It’s Christmas season and we’ve likely been inundated with many opportunities to give to those in need. From church to the office to the school to the local grocery store collecting donations not to mention the ringing bell from the Salvation Army Santa, we’ve been presented with many options to be merciful.

There are some of us who do nothing. We tell ourselves we give other ways, we are generous to those in our family or church and that’s enough. But then there are some of us who feel the need to do everything. Say yes to everyone, give something to everyone. Our hearts bleed for everyone and after a few weeks of trying to meet everyone’s need we either run out of money or run out of mercy.

So before you master your “I gave at the office” speech, here are 5 ways to keep from getting giving fatigue and letting mercy turn into frustration:

1. Give the gift of interest.

When it is meeting someone’s need on the street, stop and ask them how they are doing? What’s their story? What’s their biggest need? How can you pray for them? Finding out the story behind the cardboard sign can be a gift they rarely get to share.

2. Give the gift of predetermined change.

You know that jar of change you keep near the dryer to put loose change? What about that ashtray full of coins? Collect it all and let your kids and yourself use it every time you come and go from a store. That way you are still participating without feeling compelled to hit the ATM.

3. Give the gift later.

So many of these organizations are so good and so worthwhile that you want to help, but might not be able to this December. So collect their information and make a point to do something in February. They always need support, and giving in an off season is always a treat for them.

4. Make a list of all who’ve been gracious to you.

Start with Jesus and then move down from there; your family, your boss, your neighbor. Seeing how merciful others have been to you can be motiving for you to extend grace to others.

5. Give the gift of forgiveness.

While this is the least expensive, it can be the most difficult, but letting go of that grudge or grievance you’ve held onto for the past year, or years, can do more than cure fatigue–it can be life giving to you and the other person. Send a Christmas card and share your well wishes. It will cost you nothing, but give you everything.

Justice. Mercy. Humility. The three steps to following Jesus and the three ways to make the holiday better this year.

For more, check out my new book coming out called Justice. Mercy. Humility: A Simple Path to Following Jesus. There is still time to join the launch team and receive a free, advanced copy.

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