As this upcoming weekends sermon is on Joy, I thought it was interesting that the below post came in an email. The below is from the Lily Foundation Family on Fundraising. I went to their certification program in the Spring and was happy to have the author of this post as my instructor. She is a United Methodist as well so I take her insights seriously.
Read through and see if anything hits home for you.
by Melissa Spas
In conversation with religious leaders and fundraisers, I regularly hear reflections on the experience of joy. Joy, as distinct from happiness or contentment, reflects an emotional reaction that points beyond oneself toward a larger experience of connection and celebration. Joy has connotations of delight, and of well-being and enthusiasm about having what one desires. C.S. Lewis’s Surprised by Joy is the story of his early life and his discovery of faith, and throughout he discusses what he notes as Joy with a capital J. In his conclusion, he says of these experiences of feeling Joy:
It was valuable only as a pointer to something other and outer. While that other was in doubt, the pointer naturally loomed large in my thoughts. When we are lost in the woods the sight of a signpost is a great matter… But when we have found the road and are passing signposts every few miles, we shall not stop and stare. They will encourage us and we shall be grateful to the authority that set them up.
For people of faith, these experiences of joy take on new meaning, directing our attention toward God.
In the work of fundraising and philanthropy, joy has a similar significance. Hank Rosso, the founder of The Fund Raising School, said that,
Fundraising is the gentle art of teaching the joy of giving.
We repeat that simple motto because it so clearly reflects the experiences of generous people, whether they are donors, philanthropists, or nonprofit leaders. Through giving, we are able to encounter the lives of others, integrating our own deep purpose with meaningful impact greater than what we might achieve alone.
I recently read a beautiful book addressing the complexity and wonder of joy as a human experience, The Book of Joy, by His Holiness the Dalai Lama and Archbishop Desmond Tutu, with Douglas Abrams. This meditative book creates for the reader the experience of listening in on two wise practitioners whose lives are oriented in generosity toward others, both within their own faith and across difference. They discuss “Eight Pillars of Joy,” and the eighth pillar is generosity. Archbishop Tutu describes how, by giving, one is actually “… making space for more to be given to you.” He goes on to say of generosity, “In the end, generosity is the best way of becoming more, more, and more joyful.”
They note the prominent place of charity in almost every religious tradition, and consider this in terms of connection, drawing people toward one another. In Buddhist teaching, for example, there are three kinds of generosity: material giving, giving freedom from fear, and spiritual giving. By growing in our understanding and practice of giving, we also grow in our capacity to experience joy.
I am once again impressed, through these leaders’ words, by the ongoing invitation, from faithful practitioners and religious teaching, to consider how we frame joy in our practice of faith. This opportunity for the cultivation of joy is apparent in our orientation toward one another, with a posture of generosity, and particularly through inviting others to participate in that life of faith with their giving. If we are in a position of philanthropy and fundraising, we encounter daily opportunities to increase joy.