Good Work: Gift Giving

The more I love, the longer I love, the larger I become.  Genuine love is self-replenishing.  The more I nurture the spiritual growth of others, the more my own spiritual growth is nurtured. -M. Scott Peck
Christmas is the gift giving day.  Mission–related work is about giving gifts every day—contribution more than extraction.
I have been fortunate to work with people that have modeled selfless gift giving.  When I was a public school superintendent our PTA president ran a clothing bank.  Our Business Director spent here vacations at a camp for abused children.  Assistants tutor children during their lunch hour and send holiday baskets to families in need.  Our Curriculum Director sent people beautiful handmade cards and gifts.
Peck defines love as extending yourself to benefit the growth of another—a great definition of teaching.   In the first three months of my fifth year I visited almost all of the 1,000 classrooms in our district and saw our teachers extending themselves and giving the gift of learning.
Jeff Petty, a principal from a neighboring district, sent me this quote from Mahatma Gandhi

The law of love will work, just as the law of gravitation will work, whether we accept it or not. Just as the scientist will work wonders out of various applications of the law of nature, even so a [person] who applies the law of love with scientific precision can work great wonders.

Gandhi may be right, but the gift-givers in my life have demonstrated that persistence may be more powerful than precision when it comes to the law of love.  Gift giving, or mission-related work, is never easy and it’s never done–it responds to the most pressing needs in society.  It is hard work, but gift-giving is the ultimate reward.

Tom Vander Ark

Tom Vander Ark is the CEO of Getting Smart. He has written or co-authored more than 50 books and papers including Getting Smart, Smart Cities, Smart Parents, Better Together, The Power of Place and Difference Making. He served as a public school superintendent and the first Executive Director of Education for the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

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