According to the American Heritage Dictionary the definition of philanthropy is 1. The effort or inclination to increase the well-being of mankind, as by charitable aid or donations. 2. Love of mankind in general. 3. An action or institution designed to promote human welfare.
As a child I had a dream. I guess one would say I wanted to be a philanthropist. I always thought maybe a sociologist was my calling. I had a keen interest in the well being of people, especially their behavior. My dream was to save the broken and less fortunate people from their demise....It was a desire from my heart and a well thought out desire. It was burned (and still is)deeply in my heart.
Most amazingly though is the journey that I would go on because of this desire. It is a journey leading me to discover what being a philanthropist really means. It is a journey of discovering LOVE from the inside out. It is a journey that has shown me how to die to myself and my selfish ambitions and choose to replace ambition with affection.
As I look at LOVE and the desire to love with abandon I have been allowing the idea of loving my neighbour as myself to resonate deep within my soul. WOW! Loving my neighbor....that means laying aside all prejudice and fervently praying that God would give me a heart for the whole...yes all no matter race, belief, language spoken, social status etc.
As I felt the tugging on my heart to pour out this idea of LOVE, loving with abandon and loving my neighbour as myself it became evident to me that this began to happen for me when I accepted that I could love because HE first loved me. I began to see more clearly that people longed to be loved. People want to have a place and want to belong. They want to feel accepted, wanted and LOVED. That is what I was wanting...I wanted unfailing LOVE.
Proverbs 19:22 says What a man desires is unfailing love, better to be poor than a liar. HMMMM...a liar, Yes I would lie to myself if I believed for a minute that my greatest need is anything but LOVE. You see nothing could fill my empty heart except LOVE.
Where do I see philanthropy in action and LOVE at work...
I see this in my husband and his relationship with his employees. You see my husband does not see himself as the "boss". He sees his employees as his team mates. They are there to work as a team in the best interest of the company. When we attend business dinners it is always awesome to hear what a philanthropist he is. The comments are always along the lines of "He is the best manager I have ever had", "I could not do this job if he was not such a great manager", "He takes care of his people"...and the end result because he does have a real heart and authentic love for his employees...a soaring business and a team of people who feel like they have an important place and are cared for and loved for who they are. They also feel valued for what they have to offer as an individual to the welfare of the whole!
I also have seen that need to be loved through the women in the Bible Study I lead/facilitate. There was a woman who after 34 years her marriage fell apart. Her health both mentally and physically was not well and she was questioning what love really was, she courageously attended the study and opened her heart to us. As another one of the women reached out to her in her broken state, she began to feel a love that was amazing and moving, real and authentic. This relationship has blossomed and it is amazing to see the power of LOVE when people feel accepted and wanted and cared for.
This was seen through my dad. He is not well due to an accident. My very dear friend was praying for him. He of course would not know that except her sister works with him and had mentioned to him that her sister was praying for him. He was moved in a way that was astounding. He said to me "she is praying for me...me. That is unbelievable". Yet because of this connection, a connection built on the love of people, and because she loves her neighbour as herself, my dad feels loved. He feels valued and important. He was moved in a way that only happens when someone has an authentic heart for mankind.
This was seen through a story one of the women in our Bible study shared. Her story was about the season in which she found herself purchasing more wedding gifts than she had ever imagined purchasing in a lifetime let alone a season. She knew these young people but was not sure why they would choose her as a guest. In questioning one of the young people regarding her invitation to his wedding the answer she received was simply that her and her husband over the years had extended a warm welcome in their home to teens. They loved these teens unconditionally just as they were and it was this acceptance that left a lasting impression on the lives that were touched in their home.
This was seen through a homeless youth. Not only was this teen homeless there were other issues such as addiction. He has attended outreach programs but has been non committal and often elusive. However the counselor at Youth for Christ built a friendship with him, making an effort to spend time with him and including this youth in his life. When this youth shares his story he tells that the friendship with this counselor was instrumental and had significant value to him. But more striking is that this youth clearly identifies three people who daily prayed for him. They truly loved him and were his friends and it was their prayers that made a difference.
I hear this need, this desire in the voices of the people in our community. A young, transient community that is growing at an astronomical rate. People feel lonely and disconnected. They long for relationships. They long to feel accepted and loved in their new community.
Are you a philanthropist, authentic in your love for people. Are you free of prejudice? Are you free to love your neighbour as yourself? Are you willing to extend your hand to people for the sake of LOVE.
People, when loved authentically are free to open their hearts to the ONE thing we all desire- a relationship based on LOVE.