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  • Writer's pictureNeal Hagberg

mine, Mine, MINE!!!


Everyone wants it.  Nobody seems to have enough of it, whether you are a billionaire or someone who is struggling to pay your rent or mortgage.  It is an intoxicating drug.  I know.  My eyes get big whenever I think of winning the lottery.  And I have never even played the lottery.   But that does not stop me from thinking of winning it.  My heart shakes whenever my family is trying to make ends meet at the end of a month of unexpected bills.  It – money – sucks me into thinking of it when I least expect it.

We all have complicated relationships with money.

Money is a tool and a vehicle for good for some people.  Look at Bill and Melinda Gates or Warren Buffet, who are giving their entire fortunes away to positively change the world.

Me, I can sometimes be like Gollum in Lord of the Rings and become grotesque in my desire to keep what I have and salivate after more.  I get the ring and say, “It’s mine Mine MINE!”  And it does unhappy and destructive things with my relationships and my own soul.

Contrast this with the remarkable gift we just received towards our TLC 40-LOVE Campaign (see details on the campaign below).  An anonymous camper, who believes in the impact of our retreat camps, has pledged a $280,000 challenge gift – enough to endow an entire retreat camp bringing together kids of all races, religions, and genders to talk about changing the world’s inequities through the Three Crowns– and will match dollar for dollar any contribution given before the end of the year.  When I asked why he was giving this, he said “I have been blessed with talents that have allowed me to earn a high income. It’s not my money, it’s God’s, and I want to bless others with it.”

It does not matter what religion you do or do not profess, this is a far cry from “It’s mine, Mine, MINE!”

Another camper, when we announced this at TLC’s GVS-A-Thon (which was much more fun than should be allowed), approached me and committed $200,000 from her estate, saying, for her, TLC was a place of safety and refuge when her marriage was falling apart and her spouse treated her as though she did not matter as a human being.  She felt TLC was the one place where she could go and know she would be accepted and loved unconditionally.  (And play great tennis at the same time!).  Giving back, she said, was her way of saying thank you.

A far cry from “It’s mine, Mine, MINE!”

But, lest you think it is all about the amount, a fourteen-year-old long time family camper came to camp this summer and handed me an envelope.  When I opened the envelope later in private, out fell three twenties.   Her note thanked TLC for the impact it has made on her life and explained she was starting a dog walking business and wanted to share her profits with TLC so other kids could attend who couldn’t afford it.  Fourteen.  She is fourteen.

And so far from “mine, Mine, MINE!”

Steve and Barb Wilkinson donated TLC to Gustavus seven years ago.  It was nearly a million dollar camp.  Why would they do such a crazy thing?

Steve wrote in his book, Let Love Serve, “We are stewards of our possessions, not owners.  We are obligated to be charitable – not just from our surplus, but from everything that exceeds our needs for a modest lifestyle.”   And they lived it.

From each of these people I am learning to loosen my heart and learning how to give.  And that is the best gift ever.  For which I give thanks.  As they have taught me:  It’s not “mine, Mine, MINE!!!”

It’s “yours, Yours, YOURS!!!”

Happy Thanksgiving!

Note #1:  If you are interested in seeing how your tax deductible gift might be able to help TLC reach its $4 Million goal (we are nearly halfway there!), please click here for the brochure explaining it all or contact me at and I would love to visit more.

Note #2:  Our 40-LOVE Campaign is raising the funds to ensure the future of this mission, endow 200 scholarships and keep the facilities in top shape.  We are working to build a future of leaders who see and apply the Three Crowns philosophy to their tennis and to their lives and would not have access to it without generous people like those mentioned above.

Note #3:  We always say this, and we always will.  If you feel compelled to give to TLC’s mission, we welcome your financial support.  No gift is too large or too small.  But if you do not feel compelled, that is completely understandable.  It is not important that you give to TLC, but it is important that you give somewhere.  This world – and the culture of sports – needs us now more than ever.  Thanks!


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