Situation: Aren’t there other ways to be generous?
One of the most common questions we receive after a Journey of Generosity is “In addition to money, how else can I be generous?” We’ve received this question from China, Hong Kong, India, and Romania. Here’s what some JOG alumni have written to us:
Can I be generous in other ways instead?
- “How else can I give? I definitely want to make an impact in someone’s life, beyond financial generosity.”
- “In addition to money, what other ways of giving? How to better contribute something other than money?”
- “When is it not advisable to be financially generous? Can I be generous in other ways instead?”
- “I really hope that I can contribute generously. Because I have not been a good steward, I made bad investments, which failed. I need to repay those debts. How can I live a rich life?”
Our founder, Daryl Heald, offers his thoughts.
Scripture: Look for every opportunity to be generous
Ephesians 5:15-16a says, “Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity….”
Daryl shared a few ways that, in pursuing generosity, we can make the most of every opportunity.
Steps: Look at your heart, look at generous lives, and look for opportunities
1. Examine Your Heart.
“I still think financial generosity is the hardest part.”
Some givers are genuinely being as generous as they can financially. But many who could be much, much more generous tend to use “other ways to be generous” as a distraction so that they can don’t need to give financially. It can be a smoke screen. “I’m always skeptical when people say, ‘I get the financial generosity side,’” says Daryl. “I still think financial generosity is the hardest part. The reason many people say ‘There are other ways to be generous’ is that financial generosity presses us all on the most sensitive side.”
When we give, we are taking a step of faith—we are trusting that God will provide more. People seem more confident that God will give them more time or more talent. But they’re nervous about whether God will actually provide treasure. Daryl says, “We don’t feel as insecure giving our time as giving our money.”
2. Be Clear on What You Are Giving Financially.
“We can be tricked into thinking that we’re being more generous than we actually are.”
When someone says that they are already being financially generous, Daryl asks, “What does that looks like in your life right now? Do you know about how much you’ve given over the last year, over the last three years? Or tell me a couple of gifts that have brought you a lot of joy in the last six months.”
Daryl’s found that many people just don’t know, or they struggle with these kinds of questions. “We all need to be aware of this, because we can be tricked into thinking that we’re being more generous than we actually are. I don’t ask that to be cheeky. I was just taking people literally when they said they were ‘already financially generous.’ Then I realized that many people with good intentions actually think they are being generous, but just aren’t self-aware. We never want to judge anyone,” says Daryl, “but we all need to be self-aware about this.”
3. Look to Generous People as Models.
“These people end up being generous in every way.”
“Any of our friends that we love and admire who are very intentional on this journey,” says Daryl, “have no problem telling you about the joy they’ve experienced from recent gifts they’ve made. They’re excited to tell you. Generosity has become central for them. These people end up being generous in every way.
I’ve never heard those kinds of people switch their focus away from financial generosity. Now, it also is very evident that they are giving in all the other different dimensions – time, talent, influence, friendships and so on.”
4. Watch for the Opportunities God Gives You.
Daryl tells about something he learned from the late entrepreneur Paul J. Meyer. Daryl had taken a group of givers to meet with Paul. Paul had started more than 30 successful companies. He had three personal assistants just to keep up with all his activity.
Paul said, “Guys, let me tell you something that I learned when I was 60; I wish I would have learned it when I was 30. Here it is: ‘Every day, God gives you opportunities. Do you have eyes to see them and ears to hear them? And do you have the courage and faith to do what God is asking you to do?’”
“Every day, God gives you opportunities. Do you have eyes to see them and ears to hear them? And do you have the courage and faith to do what God is asking you to do?” — Paul J. Meyer
“That concept really shifted my generosity,” says Daryl. “Paul would then launch into story after story of small opportunities that God gave him.” In one story, Paul was driving to work and saw a beggar asking for money. Paul took the opportunity to engage the beggar, asking him what his dreams were. “I’ve always wanted to be a lawyer,” the beggar said. Paul hired him into one of his companies, helped him through law school, and he went on to be a successful lawyer in Dallas.
“And he had story after story like that,” says Daryl. “I’m talking about developing spiritual eyes and ears. What had God given you spiritual vision for? It doesn’t have to be significant. The whole idea is, does generosity become who we are everyday? Where people say, ‘Thanks for taking so much time to be with me.’ On each decision, we need to discern, ‘Is this what God’s asking me to do?’ Paul is busier than I’ll ever be, but he would stop when he sensed God giving him an opportunity. They weren’t obligations; they were opportunities. We may have plans, but God is orchestrating things. We need to recognize when our lives intersect with an opportunity He’s given us in His sovereignty.”