Sunday, May 19, 2013


Adam Grant is a young, but notable, Professor at Wharton School of Business.  He has written a book entitled Give and Take, in which he divides the world into three groups:  Givers, Takers and Exchangers.  You can see an entertaining explanation of the three at

Which group proves to be most successful?  The answer, according to Grant, is the Givers.  Givers go out to make a difference in the world, to make things better for others, to share what they have, and to be a blessing (sounds like what Jesus had in mind, right?).  But in the process, they gain many friends and associates who prove loyal and important.  They usually get back more than they put in.  Nice guys finish first.  Takers, on the other hand, may succeed in the short run, but over the long haul end up losing more than they win, particularly relationally.  Associates weary of them.  Exchangers, who do some of both giving and taking, end up predictably in the middle.  

Grant then teases his students with a trick question:  Which group ends up at the bottom?  The answer is a surprise.  You might think it is the Takers, but it is the Givers.  The Givers actually split, with some ending up on top and some ending up on bottom - the Exchangers and Takers in between.  How can Givers end up both on top and bottom?  Grant answers that there is a certain percentage of givers who end up bamboozled by the Takers, and thus end up on bottom, wiped out.  

As I have reflected on his research, I've been thinking of pastors that I know.  I have seen some of the most caring pastors eaten alive by Takers.  They are as Giving as any pastor out there, maybe more so.  But they don't know how to manage the incredible drain of Takers, and thus end up with nothing more to give.  I believe that pastors must take care, if they want to be able to Give for the long haul.

I wonder if this discretion was what Jesus showed us when he went away from the crowds, instead of toward them.  For instance, at the end of John 2 we read: "Now while he was in Jerusalem at the Passover Festival, many people saw the signs he was performing and believed in his name.  But Jesus would not entrust himself to them, for he knew all people.  He did not need any testimony about mankind, for he knew what was in each person."  Jesus was not willing to cast his pearls before swine.  As you grow in your ministry, you too will want to grow in your discernment so you can give wisely.  You can even give to the Takers, but stop short of letting them take you down with them.