I have heard people say, “If I had his talent, I would do great things.” Or, “If I was as rich as her, I would solve a lot of the world’s problems.”

Many people wrongly believe that the more you have the more good you will do. There is a mistaken perception that the more gifted a person is the more likely they are to achieve great things. On the contrary, life has taught me that generosity has very little to do with the wealth of a person and significant accomplishments are often at the hands of very ordinary people.

I am convinced that all a person needs to make a difference in the world is whatever they have. It does not matter whether it is wealth, fame, good looks, extraordinary ability, exceptional intelligence, or abundant opportunity. People with none of these can and do accomplish much good in the world.

The thing that makes the real difference is a willingness to use whatever you have, no matter how great or small. Compassion and generosity are character traits that have very little, if anything, to do with physical or financial resources.

Every day tons of donated goods are distributed to folks in need. Soup kitchens feed many hungry people because churches, businesses, civic clubs, other groups and individuals prepare and serve the meals. People pass on their gently used clothing or shop for new underwear and socks so others might have decent attire. Volunteers teach classes and help folks prepare resumes and find jobs. Compassionate people greet guests, wash clothes, and offer encouragement at homeless shelters. Doctors and nurses provide free health care for the uninsured.

John R. Moeller, Jr. summed up what I am trying to say when he describes how non-profit organizations can serve so many people. He said, “I see deep need being filled by deep compassion and generosity.”

Forbes Magazine estimates Bill Gates’ wealth at $72 billion, making him the richest man on earth. When Gates stepped down from the day to day operation of Microsoft to devote himself to charitable work he said, “With great wealth comes great responsibility.” Can you say Amen?!

It is true “to whom much is given, much is required.” But it is equally true that everyone has a responsibility to give back. Generosity is not measured in amount, but attitude.

There is a story in the Bible where people were making a big show of how much they put into the temple offering. Then a poor widow came and dropped in two of the smallest coins in circulation. Jesus said, “She gave more than everyone else combined (because) she gave all she had.” The others had given that which they would not miss but she gave what she could not afford.

The Parable of the Talents and other stories help us to understand that if you want to do good, all you need is what you have. That principle applies whether we are talking about money, time, talent, or influence. Instead of waiting until we have more before we invest in the lives of others, we need to start with what we have where we are NOW. All you need is what you have!

Jamie Jenkins