Last year was a terrible year for me, financially. That was confirmed for me last night as I finally finished my income tax extension. I knew it was a bad year. Many clients had either stopped coming for massage all together, or had told me that, due to their own rotten financial circumstances, they were going to have to cut back and extend the time between their appointments. People weren't buying as many gift certificates for their friends and family. In short, I could tell that my business was taking a hit due to the economy.
But there was a small group of people who had kept my practice alive by being regular clients. They were both male and female, able-bodied and disabled, but all with a common feeling that massage had helped them keep going and being capable of handling what life might throw their way. They came, in some cases, despite fears of cutbacks at their jobs. Massage was too important to give up. As I looked at my books around Christmas time, I recognized that these clients had been very kind to me by trusting their bodies to my care.
"I should reward these folks because they have been good to me," I thought.
And so, I pulled out my gift certificates, and to those clients who had seen me at least 10 times during the year, I sent them a gift certificate with a note that thanked them for their patronage, and gave them a one-hour massage that they could either keep for themselves, or pass it on to someone else who they thought might need the same care they received.
And then I waited.
The next time I saw most of these clients, they were beaming.
"I opened your card and I thought, 'Oh, wow!'" said one.
They came to their next appointment, chipper with their gift certificate, and proclaimed it a gift to themselves after spending on family at Christmas. Still others shared with me how they were gleefully giving the certificate to a friend or a co-worker. Their happiness at receiving a reward for their faithfulness to massage was well worth the sacrifice that I was making of basically giving away one-hour massages.
And, like in most parables of this nature, the reward has come to me this year. Many of those who received that free gift certificate have either referred a friend, or have increased the frequency of their visits. As a result, I can see that 2010 is on track to being a better year for me than before. By giving away, I have received many-fold more than I had before.
This is a good thing to keep in mind as many churches launch into their stewardship campaigns. The sacrifice of giving away freely what you have to give does come back to you. And it comes back with glee and gratitude. And what a gift that is!