John Stanley: Generosity Champions

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Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity. 1 Timothy 4:12

“It occurs to me that if we want to help someone else grow in generosity it must begin with us. “Do as I say, not as I do” just doesn’t work. Others influence us most when their words and actions are consistent. We observe them and follow their lead because we believe they are the real deal. An advisor, a friend, or a colleague that is living generously is best suited to champion others to do the same.

Can you think of such a person right now? Let me tell you why I ask. All personal growth happens in relationships. Think about it. Maintaining physical health and wellness requires us to have advocates, informants, medical professionals, and fitness coaches in our lives. Growing in our Christian faith requires both ancient and present day spiritual advisors. These people teach us to listen to the Holy Spirit…I like to refer to such exemplars as generosity champions.

Generosity champions are clear and confident. In their hearts, they desire to change the world around them. They spend themselves to make these changes, because they believe God has put them here for that purpose. As I have watched them, they don’t go at it alone. They reflect on their ability to influence others through personal connections.

If that sounded like a mouthful, let me put it another way. Generosity champions maximize their relationships and connections to help good things happen. We learn from these people by watching them do it. What’s so great about generosity champions is that they connect people for the benefit of others regardless of the implications to themselves.

Generosity champions build bridges for people. When they connect two people who share the same aspirations or challenges they practice what may be the most undervalued and inexpensive act of generosity. They open a door, send an email, make an introduction, or place a call. And, these people, as I have watched and learned from them, don’t push their own agenda but follow a higher one.

Generosity champions listen to the Holy Spirit and have hearts that confidently use their strengths and capacities generously. We can do this too. And it turns out that when we spend ourselves as a volunteer along these lines, we experience tremendous joy and fulfilment, while avoiding merely trading time for obligation. This results in us investing our time in others generously, not out of duty.”

John Stanley, creator of Generosity Gameplan and author of Connected for Good, in his three-page essay “What helps people grow in generosity?” in Purposeful Living: Financial Wisdom for All of Life compiled and edited by Gary G. Hoag and Tim Macready (Rhodes, NSW: Christian Super, 2018) 122-124. Click on the title to download this free ebook today.

Can you think of a generosity champion in your life? With that person in mind, let’s drill down on three profound points Stanley makes.

Firstly, “all personal growth happens in relationships” and those relationships are between us and other people, as well as between us and God. Regardless of his or her age, how has that the champion in your life influenced you? And how would those closest to you say that your relationship with God shapes your living, giving, serving, and loving?

Secondly, “these people teach us to listen to the Holy Spirit.” My wife, Jenni, who is a spiritual director (Soulcare Anchoress) calls it, “attuning to God,” which always reminds me of those old-fashion dial car radios that had to be tuned carefully to locate the station. How has the generosity champion in your life taught you to attune to God?

Nurturing relationships and listening to the Holy Spirit in a noisy, crazy, busy world requires each of us to tune out the World and to tune the antenna of our hearts and minds carefully to God. And people who do are positioned to “confidently use their strengths and capacities generously” rather than “trading time for obligation.”

I got to spend a couple days this week with a generosity champion in my life. I have actually been helping him with a project, but I am gaining more than I am expending because he’s teaching me how to live and how to be generous as I get older. Find a generosity champion, spend time together regularly, and learn from his or her example.