God Wants You to Share

By: Glenda G. Lofton, Ph.D.

Jul 2, 2019

When our granddaughter, Megan, was six and our grandson, Samuel, was four, Tommy and I took them to Grand Isle.  Like most children their age, we had only gone a few miles when they asked, “When are we going to get there?”  When we responded, “It’s as long as watching Gilligan’s Island six times on TV,” they were not encouraged, so I began to tell them stories of the times we had taken their dad, Bret, and their uncle, Bart, to Grand Isle.  I told them about the time we were fishing off Elmer’s Island in the Gulf of Mexico, and a huge fish jerked our new casting rod out of the boat and into the gulf.  Thinking we would never see the rod again, we traveled several miles on down the island.  On our way back we spotted a popping cork floating on the water, stopped, and began to pull on it, and up came the casting rod, minus the fish of course, but we were really happy. “That’s a great story, Grandmere,” they said, “but when are we going to get there?”  I told them about taking Bret and Bart to Fort Livingston at Barataria Pass where they pretended to be the famous pirate Jean Lafitte. I told them about porpoises following our boat through the pass.  I told them about seeing a slice of bread floating in the gulf with a tiny “Captain Crab” sitting on top.  I told them about Bret and Bart fishing all night in the pass at Bridgeside and catching so many fish that they would say, “Please, I don’t want any more fish on my hook.”  “Those are great stories,” they would say, “but when are we going to get there?”  About half way to Grand Isle, when I was beginning to run out of stories, we stopped at a convenience store to get them each a snack.  Like most children their ages, Samuel quickly ate his snack, but Megan ate hers very slowly hoping to make it last as long as possible. I observed Samuel through the mirror look longingly at Megan’s snack, and then I heard his still, small voice as he whispered, “Megan, God wants you to share.”            

Sharing is one of many values that we do try to instill in our children and our grandchildren. Shel Silverstein, in his insightful book Falling Up (1996), captures the moral dilemma posed by sharing in a poem entitled “Sharing.”  

          “I’ll share your toys, I’ll share your money.

          I’ll share your toast.  I’ll share your honey.

          I’ll share your milk and your cookies too—

          The hard part’s sharing mine with you.”                

When I posed this dilemma to Samuel, he still adamantly declared, “But He does, Grandmere.  He does want us to share.”  I always smile when I remember this incident and the good times we shared at Grand Isle, and since that time, I’ve thought a lot about sharing and the many ways we use the word.  

Webster’s dictionary gives a variety of definitions for the word share. One is “to use, experience, occupy or enjoy with others.”  To me this implies mutual sharing or participation, having things in common, and building relationships based on trust and understanding. When I taught second grade, we sang a song that ended, “And everything’s best when it’s shared with a friend.” When I worked in the statewide school improvement project, we had a statewide Share Fair to share our knowledge of what works in improving schools. Sometimes Tommy thinks I get a little carried away with sharing.  He will say to me, “Can’t we just talk to each other?  Do we have to share?” Or sometimes he might ask, “Could we just share some silence?”  Nevertheless, in the workplace as in life, research supports the mutual benefits of building strong relationships based on trust and having shared purpose, shared values, shared leadership, and shared responsibility for getting the job done.  

A second definition according to Webster is to “grant to another the partial use, enjoyment, or possession of a thing.” To me this implies individual sharing that gives evidence of caring, sharing that expects nothing in return, sharing that might not appear mutually beneficial or even fair, the kind of sharing where Megan gave Samuel part of her snack knowing that he had already eaten his, the kind of sharing we sing about at church, “Do you really care? Do you know how to share?” – the kind of sharing captured in the Biblical principle, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”  

As I pondered the two definitions of sharing, I reread Stephen Covey’s discussion of sharing in The Eighth Habit (2004). “Sharing”, he writes, “is an interesting word. When I share something with you, I give what I have to you.” It then occurred to me that this simple definition summarizes both of the definitions above. Whether we are sharing an experience or having things in common, whether we are sharing our time, our ideas or our material possessions, we are giving of ourselves.  Both types of sharing are mutually beneficial because as Tommy often reminds us, “When we help others, we are really helping ourselves.”                

Natural disasters and holidays provide us with many opportunities to share with those in need, but an even greater challenge is sharing with those we encounter on a daily basis.  I believe that Samuel was right.  God wants us to share – simple acts of kindness and courtesy such as “please, thank you, I love you, and how may I help;” special times with family, friends, and coworkers; knowledge and skills; the blame and the burden when things go wrong; the successes and rewards when things go right; our heritage, our values, and above all, the hope and faith that sustains us.   

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We Believe...

Relationships are built…one on one.
Know your people - match interest and talents to the tasks.
Don’t manage by numbers. (They just show if we’re on track.) People do the work.
People should feel better when they leave than when they came – and in turn we feel better.
When we help others, we help ourselves.
Great expectations: fair pay, fair treatment, teach me.
Have fun…and be better.
Work at having fun (51% of the time.) If you don’t feel it, fake it. Having fun is not slacking off. Work is more natural than play.