Hopefully the last two entries in this series have demonstrated that generosity isn’t necessarily about money. It’s about so much more, including our overall approach to life.
But to risk sounding too vague about what is and what is not generosity, we’ve developed 10 simple ways we can practice generosity every day.
Some of them may not be a match to our specific lifestyle, while others might be the perfect match. The key is not adopting all of these—or even most of them. The key is to adopt one or two or three where you can devote your time and energy.
And, while you’re at it, bring along your family members and friends!
A. Give away 10% (tithe)
Alright, this one is obvious. And whether you adhere to tithing or to a “first fruits” discipline, it’s important to honor God—and demonstrate generosity—through our giving.
From a practical standpoint, this can be difficult—as financial obligations can sometimes sweep away our resources. However, there are numerous books and sermons you can consume to get some good ideas on where and how to start—if you aren’t doing this already.
The important thing to remember is to keep God in mind as the owner of our material wealth. It is on loan to us as we journey together. How we spend and treat those resources reflects our relationship with God.
B. Commit to a budget
“Budget” might not be a four-letter word, but to some of us it almost seems like it. Budgeting is difficult, as it requires commitment, discipline and a willingness to see things long term.
And, just as there are different types of budgets, there are numerous ways to budget. People like Dave Ramsey offer tips and plans for saving and getting your finances in order.
For our purposes, budgeting is a means to an end. Not just the end of meeting our financial obligations, though that’s important. Adopting a budget and adhering to it allows us to give more freely—live generously—with what we save.
Budgeting is never easy, and maybe that’s the intent. However, by utilizing at least some budgeting measures in our lives, we can love with more generosity through how much we save.
C. Create a generosity goal (family goal)
Many families save money for things like vacations, big-ticket items or sponsoring a child in need.
These are all good examples of developing a financial goal and then working to meet it. When it comes to generosity, think of creative ways to involve the entire family—or workplace, team, group of friends—in a generosity goal.
You can make it fun, almost like a game. Can we save a certain amount to help a family in need? Can we collect items to support our local food pantry, not only for a day or a week, but maybe for an entire month?!
Can we organize a clean-up day in our neighborhood where we help those struggling with outdoor projects?
Working together builds a coalition of generosity.
The ideas are only limited by your creativity! Make it fun, laugh, grow closer … and most of all, demonstrate generosity.
D. Allow room for God to work
How often do we rush forward with our agenda and when we’re done, check it off the master list of accomplishments? In our rush-to-the-next-thing world, it’s increasingly easy to focus solely on our human abilities and resources and forget about God.
While implementing a lifestyle of generosity, it’s important we don’t forget about prayer and watching God work. A commitment to generosity also means a commitment to prayer—knowing that God hears our prayers and knows our hearts.
Praying regularly for someone is one of the most generous acts we can commit. A regular time of prayer for that someone in your life who needs encouragement, or for that ministry at your church that needs to get off the ground, or that co-worker who is obviously struggling with something, but we just don’t know what.
That’s generosity—bringing these needs to the One who can meet them: today, tomorrow, for eternity.
E. Push your comfort zone (give a little extra when you can)
This one is often easier said than done. It’s much easier to set a course of action you know you can complete than it is to set that course of action a little outside your comfort zone.
However, blessing often comes in times of faith and trust.
When you are passionate about something and feel as if God has specifically placed it on your heart, pushing your comfort zone comes a bit easier. If you know you are to lead the charge in organizing your church food pantry, then it’s more palatable to set your goals a bit higher.
But it’s also about allowing God to make His presence known. If you know God is involved, then creating that space—that little extra—allows God to demonstrate His love and care beyond our human resources.
F. Automate your generosity (it’s easier, and you’re more likely to do it)
This isn’t for everyone, but if you’re so inclined, automating some of your charitable giving is a great way to ensure your commitment long term.
On the one hand, when you don’t see your money, there is no temptation to spend it. A portion automatically goes to your church or the nonprofit you support or overseas ministry.
Once you get set-up, you can change your monthly giving—increasing or decreasing it—if your financial situation changes.
Automating your generosity doesn’t mean there is no personal connection; it just means your generosity is placed on a regular donation schedule.
Consider this approach if you need help getting and staying on a generosity schedule.
G. Remember, it’s God’s money, not yours
If we truly believe that all we have is from God, then that helps us think through how to demonstrate generosity. We’re not necessarily picking randomly where and how much we should give or how or where to donate our time and energy.
If we are walking with Christ, He will place on our hearts the ministries, movements, people or projects in which He wants us to invest—financially and/or personally.
His guiding hand should be the driving force that advances our generosity.
Some might think this is constricting; however, if you really think about it, it’s freeing. They are God’s resources, and He is directing us as to how to invest them with our lives.
H. Pick a mission (group, church, campaign, etc.)
One of the ways to streamline your generosity is through partnering with certain groups, campaigns, ministries, etc. If God has led us to demonstrate generosity to a campaign or ministry, then our hearts will beat for impact.
Receiving regular updates on the impact of your generosity will also alert us to new possibilities and new avenues of help. Many nonprofit organizations give you the opportunity to support specific programs within their organization. Let God guide your decisions on where your support should go.
There’s also a rallying spirit that accompanies partnering with an organization through your generosity. You—and other partners—play a critical role in helping others. Or, by demonstrating generosity.
I. Team up with others
As with a lot of things in life, we can go it alone or we can team up with others. If we go it alone, we will still have an impact, but it can be even greater when we team up with others.
That nonprofit in your neighborhood would love to see three or four people commit together to supporting its mission. They certainly would love individual support as well. However, when generosity is combined, it’s like a snowball rolling down a hill.
This can be as easy as asking a few friends or neighbors to partner with you. Maybe you’ll get one person to join you, or maybe you’ll inspire an entire neighborhood to support that good thing going on a few blocks away.
J. Celebrate with wins (internally, not boastfully)
Make sure you set aside time to celebrate “wins” and even to commemorate times of struggle. These times of celebration are a reminder that God has allowed us to demonstrate generosity to others. It’s also a good opportunity to celebrate good news from those who experience generosity.
We don’t have to limit our celebrations to just good news. Even when those we’re helping are struggling, we can pause to celebrate God’s goodness, His care for us, and for our ability to demonstrate generosity.
It’s a blessing that God allows us to participate with Him in His plans for our world. It might be in small ways or through impactful events. Nevertheless, we’re His partners in the work He is doing. We should celebrate, commemorate, and honor that.