The first step in developing a preparedness + provision outlook is to be in Christ. Without Him we can do nothing, even if we’re really awesome people and do lots of awesome things. A Christian’s outlook differs from the typical outlook of the natural world.
The world approaches giving in ways that look something like this:
When you have a lot, give some.
When you have some, hold onto it.
When you have nothing, get what you can.
Christ teaches His followers that it is more blessed to give than receive (Acts 20:35). His messages were always full of compassion for others with a direction that seems backwards from the world’s approach. No matter how much you have, give away to get more.
Proverbs 11:24-25 wonderfully illustrates this amazing way of living: “One person gives freely, yet gains even more; another withholds unduly, but comes to poverty. A generous person will prosper; whoever refreshes others will be refreshed.”
That is a preparedness and provision outlook.
Most Christians understand our role and responsibility in giving but don’t always know how to do it. I have some unique tips to help you become a giver (that’s the provision part of our outlook):
- Make your bed every day.
- Never let your car’s gas tank fall below a half tank.
- Fold the laundry and put it away at the same time.
OK, I’ll admit those are strange and seem to have nothing at all to do with giving. Here’s why I suggest them: They develop discipline. Giving requires discipline. Most things that produce a wonderful result will have a root in discipline: a healthy body, earning a college degree, raising amazing children, excelling in music or sports.
I know it may seem strange but start making your bed every morning then notice how you feel when you crawl into a neatly made bed at night. It’s kind of a first step in caring about how you live.
When you notice your gas tank is approaching the halfway mark, fill it. This one in particular showed me what a rush I always seemed to be in because I felt frustrated at following through on my own experiment. I especially found it unpleasant when the weather was bad or I was really tired and just wanted to get home. It didn’t take long to bend my emotions to get the tank full and now I do it consistently.
Folding laundry and putting it away is one seemingly unending household chore, especially for those of you with kids. I had gotten into the habit of washing clothes, getting them into the dryer, but then folding them at a later time. Sometimes I didn’t fold them until the next load was ready for the dryer which caused me to restart the dryer to get the wrinkles out, then fold, then move the next load in. For some reason I thought folding a load of laundry and putting it away would take a chunk of time which I often didn’t have so I timed myself. 4 minutes. Four. Minutes. It takes that long for the Keurig to warm up! Now I actually chuckle when I’m doing laundry because I still fight the urge to just leave clothes in the dryer but now I know I’m causing myself stress over a 4 minute chore.
Though these discipline-developing ideas may not seem directly linked to preparing or providing, by following through they built something in me that I needed to become a giver. Sometimes it was bending my will or emotions to meet a need at hand. Sometimes it reduced the stress of knowing I had an incomplete chore weighing on me. Sometimes it was overcoming laziness. Sometimes it gave me comfort knowing I was taking small steps that would add up to bigger finished projects. Mostly it demonstrated to me that I could be trusted and faithful in small things.
When the time comes for us to use our preparations to provide for others we will be well served to have cultivated a giving attitude first.