Which is easier, to give or to receive? As women in ministry, we spend most of our time giving to others. We give of our time, our money, our resources and especially of ourselves. When my husband and I were working in West Africa as church planters, I learned an important lesson from the very people that we were giving our lives to. I discovered that it is easy to give, but receiving is often the most difficult.
I had a close Togolese friend who sold ice in our neighborhood out of our freezer. We had extra room in the freezer and she needed more income. Except for a few problems at the beginning, like when the plastic bags of water broke before they were frozen and we ended up with six inches of ice in the bottom of the freezer, she did well with her new business.
One week she came to me and told me that she wanted us to have matching dresses made. She was going to save her profits until we had enough for the dresses. My first reaction was to just give her the money. It seemed ridiculous for her to work for several weeks when I could just give her the money. We only needed about fifteen American dollars for each outfit and at about six dollars a week that would take five or six weeks. For an American who thinks that time is money, it went totally against my thinking.
I thought a lot about the situation over the next few days. My husband and I had helped out her family on many occasions. She was able to use our freezer for free, which allowed for more of a profit margin. Now she wanted to give back to me and who am I to refuse her that blessing. If it is more blessed to give than receive than sometimes, that means allowing others to give to me.
How hard it was to receive from someone who makes six dollars a week. I wonder if I have ever really given until it hurts. It is easy for me to give out of my wealth, but she gave to me out of her poverty.
View the original print magazine where this article was first published.