If you’ve been a pastor, missionary or other Christian worker for long, you’ve been on the receiving end of someone’s generosity. How are you growing in generosity in your own life?
I’ve been in full-time Christian ministry for 15 years, first as an urban missionary, then as a pastor in a local church, and now serving in a denominational role. I’ve been on the receiving end of a lot of generosity!
The most obvious form of generosity I’ve received is the financial support that people have given to fund my salary. But beyond that, from time to time I’ve received various gifts, meals, and even a week’s vacation at someone’s cottage.
A few years ago, the Lord impressed Matthew 10:8 upon my heart (here it is, in two versions):
“Freely you have received; freely give.” (NIV)
“You have been treated generously, so live generously.” (The Message)
As far as I can remember, I’ve always been appreciative and grateful for what I’ve received. And my wife and I have made tithing to our local church (and giving beyond the tithe to various people and ministries) a priority since we were married in 1992.
But one day when reading Matthew 10:8, I realized that it is easy to show kindness, generosity or thanks to those who have given to me, or those who are my friends. But what about being generous to people I don’t know, or those who cannot give back?
I sensed God calling me to be on the look-out for the “little people” in the minds of the world, the men and women who work hard but probably don’t get a lot of appreciation or thanks (or much pay) for what they do. People like:
- Hotel housekeepers
- Restaurant wait staff
So, one of my life missions is to “share the love” by giving a genuine word of thanks to these people when I see them, to thank them for the work they do, and sometimes even give them a monetary blessing as a gift from God to them.
Restaurant wait staff are already accustomed to receiving tips of 15-20%, but I like to leave 25% on average, along with some encouragement for their day.
For hotel housekeepers who clean my room (I travel a lot), I leave a few dollars each morning, and a note of thanks for the work they do. Often, they write a note of thanks back to me too.
And I’ve just started leaving a tip for the hotel attendant who gets up early to prepare the free breakfast in the hotel lobby. I don’t know why I’ve never thought of tipping them before…I guess it’s because I don’t pay directly for the meal.
I see a lot of janitors and custodians in airports, malls, etc., so I thank them for keeping things looking great, and sometimes I carry $1 coins to give them as a token of appreciation.
I just heard that one of my acquaintances keeps a $50 bill folded up in his wallet just in case the Lord directs him to give it to someone in need. He feels that it is his job to be prepared and available to give, so that when the Lord tells him to act, He can respond immediately. I really like that idea and I’ve decided to do the same thing.
My kids have started to notice and pick-up on my growing generosity. And when they ask me why I do it, I tell them that it’s another way, and a very simple way, for me to share the love. And I figure that if Jesus were here, he’d be doing the same.
I’m hopeful that if I can be faithful in generosity over these “little things,” God will feel that He can trust me with even greater things.
What about you? How are you growing in generosity in your own life? What things help you to be more generous?