Are You Part of the 20% or the 80%?

I have a friend that I walk with and as we walk we chat about different things happening in our lives. One evening as we were walking she happened to mention that her church was seeing a lower and lower attendance and how badly she felt for her Minister. She then said “well, I suppose he gets paid the same whether there are many people there or not” and I replied that this probably wasn’t the case as most churches rely on the financial support of their parishioners through tithes and donations to keep things afloat and that includes paying their Minister.

Admittedly this got me to thinking though as it has been many years since I have attended a “formal” church and thinking that maybe things had changed after all these years, I thought I should do a little research. Well, things haven’t changed and yet some of what I read astounded me. When people have had it pointed out to them that many Spiritual Leaders spend many, many hours each week tending to the needs of their parishioners, and that they did in Truth deserve to be paid and paid well for all the work that they do, many people would reply with “well, if they do so much, why don’t they ask for volunteers to help them”?

Good question and I have a good answer. Someone, and I have no idea who or how they came up with this number, determined that in any given population there are about 20% of the people who give, who volunteer either formally or are always on call for neighbors in need and 80% who do little or nothing but always come up with excuses as to why they just couldn’t possibly.

I know I have seen this. At the school my boys once attended it was always the same parents and grandparents, aunts and uncles, who showed up for parent – teacher meetings, open house night, took time off work to come to plays, award ceremonies for the kids or anything else the school had going. The same faces over and over again, year after year. These were the same people who also volunteered to host and run different groups for the kids such as Cub Scouts. They helped their children and often a neighbor’s child as well with their homework. The kids all knew who they could go to in case of an emergency, which adults around them were present, reliable and caring.

When I was growing up I could name off all the people who were consistently willing to help their neighbors or who volunteered at the local hospital. When I visited my grandmother when she finally had to be placed in a nursing home, I saw the same people over and over again who came to visit their own family members. Rarely did a new face ever appear and as we lived close to the home and my grandmother and I were very close, I was in and out of there constantly so I had a good idea of who routinely had visitors and who didn’t.

As I grew older and other family members started to have health or other issues, it was always the same people within my own family who did anything to help even though all were either working, going to school full time, had small children to care for, etc. Yet they made the time to do what they felt was Right. I know this is also true of many other families where one or two people shoulder the work that other members could help with. But choose not to.

Currently in my own neighborhood there is a group that year in and year out does a great deal of volunteer work for our community. Here again, the same faces are the ones to raise their hands when volunteers are needed, the same people are the ones who consistently offer to help their neighbors and come up with project ideas for everyone to become involved with. Recently one member suggested that perhaps it was time for the group to start focusing more on those who have contributed so much, to see what needs they had that the group could meet because she felt it was time that members themselves needed to benefit from all their giving as well and I thought “Good! It’s about time as many of these people have offered years of service and received little enough recognition for it. And they deserve to receive in return what they have so kindly and generously given to many others!”

Needless to say the same faces always comprise a very small percentage of every group’s population. Always there are those willing to receive but not so willing to give something back. And strangely enough, it is the ones who want to receive and not give who seem to do the most complaining about the state of their lives or of the world. One person had mentioned to me that there were folks in the neighborhood that had been complaining that some others didn’t always keep their yards mowed as they felt they should and she said “If I felt that way, I would simply say to my neighbor, hey, I am mowing my yard today and if it would be helpful, I would be glad to come over and mow yours too”. She is one of the 20%. The 20% tend to find solutions that Bless everyone involved while the 80% continue to fret and complain and wonder why their lives are filled with so many annoyances and unhappiness.

The 20% do benefit greatly from all their Giving. It’s amazing how often someone in the 20% group will have need of something and someone will pick up on that need and provide for it. It’s wonderful to see the Happiness on the face of a 20% as they describe the activities they are involved in that mean so much to them. They always seem to have better relationships with other people and if they do mention that they need a helping hand, someone and usually many someone’s, will offer to lend assistance in any way that they can. They seem to have much stronger family relationships, their children and spouses are a True Blessing to them and the Good that they do for others always seems to benefit the people the Love as well. The daughter of one member of the 20% I know was just offered an amazing job that is perfect for her and it came about in a way that most people would have said could never have happened. But it did.

In any given neighborhood the people will be able to tell you who they know they can count on in times of trouble and in times of Joy. The 20% people give cheerfully and with Love in part because they know that they are sowing the seeds of Good Will that shall surely return to them multiplied and it does! Yet they also do it because in their own Hearts and Souls they know they are doing the Right thing. They have taken on board the story, whether they have either heard it or not, of why “Heaven is Heaven and Hell is Hell”

Here is the story.

A man died and as he approached the pearly gates he asked Saint Peter if there really was a Hell and why a Loving God would create such a thing. Saint Peter said to him, “why don’t we take a tour of Hell first before you enter Heaven”. The man agreed and off they went.

When they entered Hell the man saw that instead of a lake of fire, there were long tables were people were seated. They had been given long spoons from which they could feed themselves but because the spoons were so long, none were able to eat. They sat there and suffered in misery, each struggling to feed him or herself but never managing to do so.

