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Sumter Pastor Clay Smith: Givers, Takers and Matchers

Do you want to be a giver or a taker?

A part of our soul leaps up to say, “I want to be a giver. But another part of our souls is saying, “Wait a minute. What if I give too much? What if I’m taken advantage of?” So we hesitate. According to Adam Grant in his book “Give and Take”, every human gathering has givers, takers and matchers.

The attitude of a donor: “What can I do for you?” The attitude of a taker: “What can you do for me? The attitude of a matcher: “I will do for you what you do for me.”

Takers can start out as givers who get burned. They gave, and someone took too much from them. If the injury is large enough, the giver will change teams, swearing never to be exploited again. Or, takers can be people who simply decide to let greed rule their lives. They believe, “Whoever dies with the most toys wins.”

I think most of us would love to be donors. What’s stopping us? Fear. We fear that we will be taken advantage of, or that we don’t have enough to take care of ourselves, or that what we give won’t make a difference. As a result, we are slipping down to be a matcher. We look to see what others are doing, and we decide that we will match that. If we see Bob put $40 in the offering plate, we will too. If Mary volunteers, I will too. If Tom stays late at work, I will too.

Matchers occupy the happy medium. I have seen many couples who have a “matching” marriage. Family is a series of verbal contracts: “I’ll do it if you want me to.” The problem with matchers is that someone else has to go first. If two partners are disappointed with each other, the marriage freezes.

A true giver gives from an internal source. His joy lies in helping someone else win. A true giver does not give to be recognized. For a true giver, life is not a competition. The joy is not in the size of a financial donation or the number of hours they serve; joy comes from seeing tomorrow be different from today.

So who are you?

God wanted his people Israel to be givers, but they were takers. They wanted God to bless them, protect them and serve them. If they had time, they would try to do a little something for him. It’s funny, they denied being takers, even though they deprived God of respect, resources and rule. If you’re quick to deny that you’re a taker, chances are you are.

When Peter asked Jesus if he should forgive his brother seven times, he thought like a matcher. Matchers keep score. In God’s goodness, he recognizes that many of us start here. This is why Jesus said, “Give, and it will be given to you.” Being a matcher is better than being a taker, but Jesus also made it clear that we could do better. “If you do good to those who are good to you, what will you be grateful for? Even sinners do it.

God’s purpose for you is to be a giver, but not to be a giving giver. Giving only makes sense if you believe in an infinite God who has infinite resources to give to you. I believe that God showed us that he is an infinitely giving God when he sent Jesus, the infinitely pure, to forgive us with infinite grace. When you are truly living in His grace, giving is a joy.

Imagine a family of donors! Wouldn’t you like to have a family like that? Imagine a church filled with donors! What could we do? Imagine a city full of donors! Wouldn’t you like to live there?

It starts with you. Will you trust that God will pour into you, so you can pour out on others?



Reverend Dr. Clay Smith is the senior pastor of Alice Drive Baptist Church in Sumter. Email him at [email protected]