“It’s not about you.” So begins The Purpose Driven Life, and truer words were never spoken. Most of us nod our heads in agreement with that thought, but find living like we believe it a much different matter. I certainly do.
Recently, I looked at two simple kitchen tools, a funnel and a sponge, and realized that they were great metaphors for this tension.
A funnel provides a means of transfer.
A sponge soaks things up.
Here’s the question I’ve been asking myself of late. “Am I living like a funnel or a sponge?”
A funnel may attend conferences, retreats and Bible studies, but she translates her learning into action on behalf of others. And some of her time is spent serving people outside her own family.
A sponge absorbs a lot. She soaks in great teaching, and then looks for the next learning opportunity, growing bloated with knowledge. But there’s not much action. Time spent on behalf of others generally focuses on her own circle.
A funnel takes the term “stewardship” seriously. Material blessings are seen as gifts from God. Generosity with both time and resources is typical of the funnel because she doesn’t see things as “hers,” but entrusted to her by God. (That includes her own children) Funnels are cheerful and quiet givers.
A sponge gives little away. But when she does, others are sure to hear about it. After all, life is expensive and there are clothes to buy, rooms to decorate, children to educate and retirement on the horizon.
A funnel is available and can be interrupted. Her schedule has margin.
A sponge resents intrusions on her time. Planned activities are one thing. Unplanned interruptions are not well received. Her schedule is packed.
A funnel practices hospitality, and she doesn’t let the quest for perfection become the excuse for keeping her door closed to others.
A sponge will meet you for a meal out, but rarely open the door of her home to invite you in.
A funnel seeks to understand.
A sponge wants to be understood.
A funnel feels a responsibility to develop her God-given potential and use it to serve others.
A sponge may have many talents and abilities, but considers it her business what she does with those gifts.
A funnel has a grateful spirit.
A sponge is quick to complain.
What happens when a sponge keeps absorbing and soaking things up and is never squeezed out? It starts to stink! Yuck. And all too often, I live like a saturated sponge.
“Lord, please forgive me. And help me to live this day and every day like a funnel. Everything I have is a gift from you: my time, my talents, and my treasure. I’m blessed to be a blessing. Please show me how, today.”