Avoiding the Scrooge syndrome 

Published 12:15 pm Tuesday, October 10, 2023

Charles Dickens’ beloved writing “A Christmas Carol” is a timeless Christmas classic. According to Michael Slater, Charles Dickens’ biographer, the story was penned in hopes to “…help open the hearts of the prosperous and powerful towards the poor and powerless.” 

Many of us are well familiar with the plot and characters of this story. The stingy, wealthy Ebenezer Scrooge has a heart made of granite, the attitude of an eel, and the tongue of a viper. With a mission to collect and keep as much money as possible, Scrooge has no compassion or concern for anyone, and within his own business, there is a great need. Bob Cratchit, a poor employee of Mr Scrooge, is laden with family needs; many, if not all, could be met through the help of the penny-pinching Scrooge. The story ends in a heartfelt transformation, after the ghosts of Christmas past impact Ebenezer causing him to unlock his fortune to assist Mr. Cratchit and others. 

My favorite part of this story is the enthusiastic joy and profound satisfaction that goes along with being generous. To see the change one man experienced by opening up his heart and funds to the needs and cares of others is glorious.      

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This classic is a fictional story with non-fictional truth. How many people today fit the description of Ebenezer Scrooge? Their heart is like the vault in Fort Knox; guarded, and sealed. They live a self-focused life with little or no concern for anyone else. 

Modern-day Ebenezers do not see beyond their own world. The needs of others, while visible, are ignored. If something is not directly related to their immediate gratification or agenda, it is of no importance.        

Unlike A Christmas Carol, a person does not have to be wealthy to fit the mold of a Scrooge. There are Scrooges in every area of life; wealthy Scrooges, middle-class Scrooges and even lower-income Scrooges. But there is a way to help anyone from falling prey to the Scrooge syndrome.         

While each of us must be mindful of personal needs, it is important to remember and live by the words of Jesus. The physician Luke records in Acts 20:35 Jesus saying, “It is more blessed to give than to receive.” 

Giving is kryptonite to a selfish heart. Being generous can take on many different forms and often does not require anything except time. 

How many wonderful organizations exist within Polk County that depend upon volunteers? All that is needed to assist is to have a willingness to be present and put forth energy to fulfill the tasks of that institution.        

A common excuse expressed for not giving personal time is “I’m busy.” Respectfully, people today are busy as we live life at warp speed. Our schedules are filled as we run from the time we crawl out of bed until we retire for the night. The demands of life can be consuming. This is why it is important we learn to prioritize generosity. Pencil it on the calendar so it becomes a part of your regular disciplines. Generosity should be a habit and pastime in our lives.         

One key factor that will help prioritize generosity is looking beyond self. Being blind in the heart keeps a person from seeing the conditions of others which in turn causes them to disregard their obligation to make a difference. While it is impossible for one person to meet every need, each of us must do what we can by looking outside of ourselves to see the needs in our community—and there are no shortages of needs within this county. We only need to open our eyes to see them.        

Fall is here, which means cooler temperatures, shorter days, autumn colors, pumpkin spice everything, the start of the holiday season and a time when the Scrooge syndrome can be more prominent as our calendars fill up. As we enter this year’s most wonderful time of the year, let’s avoid the Scrooge syndrome by being intentional about living a life of generosity toward others.