“To those whom much is given, much is expected.”
These words were spoken by U.S. President John F. Kennedy, who undoubtedly drew direct reference from the Gospel, Luke 12: 48, where it is states: “For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required; and to whom men have committed much, of him they will ask the more.” Not to be left out, Hollywood also presents its paraphrased version of this sentiment in the Spider-Man movie, where Uncle Ben tells a young Peter Parker: “With great power comes great responsibility.”
In all three contexts, the underlying view is that we should fully utilize our varied, God-given resources, gifts, talents and abilities to reach beyond ourselves to the benefit of others. The reminder here is that we are blessed to be a blessing; we learn to teach others; we get so that we can in turn give; life is best experienced when we seek to give back to others from the store of what we have received.
I recall being in Malawi, Africa a few years ago and having the privilege of seeing first-hand how people of such limited means – people who literally only owned the tattered clothes on their backs – were able to share in meaningful and tangible ways. Whether it was through carrying one another’s physical loads on the head, to sharing responsibilities around the home to even the little one who shared Coke bottles of brown and parasite-filled water with each other; these persons demonstrated an eager and natural willingness to avail what little they had, for the benefit of someone else.
There may be many persons in Barbados who hold the view that they are not in any position to give anything to anyone as they, themselves, are in a constant state of need. But I hope from the above account that it is realized that no matter how little our resources may seem, the vast majority of us have more than enough to give to someone else. We may not have been given great financial resources but we may have skills or knowledge that can be shared or it may just be a simple matter of giving our time to those who may need or value it most. To whom much is given, much is expected.
Leaders give back. In fact, I posit that the best leaders are those who make it a habit to seek out every opportunity to give back to their communities, to their schools and even to their country. I would argue that the opposite is true leaders who hoard their knowledge, talents, time and finances are typically going to be the most overall ineffective leaders we will encounter.
Within the workplace, leaders generally have more resources at their disposal than the average worker in the company; whether it be in terms of flexibility in time, expansiveness of network and, of course, wider financial scope. Therefore, the responsibility lies with us to ensure that we are setting a positive example for our followers through actively seeking out and capitalizing on every opportunity to give back. Maybe you have the time and knowledge to hold a small summer school or camp at your home – why not do it? Maybe you have the fiscal space to purchase much-needed supplies for some of the several children’s homes or elderly care facilities across the island – why not do it? Maybe your skills and talents could support the effective operation of a charity or non-profit organization – why not play your part? As leaders and as citizens in general, we need to recognize that we have been given much, and it is therefore incumbent upon us to ensure that we give much to others.
I challenge you to give back starting from today. Barbados will be a better place, an even more glorious place to live, do business and recreate when all of our citizens embrace an attitude of giving back. Find a charity to support, find a cause to get on board with and let’s improve each other’s lot by simply giving to one another.
(Davidson Ishmael holds a MBA in Leadership and Innovation and is an operations manager in the financial services sector.