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Home > Support > Mothering > The "Takers" and the "Givers" in my family...
Question: There are two members in my family who especially try to grow more deeply in their spiritual lives. There are two members who are particularly self-centered. Sometimes it seems to me that the more the first two "die unto self," the more the self-centered ones take advantage and just continue to grow more self-centered. In this situation, are the spiritual members doing more harm than good? Should they be requiring more of the self-centered members instead of always giving in and "offering it up"? For instance, one member has the job of rolling the garbage cans to the curb. If it's a rainy day, the giver may think, "When they get home, it will be dark and rainy. I will do this chore for them." However, before you know it, the taker is expecting that it will be done by the giver every week and gets to the point where he doesn't even remember to do it any more. Or the taker walks into the room and changes the TV to what he wants to watch without considering the giver. The giver thinks to offer it up and suffer quietly, but is that really helping the taker? This plays out in a variety of situations because there is one adult and one child giver and one adult and one child taker in the family. If it's the child giver and child taker together, it seems that the taker always gets his way because the giver is so good hearted and knows she can offer it up and save a soul. However, I worry about the taker's soul.

Dear Mom,

What an excellent and well put letter. You have managed to address a spiritual concern that is common and to which most of us can readily identify. Sometimes when we think of lofty spiritual phrases like "dying to self" we have a tendency to think in terms of monasteries, convents, or canonized saints. When in fact the call to "die to self" is one that is to be practiced by all individuals. Let us look at your concerns with a heart that is open to the Holy Spirit and the power of His teachings on this subject. I will share with you my insights that I have gathered over the years. Certainly our family of 10 children has seen a good bit of the behavior you so perfectly described. It is only fitting that we would come to a family to learn how to function in the Body of Christ.

First of all when we are called by the good Jesus to die to self we are not called to suffer needlessly in spite of self. In fact this is exactly the opposite of the call. Jesus asks that we die to our wills and rise confident in His will for us. As humans we have always found it easier to do what is within our will. It is only when the will of the Lord and our will differ that we find that we must remember to die to self and follow in the Lord's will for us. Though this sounds spiritually mature beyond our reasoning it really is quite simple. It is so simple that it can be found in the every day tasks like taking out the garbage. J Let's examine this question from the standpoint that you described: Giver and Taker.

The Taker is supposed to perform a task as assigned by those who love and desire to see his/her maturity enhanced through the acceptance of this responsibility. Is it fair or prudent to the development of the Taker to remove him from this training? Suppose the Taker was to study for an important test that would allow him/her to advance to a greater degree of responsibility in the workplace. Suppose that this test was centered upon skills that would need to be performed. Now imagine that in his desire to "help" or "die to self" the Giver decided to complete the test for the Taker. At first I am certain that due to a lack of maturity the Taker would be thrilled to have this responsibility lifted from his shoulders. However what good would it do the Taker if in the future the skills that were tested were called upon and he had no knowledge of the skills because he failed to complete the test? What then had the Giver really given the Taker?

I think you see my point. To die to self means to have the courage to stand up for what is right, for what is prudent, for what is holy, and to accept the criticism that may befall one because of this stand. Constantly doing for others only serves to lessen their ability to die to self and therefore in many ways is more hurtful.

In our family we have this scenario with two or three of the children. The youngest of the bunch seems to manage to get all her chores done by others. Many times the other children will do the chores for her just to get the work done so we can get on with what we are planning to do. I have to discipline myself to stand by the agreement that we have made concerning duty and responsibility.

One important issue to keep uppermost in our minds when we are addressing this challenge is our personal response to the challenge. Our response should be one borne of love and understanding without enabling hurtful behavior. Charitable words and an approach that is helpful goes a long way towards forming the maturity of another person.

A person who is very giving by nature must remember that all that we do is meant to honor the Lord. We do not honor the Lord when we allow others to behave in a negative way. Eventually a person who "takes" will begin to see their behavior as it is compared to a person who is a giving and generous soul. It is through the witness of caring individuals that the Body of Christ is uplifted and formed in the reflection of Jesus. Sometimes this witness must be an example of what is right and other times it must be a teaching example that instructs.

Watch carefully for the times when a Giver is used by a Taker and instruct both about the call to responsibility as is manifest in the Lord's call to "Die to Self" so as to rise with Jesus.

I feel certain that you will handle this challenge well. I sense that you are a holy and prayerful mother. You have seen a challenge and you are calling upon the wisdom of the Holy Spirit to guide your actions. You are a gift to your family and the Lord will honor the docility of your heart that wants the Lord's will alone. You have indeed been an example of one who has "died to self."

Jesus, help us each day to awaken in our hearts the call to die to self. Let us give up for You and allow You to instruct and inform our actions so as to better know Your will. Lord, guide all people in the correct ways that are holy and right according to Your designs. We love You, Lord Jesus, and long to do Your will. Amen.

Sending out a prayer,
Rita Munn

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