Shaun Groves Interview: Thoughts on Giving

Remember the song “Mamas, Don’t Let Your Babies Grow up To Be Cowboys?” I do. I was in high school when Waylon and Willie’s rendition hit #1 on the country music charts; and playing it on YouTube this week I discovered I still know all the words. I think of that song often when my teenage son speaks of being a musician. I think of that song when I see the images of young men and women in outlandish dress singing shallow lyrics of love and devotion to “him”—not Jesus Christ. I think of the warning “Don’t let ‘em pick guitars and drive them old trucks, make ‘em be doctors and lawyers and such” when I look up the websites of supposedly Christian bands whose only mention of faith is that daddy was a preacher. But my son continues to dream while I continue to search for decent role models. Discovering Shaun Groves Last summer, I found one. On A Holy Experience , I saw a video of Ann Voskamp sitting in the middle of a field on her farm interviewing this guy with funky hair, wielding a guitar. Captivated by his message, I started following him. I discovered that Shaun Groves had just released his first album in 5 years. In fact, since the demise of his former record label, Shaun had begun traveling and singing for Compassion International , sharing the plight of millions of children born into poverty. Third World Symphony was birthed out of a silence that stemmed from a re-evaluation of his life after visiting with a group of elders and church leaders in Ethiopia. Already a Compassion sponsor, I kept reading. Shaun’s website says, “After El Salvador, Shaun and his family began to live more simply, so they could afford to help others simply live.” I wanted to know what he meant by that; because for me to live simply means that we shop at Goodwill and don’t buy paper towels, we eat beans more than meat and drive cars pushing 300,000 miles. I truly wanted to know what “live more simply” means to the “rich and famous.” So I asked for an interview. And he agreed. Our Interview This week I met up with the six-time Dove award nominee at a university campus near our home. When I asked Shaun to define “live more simply,” he said he didn’t want to give the impression that they “live simply” but that they live more simply than they did before . The Groves started their journey with cutting the cable, and it was hard. He said that he needed that baby step to know that he could do it. They have taken many more baby steps since. But the giant of a “Mother-May-I” kind of step was when Shaun removed his focus from being frugal and placed his focus on being satisfied with his relationship with Jesus. When he quit dividing every expenditure by 38—the monthly dollar amount for sponsoring a child through Compassion—and simply gave , he found freedom.  “Going after frugality,” he said, “is like the Pharisee trying to clean up the outside of the cup. I needed to focus on my relationship with Christ so that I could be true on the inside.” For myself, I’ve been a staunch advocate to do as the widow in Mark 12 and give to the last mite: Verily I say unto you, that this poor widow hath cast more in, than all they which have cast into the treasury: For all they did cast in of their abundance; but she of her want did cast in all that she had, even all her living . Giving Out of Sacrifice or Abundance Yet ever since Joe Plemon wrote in a previous post “The Diminishing Value of Money, The Jerusalem Church, and You,” I’ve struggled with whether I’ve been too harsh, whether I’ve judged, and whether I’ve held to task those that don’t live the way I do. So I asked Shaun if he felt it more appropriate to give out of one’s abundance or to give sacrificially— even all of our living . He responded that a person needs to have discernment to decide what is enough. “ Personally,” he said, “I want to hold everything loosely, because it doesn’t belong to me.” Ironically, he pointed me to the same scriptures Joe Plemon used to explain that I don’t want my child to go hungry so that I can feed someone else’s child. For I mean not that other men be eased, and ye burdened…as it is written, he that had gathered much had nothing over; and he that had gathered little had no lack. — 2 Cor. 8:13, 15 He defined abundance as whatever is above my daily bread. We discussed that, for some people, giving from their abundance is a sacrifice because that is where they are on their journey at this particular time in their life—and that is okay . We touched on how some people are called to sacrifice more, the missionary for example, but that doesn’t make them better than the other person. It all comes back to personal discernment and one’s relationship with Jesus. Why People Don’t Give I then asked Shaun for the #1 reason people use for not sponsoring children. He said most people say they don’t know whom to trust. Well, there are organizations that monitor ministries such as Compassion and keep them accountable. But ultimately, you have to trust somebody and you have to answer to God. My son took friends to see Shaun sing at the university coffee shop. “But,” he said, “it was more of a theology debate than a concert.” The students of this liberal seminary campus wanted to discuss Shaun’s visit there and peppered him with questions about his theology. So between songs, they discussed some basic truths of the Christian faith. He ended the evening by giving away his CD’s—Keith Green style. “If you don’t have the money right now, take it anyway.” he said, “Because these songs are about what I believe to be true about God and I don’t want a lack of money to prevent anyone from hearing that.” This mother feels a little better after meeting Shaun Groves. I’m at peace with my giving and I’m at peace with the thought that, perhaps, my son can handle being a cowboy after all. You can sponsor a child through Compassion here . You can purchase your own copy of Third World Symphony here .   Leave a comment below with your thoughts on giving. When do you give? How much giving is appropriate? Related Articles: When to say no to giving? Budgeting for giving Should You Have a Giving Fund? How Giving is a Spiritual Discipline

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Shaun Groves Interview: Thoughts on Giving

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