stewards of those goods. If we hoard the things we’re given, and we simply sit on those valuable gifts until the expiration dates slip past, we’re accountable for breeching our fiduciary responsibilities.
It isn’t a whole lot different when it comes to the valuable inventories of our personal lives that we’ve so generously received. Like the time-sensitive medical inventories in Project C.U.R.E.’s warehouses, our personal talents and possessions are time sensitive. All of our clocks are ticking—just in case you hadn’t noticed. Your personal inventories are overflowing, even if you don’t feel so wealthy today.
What I hoard I lose. All that is not given away is lost. What I grasp too tightly, I squeeze right through my fingers, and it’s gone. But what I give away and plant in the lives of others returns to me in multiplied measure.
As much as Project C.U.R.E. gives away each year, every time I walk through our warehouses, I see more there than before. By watering other people and reaching out to meet their needs, we actually water ourselves. We can hold on too tightly and lose everything or give away what we have and become richer in the things that matter most in this life—richer in relationships; richer in quality of life; richer in personal expression, experience, and maturity; richer in wisdom; richer in true wealth, which transcends money.
In the classic devotional My Utmost for His Highest, Oswald Chambers reminds us,
Whenever you get a blessing from God, give it back to Him as a love-gift. Take time to meditate before God and offer the blessing back to Him in a deliberate act of worship. If you hoard a thing for yourself, it will turn into spiritual dry rot, as the manna did when it was hoarded (see Exodus 16:20). God will never allow you to keep a spiritual blessing completely for yourself. It must be given back to Him so that He can make it a blessing to others.