Around the holidays, we are often reminded of the value of living with gratefulness and thanksgiving in our hearts. However, in the busyness of the season, it is so easy to get sidetracked from this mission. Even more so, we lose sight of the fact that our thankfulness for all of the blessings we have received in our lives should compel us to live with open hearts and hands. After all, gratitude and love are the birthplace for generosity.
Guest writer, Dave Webb, shares with us 3 ways to continue to cultivate generosity, not just as a seasonal attribute, but as a lifestyle.
BE GENEROUS WITH YOUR TIME
When I was asked to write this blog, my response was “sure I’ll do it, but if you don’t hear anything from me by next week, shoot me an email to remind me.” I then put this task on my intermediate “to do” list. Sure enough, next week came, followed by the reminder email since clearly I didn’t have time to get to it! Like many, I struggle with multitasking and keeping up with my many responsibilities. I regularly lament how technology demands quick responses these days. It all can be overwhelming, and sometimes I want to stop and recoil. It’s hard, but you have to somehow plan out your time well and try not to get too frustrated if a short term emergency derails your best intentions. We were not put on this earth to be selfish with our time; we all should seek out others and connect with friends and strangers alike. We should try our best to honor our commitments to others. More times than not, you will be rewarded. Probably the best memories I have had in the last 20 years came from the extra time I dedicated to volunteering as a Coach or Scout Leader and through this work at Saint Luke, interacted with others in our community. Your time is a precious gift. Live generously.
BE GENEROUS WITH YOUR TALENTS
Don’t think you have to be the best or most proficient at any skill to share it. Your talent can be as simple helping out a neighbor who could use a hand. Admittedly, I watch a lot of HGTV, yet I acknowledge that my carpentry skills are quite modest. Yet, for the third time in my life, I will be taking a week this summer to volunteer for the Appalachia Service Project (“ASP”), an outstanding non-profit organization which empowers youth and adults to make homes safer, warmer and drier for disadvantaged people in Appalachia. I can’t tell you how satisfying my previous experiences at ASP have been to my soul when I turn off my phone (fortunately cell service is very spotty in those communities), extract myself away from my stressful job and my highly privileged community, and work alongside friends from my church community to help those in substantial need. The genuine human appreciation received from a homeowner who received new drywall or insulation that they could not afford is both humbling and gratifying. Step outside your comfort zone and try new experiences in service to others. Trust me, you will be rewarded a hundred-fold. Your talents have value. Live generously.
BE GENEROUS WITH YOUR TREASURE
We live in community of nice things. Many of us don’t think twice about the cost of a monthly gym membership, the periodic dues for a Youth Sports Team and Swim/Golf Club or the monthly payment of buying or leasing a new car. Many of these types of activities give us personal pleasure. However, shouldn’t we all consider budgeting a thoughtful amount of our financial resources outside our personal needs toward organizations that promote services for those in need? Yes, I’m talking about your local Church. They do their work every day. Their doors are always open and they don’t charge a fee to join. They rely on free-will donations from those who recognize the importance of their work in our community, our nation and our world. While I sometimes hate being beholden to technology in my everyday life, I so appreciate making automatic electronic contribution every month to my Church. Much like paying our monthly electric bill which is a necessary expense to keep our home operating, our monthly gift to our Church is our family’s “Good Will to Others” expense that is necessary to help others throughout our world. I take great comfort knowing that I am regularly helping the Church do its important work every day, even if I’m not able to attend Worship every week. I also like the fact that beyond my monthly gifts, I can make extra gifts for special events or missions as they arise and can even consider gifting appreciated investments during a strong stock market (thus avoiding capital gains taxation along with the charitable gift deductions; a complete win/win situation!). Your treasure, big or small, matters. Live generously.
Lord, help us to live generously both this holiday season, and always. May we reflect your giving heart to those around us. May we contribute to your work in the world. May we experience your blessing and pleasure as we live with open, grateful, and generous hearts.
Dave Webb is a longtime member of Saint Luke and is currently serving on Church Council as treasurer.