It is not all about you!

This statement runs counter to our culture. But what if we looked at life as the gift it truly is and our experiences, wisdom and resources as gifts to benefit not just ourselves but others? Many people say "Bless Me" prayers, but I strive to say, “Bless me to become a blessing” prayers.

We can easily complicate loving and serving others. We can make generosity too complicated. We get stuck fussing over strategy, return on investment and efficacy. These things can be important, but oftentimes they hold us back from amazingly ordinary generosity, which is where it all begins, focusing on a person, a family, a cause that moves us and simply taking action and moving forward.

Some time ago, I was asked to sit on a committee to address a problem and find ways to solve it. We met, took notes, met more, took more notes, talked about surveys, statistical data sent out a plethora of emails. When all was said and done, there was more said than done.

I stopped attending those meetings and very interestingly no one even noticed my absence. I found other places and people to invest my time and resources in. It feels so much better to actually be generous and do loving things for others.

I love the way Bob Goff puts it: “Love God, love people and do stuff." That is the main theme behind his award-winning book "Love Does.”

Just go and do something for someone else. When you do, it feels good.

If your motivation is to get something in return, well, it feels all wrong.

Or if your motivation is more like an obligation -- I have to do this, it is no fun.

I like to say, "I don’t have to do this, but I get to do this." I get to love others, buy someone breakfast or a cup of coffee. I get to leave an encouraging note or serve someplace in our community where I do not get press or public accolade. Just go and do!"

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It is the premise of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, to go into all the world (all people of all kinds and shapes and sizes and ideals and values) and love them. Jesus, of course, said, “Love your neighbor as yourself.” (Mark 12:31) This is not a metaphor for something else. It actually means, love someone near you. Are you doing that? Where and how often? If life is all about you, then you missed living.

Remember the joy and excitement as a kid of being invited to a party? You felt valued, included, wanted and ready to have a fun.

What if we lived life with a childlike enthusiasm and sense of fun? Life is best when it is lived adding value to others. Love is a verb, it is action. Not just sitting in meetings or sitting thinking about who will do something for you.

I have learned that givers have just as many legitimate needs as takers but simply have determined to be givers.

Howard Thurman said, "Don't ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive."

Come alive and love others, be generous and don’t forget to smile.

Bernie Federmann is the senior pastor of Lompoc Foursquare Church and chaplain for Lompoc police and fire departments.