by Megan Rohrer
Some people think faithful giving always comes from a cheerful giver with Good Samaritan values (generous without expectation of repayment in the future). But, the giving of biblical characters is much more diverse and human. In our own lives, our giving shifts based on our access to resources, trust of those we are giving to, and maturity.
Here are a few of the giving archetypes that spring to mind from the Bible. As you read them, think about the ways they fit your actions or the actions of others in your life.
The Jesus Giver gives a gift much grander than you could ever return, either through self-sacrifice or from a sense that their gift could benefit their larger community. This person may value meaningful time spent together as the only gift they are interested in receiving in return, or they hope that you will pay their compassion forward.
The Jacob and Essau Giver always compare the gifts they give to what others are giving and have a conscious or unconscious desire to get bigger gifts in return. This type of giver may be hoping for physical or monetary gifts or for the affection of those they give to.
The Ruth Giver uses their influence and assets to advocate for others. This person may use charm or advocacy to provide others with safety, security and tangible goods.
The Mary Giver makes the best of giving, even if they weren’t given much choice in the matter. Determined that good can come out of even the most uncomfortable situations, this type of giver is convinced that God’s justice is a promise that will soon be fulfilled.
The Paul Giver provides unsolicited feedback about how others should make the best out of the gifts they are given. This person may be loving like a mother or critical like an instructor who is determined to help others use their gifts to the fullest.
The Jael Giver seems at first to be kind and supportive, but it is only a matter of time until this giver uses their help against you to win an argument or to inflict mental or physical harm. This type of giver may or may not be aware of the consequences of their actions.
The Peter Giver has good intentions, but doesn’t always understand or think about how the future could be shaped by their gifts. This person may simply be living fully in the present or be unaware about how the world has changed.
The Jonah Giver is grumpy at every step of the process. It annoys them that they have to help others, deliver the harsh truth that only they can deliver or that others are being treated with more kindness than they feel they are given.
1. What kind of a giver are you?
2. What kind of a giver would you like to become?
3. What kind of giver do you want your family, your congregation or your pastor to be?
God, who gives beyond our imagining, help us to cultivate a generous life, to be good stewards of your gifts and to welcome gifts from others when we are too proud to ask for help. Grant us a sense of humor, to forgive ourselves when we are wasteful, give recklessly or let love persuade us to give more than is safe and healthy. We also pray that you will bring your justice, transform our debt into abundance, and provide equal access to economic opportunity to your people (by which we mean everyone). Be with us and make your presence known in all our giving and receiving. Amen.
Pastor Megan Rohrer has served as the executive director of Welcome since June of 2002. She has a Masters of Divinity from the Pacific School of Religion in Berkeley, Calif. Rostered by both the Lutheran church (ELCA) and the Episcopal Diocese of California, Megan is called by Santa Maria y Martha, herchurch, and St. Francis Lutheran and St. Aidan’s Episcopal. Megan received an honorary doctorate for community service from Palo Alto University. August 19, 2012, was named “Pastor Megan Rohrer Day” by the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, and in February Megan will receive an honorable mention as an Unsung Hero of Compassion by His Holiness the Dalai Lama.