Do you ever just want to quit? (A Good Friday reflection)

winners never quDo you ever just want to quit?

I do.  Sometimes.  Not often.

But sometimes I do.

Today, Good Friday, I reflect on what it might mean to “quit” in the face of purpose, valuable sacrifice, and eternal changemaking.

I believe that we have been given a great example which we are invited to humbly follow.

And to not quit.

For about the 100th time in the last several years, someone recently said to me, “You know, if you had invested your creativity and capacities into personal endeavors instead of into your kids, you would be a multimillionaire by now.”

And the statement—meant as a compliment—just lays there in the space between us.

I never know what to do with it, how to respond to it verbally and emotionally.

And so I don’t.

I have had the joy of meeting people of all walks of life: billionaires, millionaires, the so-called 99% and the 1%, and people in poverty like I could never imagine.

I have been hosted in grand mansions and in homes that barely have a roof—let alone walls—on the hot barren mountains of Guatemala and in the swampy grasslands of Uganda.  (Mansions and huts in both locations, by the way, not to mention on ski slopes, vineyard hills, upper east-sides, and ocean- and canal-fronts.  Poverty and abundance are present everywhere.)

What I know for sure is that joy is only present in these homes when compassion is also present—in tandem with the treasured privileging of giving.  Whether it be a humble cup of tea or a generous check, when I have been in homes that offer something to Other (whether or not that Other is AidChild), peace and hope also dwell in those spaces, those hearts—those homes.

Conversely, when I am in homes that privilege power and Self above Other, no matter the luxury or the comfort, there is a sense of unrest, of longing—of wanting or needing more.

In short, the happiest people I know—whether millionaires or not—are those who are giving.

So many of the people who contribute to AidChild do so out of need, not out of abundance.  They take on extra jobs, they have bake-sales—they go without.

While others do it out of abundance, with wisdom, calculation and purpose.  There’s no “let-them-eat-cake” here.  Instead, there are notions of great care and conviction.

And so, I do not quit.  I am neither worthy nor unworthy of the gift of giving.

But I am blessed to have been rescued from the pursuit of self-reward and treasure-building; rescued by this wondrous thing called meaning, and by this tortuous thing called purpose.

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13 Responses to Do you ever just want to quit? (A Good Friday reflection)

  1. Pepi
    March 29, 2013 at 3:13 pm

    Nathaniel,
    I’m not sure how one can express in any earthly currency the legacy you are building by investing in your children, teaching them to invest into others. I believe that legacy can and will outlive anything that can be expressed in a monetary value!!!

    • March 29, 2013 at 3:28 pm

      Thank you, Pepi. You have always been so generous, often giving out of need, I’m sure. Bless you so much.

  2. Lynda
    March 29, 2013 at 4:15 pm

    Nathaniel,

    The truth that your ‘someones’ don’t know, is that you ARE a multimillionaire. Just not in dollars.

    But you already know this. It’s evident in all your writings. And it’s certainly evident in your life’s work.

    We all leave a legacy. It’s up to each of us to see that it is the legacy He has purposed for us to leave, by His grace, leading and empowerment.

    Happy Easter – “Sunday’s comin’!!!”

    • March 29, 2013 at 4:46 pm

      Lynda, Thank you for this. I was tempted to write that I am a millionaire, as you say, but I didn’t want to seem trite. Thanks for saying it for me. = ) These are stressful but exciting times. I’ll be sharing more soon. Again, thanks for commenting.

      • Lynda Ziemba
        March 30, 2013 at 3:39 am

        Hi Nathaniel,

        Lynda Ziemba here…I would love to take credit for the comment on your blog (which I did enjoy immensely, by the way), but cannot. You must now more than one Lynda with a “y”…lol.

        However, I totally agree w\ Lynda’s comments about you and your incredible work…You are “rich” and you “enrich” in so many ways!!

        Lynda Z

  3. suzy from Africa
    March 29, 2013 at 8:38 pm

    Hey Nathan….again you blew me away. Grabbed me with the notion
    of “quitting”. Then skillfully taking me through the life giving concept of giving with compassion…is what brings true wealth. THANK YOU AGAIN for beckoning me onward and upward!!!

  4. sue
    March 29, 2013 at 8:51 pm

    Thank you Son. Yes, you are a wealthy man in every way. Meaning and purpose WITH active compassion. However, I know it is so hard right now with all the financial challenges ON all sides. BUT GOD!!! You inspire me towards HIGHER purpose engulfed in love AND giving. HUGS AND PRAYERS, always. MOM

  5. Lisa LaPlace
    March 30, 2013 at 9:58 am

    The value of a person is not judged with
    the monetary gains earned during a lifetime,
    but in what is left behind
    when they depart this earthly presence.

  6. Mara
    April 4, 2013 at 11:14 am

    The bumper sticker I saw on my way into work today said:
    “Does it fit in your casket?”

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Nathaniel is CEO of AidChild.org. He holds a Master's Degree in Human Development and Psychology from Harvard University where he was a Reynolds Fellow in Social Entrepreneurship, and winner of the 2010 Harvard HDP Marshal Award. He also holds a PhD in Leadership Studies from the University of San Diego where he was the Dammeyer Fellow in Global Education Leadership, and a Cordes Fellow at Opportunity Collaboration. Nathaniel is author of "We Are Not Mahogany: Three stories about the male African life." Prior to his move to Uganda in 2000, Nathaniel was Deputy Director of the Office of the Governor of Arizona, and Director of Education at Leadership, Inc.

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