Seven Lessons Learned in Bed about Generosity
As a small boy, late at night I recall overhearing my mom and dad have intense discussions, that at first seemed like arguments. As I listened more closely from my bed, I discovered that they were discussing about whether or not they would tithe during months when they had little income as poor farmers. Each time, my parents would end up writing checks to the church and other organizations they cared about first, and then paying their other bills.
This was a lesson that went deep into my soul. No matter how little was in the bank account, giving to their church and other important causes always came first. They were also amazingly generous as they volunteered on boards, committees and doing kind things for neighbors in need. What follows are some important lessons learned about generosity over time.
- Regardless of how little we had, there was always enough when we prioritized by putting others and our faith first.
- Gifts matter…regardless of size or type for the receiver.
- It’s humbling to see the results of gifts given, regardless of size or type.
- It’s deeply fulfilling to be generous, to live “open-handed,” and learn over time that God will bless both the giver and the receiver.
- Generosity is a spiritual gift, and somewhat like a muscle that develops…the more I use it the stronger it gets.
- My willingness to become more generous over time has transformed my heart. I believe that the world, with all its problems, is also one of amazing abundance, where resources abound…most just waiting to be unearthed.
- I have confidence and trust that giving, whether time, ideas or money, will never be missed by me. To the contrary, generosity is always the right decision. The world is not a “zero-sum game” as some people seem to believe.
To say that this year has been challenging is a gross understatement. Many friends and family have lost jobs. Many have been ill from COVID-19. I know people who’ve died of COVID and their families are grieving their loss. I know those who’ve been treated with hate and disrespect because their skin is brown or black. And all of these issues will rage on in our society. And I intentionally write “I” because this is not some abstract “those people” kind of situation.
In stark contrast, I am sitting next to my fireplace watching the snow fall. I am healthy. I love my work which keeps me busy and pays me adequately. I live a very comfortable lifestyle, and barring some catastrophe will continue to do so. Outside of feeling isolated and having to wear a mask every time I go out the door, my life is infinitely easy compared to those I just mentioned.
So…what should I do about this situation? Two important things:
First, I’m going to figure out how to be more generous yet this year, and commit to being more generous with the resources God has blessed me with next year.
Second, I’m encouraging you and asking you to do the same. What can you do with your blessings, beyond what you already have this year, to make a difference in a world that is desperately in need of help?
I know that most of you reading this are generous people, and at the same time have the capacity (not all of course) to do much more. So, I’m inviting you to join me today to do just that, and in the future. Let’s live together with a spirit of joyous and generous abundance.
1 John 3:18 – “…let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.”
2 Corinthians 9:7 – “Each of you should decide what is in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.”
If you need some assistance finding a reputable nonprofit to share your blessings, here are a few that I know are doing excellent work: Dynamis Ministries – a new organization that is all about helping others be wise in sharing their resources. Lutheran Summer Music – an excellent four-week music academy based in faith and community. Maywood Fine Arts – assisting nearly 1,000 urban kids a week develop their performing arts skills. Housing Forward – helping the homeless get from crisis to stability.
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Many of these blog entries are edited excerpts from Tender Lions: Building the Vital Relationship Between Father and Son
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