Milk and Honey Magazine author interview with Stephanie Jones about the importance for young women to give/love in a Christ-like way!

The Giving Challenge

M&H Staff

Leaving an extra tip for the waitress, bringing cookies for the office, volunteering at a local church, donating clothes to a shelter, writing a letter to a relative, buying coffee for a friend, promoting a friend's blog...

...the list of kind things we can do is endless! Author Stephanie Jones decided to be intentional about giving, volunteering, and loving - for 500 days straight! Her book, The Giving Challenge, describes how those 500 days changed her life. She now lives everyday with eyes that are OTHERS focused, similar to Christ!

Her 'Giving Challenge' provides a simple challenge for a richer rife. Who doesn't want a slice of that?!

Let's chat with Stephanie about how WE can give! 

Milk and Honey Magazine author interview with Stephanie Jones about the importance for young women to give/love in a Christ-like way!

Story behind the Giving Challenge?

January 1, 2011 I set a goal to give a gift every day for a month. And these didn’t have to be extravagant gifts or take a lot of time or money. My definition of a gift was to give something and expect nothing in return. One month turned into three months, then six, then a year and I ended up giving a gift every day for 522 days. My giving journey changed my life, and I compiled some of my favorite gifts in my book, The Giving Challenge, which challenges people to go on their own giving journey for 40 days.

How can we give more?

I’m not focused on more as I am creating a lifestyle of giving. I think sometimes we think more is better. But more often leads to exhaustion and giving too much of ourselves. I’m a big fan of simple gifts. Smiling at everyone that crosses my path, going up to strangers and asking, “may I give you a hug?,” sending encouraging texts to someone I haven’t connected with in a while, picking up a pen, grabbing a notecard and writing a thank you to someone that has made a difference in my life, baking cupcakes for the neighbors, especially the ones I don’t know. The opportunities are endless.

Advice for your 20-year-old self to be more giving?

Give to yourself first. Take care of you. Don’t put others needs and time above your own. I’m a recovering workaholic, especially in my twenties, and my giving journey taught me that when I give to myself, I’m can give more to others. I’m happier. I’m rested. I give with a positive attitude. I have the energy to give and help others. Find what you love and make time for you. I love bubble baths, reading, running, writing, and naps. And even though I’m in management for a Fortune 100 company and run my own business, I find time to do what I love every week.

What does giving truly mean?

Give and expect nothing in return. I’ll take this to the basic level of giving. Before my giving journey, if I smiled at a stranger, I expected them to smile back. If I held the door for someone, I expected them to say thank you. If I gave a wedding gift, I expected a written thank you note. If I didn’t receive the response I wanted I’d get annoyed and frustrated.

Once I stripped the expectation away, that is when I started to see change in my life. Do you know how much energy expectations takes up in our life and strips us of our happiness? When I let go of expectations and changed my definition of gift, that’s when I saw blessings flow in all areas of my life.

If you set out each day to give to someone, maybe a family member, friend or stranger, you will find opportunities. If not, say a pray and ask God to give you and opportunity. You might not like what he gives, but he will provide. I saw it over and over in my journey and many times the giving was uncomfortable and stretched me, but in a good way

Milk and Honey Magazine author interview with Stephanie Jones about the importance for young women to give/love in a Christ-like way!

Favorite way to give?

I have two favorite ways to give. One for people I know and one for strangers. For the people I know, I pay attention and listen. When I do this, I find people will mention things they love, needs in their life, or something they want. For example, one of my friends mentioned they had an essential oil diffuser but lost the cord. I went on Amazon, found and ordered a cord, and then created a care package of the cord, my favorite oils and blending recipes. This wasn’t for a holiday but just an “I’m thinking of you gift.” The just because gifts are my favorite!

For strangers, I love seeing a need and asking if I can help. For example, I travel a lot and I can spot a first time traveler a mile away. As I was checking my bag I overheard the lady next to me asking a million a questions. She had a baby, luggage she was carrying on the flight and was frazzled. I offered to help with luggage and get her to her gate. I helped her through security and when I introduced her to the gate agent she said, “You are my angel, thank you so much.”

Advice for young women struggling to find their place?

Be patience. Realize the job you have now or where you are in life doesn’t mean that’s where you’ll stay. In college I hated writing and grammar. I had a dream to be a profiler for the FBI. God had other plans and now I not only work for Cisco, one of the largest technology companies, but I’m an author, speaker and life coach. At 39, I discovered I’m dyslexic. No wonder I hated writing. But God doesn’t see our disabilities, if we are obedient and rely on him, he’ll take your weaknesses and use them for His glory. Work hard, do things that are uncomfortable and trust that God is leading you down the right path.

Favorite Bible verse?

Proverbs 3:5-6: Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.

Stephanie L. Jones is the author of the best-selling book, endorsed by Dave Ramsey, The Giving Challenge: 40 Days to a More Generous Life. She is an inspirational speaker and life coach who empowers people to change their life by giving and living intentionally. Connect with Stephanie at or on or IG/Twitter @Giving_Gal