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How to Decide Where to Give
October 7, 2019
Ronald Blue Trust is pleased to partner with Women Doing Well to provide relevant and inspiring content to our readers. The following was written by Mary Tomlinson, originally published on
There are so many needs in the world and so many requests that tug at my heart. On the surface, they all seem to be the “right” thing to do. But they can also be overwhelming, bringing on what feels like a lose–lose scenario: If I give, I feel pressured and off purpose, but if I don’t give, I feel badly. How much will really make a difference? Will my husband Bill and I be on the same page? How can I say no without feeling terrible?
The ongoing dread and uncertainty when giving requests came my way indicated my “joyful heart in giving” was waning.
We are not alone in this struggle. During the time I worked at Disney, the company was constantly bombarded by giving requests. As a result, they initiated a process to determine how much they were giving collectively and to whom. Then they developed a strategy for what types of organizations they should give to in order to make a significant difference. Ultimately and not surprisingly, they determined that children’s charities were their number one priority. Suddenly it was easier to say no when necessary and to give more to a fewer group of organizations to make a bigger impact.
Using this as a model, Bill and I sat down to talk about our individual purpose statements and what causes were dearest to our hearts as a couple. We talked about all the needs of the world and began to narrow down to those we were most passionate about. Our two primary causes became missions and building strong marriages.
Our children and many we love have been involved with mission work and we wanted to continue to support those efforts—whether international or domestic—as long as the request included ways to reach out with the gospel.
Building strong marriages came from a deeply rooted passion of mine because I come from an upbringing that included two painful divorces. I emerged from those experiences determined to stop that generational imprint and ensure that I—and now my married children—have fabulous marriages.
Once we made our giving decisions, it was so much easier to say no to needs outside of these areas. It also enabled us to give more to those causes that aligned with who we are as a couple.
Every day I am reminded that all the other needs still exist. And while we stay open to the Lord’s leading, I also know He calls us each to a very specific purpose. By seeking His design for our lives and our giving, we can once again give with joy and confidence.
“Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.”
2 Corinthians 9:7
About Mary Tomlinson
Mary Tomlinson is a high-energy motivator who is passionate about encouraging individuals and implementing change. With over 30 years of corporate and consulting experience, including 18 years at Disney, she has a real-world perspective on what is achievable in business and life. As president of On-Purpose Partners, Mary works with businesses, non- profits and government organizations and with individuals from many walks of life, helping each achieve greater purpose and focus. She lives in Wake Forest, N.C., with her husband and is a happy Grandma to two granddaughters. Her purpose statement is “inspiring hope.”
© Mary Tomlinson 2019
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