The man was quickly ready to leave so off they went to Heaven. And here the man saw the same thing only there was one major difference; the people were all eating happily because they were using their spoons to feed one another.

The man realized that it is the choices each of us makes on a daily basis as to whether we live in Heaven or Hell because either one are present right where we are according to what is happening within our own minds. We get to choose what sort of neighborhood we shall live in, what sorts of people we shall associate with, what we shall give or not give to others. There is no “angry god in the sky” to judge us either way, we do that well enough on our own.

So getting back to the Ministers, I have to wonder how many have asked for volunteers and how often they have had the 20% respond, if that. How many people within the church population rely on the 20% to do all the things that they want to see done and that would get done and done more quickly if the remaining 80% would only get up and do their bit to help?

Because at the end of the day the world is the way it is because only 20% of the population are willing to take it upon themselves to make the world a better place. The world is the way it is because only 20% of the population values Spiritual Paths and all the responsibility that goes along with walking that Path. Sure, a lot of people give lip service to it but when all is said and done, how many of us are really doing all that we know we should be to live and express more of the Spiritual Values in our day to day living?

Louise Hay expressed this wonderfully in one of her lectures when she said “So many people will sit and do their affirmations and proclaim Love for All then they get on the subway and scream at other people”.

It isn’t always easy to do what we know to be Right. But we can work at it day by day if we really desire to. Recently I was in a store and this woman who had her cart parked across the front aisle looked at me, looked at her cart, realized that it would make it difficult for me to access the other aisles and instead of moving it aside, pushed it even further into my path and then smirked at me. At one time in my life I would have been furious. Instead I felt sorry for her because it occurred to me that even though she thought she was doing something to harm me, she was really only harming herself. She cannot possibly be a very happy woman if she feels the need to try and disturb someone else.

We aren’t always going to get things perfectly perfect each and every time. I know I sure don’t. I know how much Inner Work I need to do myself! We aren’t always going to feel like being the ones to raise our hands and help out. There are days when I would much rather not put forth the effort. And too, for some they may not always be in a position where they can do “formal” volunteer work. But there is always something that we can do.

I have a neighbor that is older and has some challenges, so there are several of us that have all taken it upon ourselves to help her with different things. Two of us routinely take her garbage out for example. Others stop by to chat with her and see if she needs anything from the store the next time they go or if she needs help with other things. And it doesn’t end with her either. If someone is ill or injured, everyone pitches in and brings over food, helps with housework or makes phone calls, what ever may be needed.

From time to time we have some very intense storms here that bring down tree branches and sometimes damage homes as well. Again, every one pitches in to cut up the branches if need be and gets them to the curb where they can be collected by the city. The year before last a neighbor’s roof was damaged by straight line winds and barely had the storm passed when people were over there with tarps and ladders to insure that water wouldn’t get into her home.

When Hurricane Floyd came through North Carolina people from not only surrounding areas within the state and elsewhere, but the people who lived here and were heavily impacted by Floyd came together before FEMA or the Red Cross could arrive and started helping one another out. Some of these folks knew they had just lost every single thing they owned and they still turned around and looked to see who they could help. A surprising number turned down financial assistance from the government saying that they knew of folks who needed the help more than they did.

Now, can you imagine what our world would be like if instead of there only being 20% making this sort of effort if say 40%, 60% or even more decided that this was of value to them? It can be as easy as deciding “this is what I can do and I am going to do it. I don’t care if anyone else joins me or not, I am going to do it anyway and sooner or later other people around me will also join in, or I shall find myself in a new place where the other people feel as I do. There are other people who also recognize that we all have a responsibility to make this world better for everyone and they act on that the best they know how.”

We can either join forces with the 20% who do make a difference and believe me, they do! Or we can sit with the 80% and wonder why the world seems so awful and why are lives aren’t all that happy and why things seem to be such a struggle all of the time. The 20% have their own things to face as well and yet somehow their “burdens” are always made lighter by others in their group. In helping someone else, they forget about their own problems for a while which allows The Universe to step in and resolve things for them. Or a solution suddenly pops into their minds that dissolve the challenge completely.

What fascinates me is how many of the 20% I have known would not always describe themselves as being “Spiritual” or on a Spiritual Path. Of course they are, as we all are. Yet they seem to get something on a Soul level that many others that are seeking to have their own desires fulfilled haven’t understood yet. What we give away we gain. And what we gain through our giving always comes back to us multiplied. Especially when we give of ourselves to someone else because of a sense of Love, Good Will and a True Desire to see someone else have all the Good things in life that we would wish for ourselves.

If you want to be Happy, make someone else Happy.

If you want more Love, give more Love to others.

If you want more Peace of Mind, help someone else to feel more Peaceful.

If you want others to be Kind to you, be Kind to others.

If you want others to speak well of you, speak well of others.

If you want increased Blessings in your life, be a Blessing to others.

If you want to get ahead in life, help someone else get ahead.

What ever it is you want in life you have to give it to someone else first before you can receive the fullness of what you desire. That is just how it works and no matter how long or how hard anyone tries to do the opposite, they will never really find what they are seeking until they give of themselves first.

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