What do you think of when you hear the word generosity? Do you think of money? Do you think of someone writing a check to a charity or giving a few bucks from their wallet to someone in need?
That’s probably what most of us think of when it comes to generosity. And that’s certainly correct and accurate in many instances.
What Is Generosity?
However, if we look at generosity from a broader perspective, it incorporates not only being self-sacrificial with our finances, but also with our time, energy and relationships.
When we think about it, some of the most important and compelling experiences in our lives were the result of someone demonstrating generosity to us. A spouse, friend, co-worker, pastor or maybe even a stranger. It wasn’t necessarily their monetary generosity but their personal generosity that made an impact.
Corrie Ten Boom summed up this sentiment well: “The measure of a life, after all, is not its duration, but its donation.”
If we want to measure our lives more in terms of a “donation” than its “duration,” here are a few tips to help us on this journey:
1. Why Should I Volunteer?
This can be challenging as our lives have become more complex and busier. Yet it’s a significant way to demonstrate generosity. Volunteering can take place in a variety of settings and in numerous ways … from a few hours a month to several days a week.
Your church home is a good place to start. Local nonprofits or the public library or a ministry whose mission resonates with you are also wonderful opportunities to explore. It also doesn’t have to be formal. You can show up for a few hours a month at your friend’s business and help her out with things that need to get completed.
Regardless of how often or where you do it, volunteering is a great “donation” in your life … and in the lives of those impacted by your efforts. It's also a wonderful example of living generously.
2. Why Should I Mentor Someone?
The idea of mentorship can seem scary as first. You might wonder if you have anything to offer another person or if anyone would even be interested in what you have to offer. But in both cases, the answer is in the affirmative. Everyone has skills, experiences and understandings that are needed and wanted by others, and there are people eager to learn from others.
It could be someone at work or a new member at your church or even a neighbor. You have spiritual, life and professional experiences that no one else has.
Mentoring can take many forms as well, including regular meetings, casual coffee get-togethers, scheduled 15-minute conversations or even having someone observe you over time in a certain role.
Serving as a mentor—in an informal or formal manner—can make a lasting impact on someone’s life and is another example of living generously.
3. Why Should I Listen?
This may seem like an odd thing in terms of generosity. But if you think about it, what’s more generous than intently and compassionately listening? It’s an active endeavor on your part to demonstrate generosity by understanding another person’s needs, fears, struggles, aspirations and joys.
A quick look at the Gospels gives us numerous examples of Jesus listening to the concerns of others. And James 1:19 encourages us to “be quick to listen ….”
It’s not always as easy to accomplish as we would like, but reminding ourselves of the power and impact of listening is another way we can make a “donation” with our lives.
These are just three examples of living generously. With a little thoughtful purpose, I’m sure you can develop numerous other examples.
For more information on generosity, check out our 3-part blog series on generosity.
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