I have been wanting to blog on generosity for a while now, because it’s something that doesn’t come easy to me. Not because I hoard my riches, but because 5 mins of my time means I miss a deadline and $5 of my money means a jug of milk.
When you are a big family on one income, like we are, time, money, energy and resources are thin, so sacrificial generosity can be painful.
THEN, I became a
victim of my friend’s generosity. 8 months pregnant, with 3 young kids, on one income, bringing me meals, just cause. Or dropping off baking, just cause, or treating my husband and I to a date night, just cause.
Her ‘just cause’ generosity really blessed me, and began to challenge me in return. I really want my family to start focusing on generosity as a central theme to who we are….. but I don’t want to bore you with my ramblings, because who better to teach us about generosity than my ‘just cause’ friend Steph Hazel!
“A canopy bed…or maybe a mansion with a pool or a hot tub!”
That was the response from my seven year old daughter when I asked her what she would do if someone suddenly handed her a million dollars. This week, the lottery is up to forty million dollars – $40,000,000.00 PEOPLE!
As I write this, I can hear my husband’s voice booming in my head, “The lottery is a tax on the poor!” – Yeah, yeah, yeah, I get it. The odds of winning are slim. But if you are anything like me, hearing that forty million dollars are up for grabs sounds incredibly enticing! Oh the things I could do with that money! And while a canopy bed isn’t the first thing that comes to mind, it has definitely been added to the list.
Now, I’m guessing you’ve already taken a second to do this, but if you haven’t, sit back and ask yourself this question:
What would I do if I won the lottery?
My husband and I play this game often – even though buying the actual ticket rarely happens. It’s amazing how generous we become when there are no limits to our finances. Isn’t it so much easier to be giving when you have so much to give? Generosity is a hard concept to grasp sometimes, especially if your bank account looks like mine. I don’t know about you, but I’m not likely to win the lottery any time soon. So, aside from buying all of your friends new vehicles and paying off your parents’ mortgage (which you would TOTALLY do!) here are some ways you can be more generous this year.
- Be generous with your time. Being a parent, I have found that the thing I hold most dear is the time I get to spend with the people I love most. When I don’t carve out time to read with my kids, have coffee with my husband, or stop and chat with a friend, it just won’t happen. My last pregnancy left me on nine full months of modified bed rest which was incredibly isolating and terribly depressing. I would go days without leaving the couch, my kids would begin to grow restless, and the walls would start closing in. I found that while I could not offer much of myself to my family in the ways that I usually showed love, I could always give them my time. I spent hours upon hours reading stories, painting nails, building legos – and in turn, I realised what a valuable gift my time really was. Time is a precious commodity, spend it on people who value it for what it’s worth.
- Be generous with your talents. My friend Liesa is extremely generous with her talents. She has a way of turning one chicken breast into a meal fit for a King and his entire army. I don’t know if it’s just because cooking is not a talent of mine – but MAN can this girl cook! Whether she whips something up last minute or spends the whole day slaving away in a hot kitchen – she always seems to have something up her sleeve. I happen to be the lucky girl who lives right next door so I get to taste the generosity of her talents often. During my pregnancy, I would often hear a knock at my door and my sweet friend and her little brood of children would march into our home with trays of steaming food and chilled desserts. I know she would never consider her talents worthy of praise, but some days those meals were the only thing that kept me going. Never underestimate the generosity of something that comes easy to you.
- Be generous with your possessions. Now, this is a tricky one for most of us. We work hard for the things we buy. We want them to stay clean, working, and in perfect order. We are taught to keep our walls beige so that we can resell our homes, and we join swap and buy pages on facebook so we can sell the things we should be donating. We live in a world where we are so jealous with our possessions that we forget to be generous with them first. When my husband and I were dating, friends of ours (who are MUCH older and wiser *wink wink*) gave us a vehicle. They didn’t sell it to us (although that’s what they like to tell people), they just GAVE it to us. Now, they could have sold it. We could have arranged a payment plan. But, they chose to GIVE it to us. What would happen if the next thing you decided to sell – you gave instead? A car? A bag of clothing? Imagine what would happen to a jealous world if we began to value giving over having.
- Be generous with your finances. No, not the forty million you are planning on winning this week, but with the forty dollars that has to carry your family until payday. Can I give you some crazy advice? When you feel like you have nothing to be generous with – find something to give. Crazy, right? I know what you’re thinking, “Time is easy to give, talents – no problem, even some of my valuable possessions – sure, BUT FINANCES!?” Would you believe me if I told you that you don’t have to have a lot of money to be generous with it? How simple is it to buy the coffee for the person behind you in the drive thru? Super simple, pathetically simple, but when someone does that for you it’s all you can talk about. Once it happened to me and I was chattering about it for days. My coffee was a measly $1.70 but someone, a stranger even, was generous with their money and it completely turned my day around! Don’t let your limited finances keep you from blessing someone in a practical way.
Being generous can be extremely impactful, especially if it costs you so much more than a tiny chunk of your lottery winnings. So – this year, this month, even this week, challenge yourself to be more generous. Generous with the things you have, the things you have earned, and even with the things you need.
“A generous person will prosper, whoever refreshes others will be refreshed” – Proverbs 11:25 NIV
Steph is crazy busy stay-at-home mom of 4 kids who always puts her family first. She is the inventor of words like blerg, which I generally always steal for my blog, and she always has perfect hair. (I secretly hate that about her) Her and her husband Julian (who wrote a Christmas guest post for me back in December, called The 2nd Best Christmas Story ever told) are the most generous, faithful people I know, and they seriously need to start their own blog!