A few years ago, I reflected on how Christ's self-emptying at Christmas is similar to charitable giving. Another and similar form of self-gift is our work.
In Christ’s nativity, Saint Paul tells us, God “emptied himself” and took the form of a servant born in a manger. He “poured out” all that he was to make of himself a gift to the world. On Christmas, we learn that God’s nature is to empty itself in love of others. To be like God, then, we must practice emptying ourselves, pouring ourselves out as gifts for others.
Charitable giving is one way we make ourselves like Christ. Our gift may not be entire, like Christ’s, but our giving is a form of emptying by which we imitate and become more like Him. And by becoming more like Christ, we become more fully ourselves.
As we head into a new year that many expect to be a difficult one for the nonprofit sector, it is worth calling to mind that work is itself a form of self-emptying. Day in, day out, we pour ourselves into our work, giving ourselves to our labor.
Especially for those working in nonprofits, your work is a self-emptying in service of a mission. You daily give yourself to a mission that will improve your community or your country, to help others and build institutions.
If this turbulent economy makes for a tight year for fundraising, take heart in knowing that your labor is a form of self-gift. By pouring yourself daily into your work, you give yourself as a gift for others, just as Christ emptied himself as a gift for us. Fundraising is a high calling, and in down years economically, a greater challenge. This means that 2023 poses a great opportunity to give ourselves in service to a mission, to empty oneself, like Christ, as a gift to others.