One of the greatest things about my job as Executive Director of Project Patch is that I get to meet some amazingly generous people. I’ve been left speechless by those moments when people give more than I ever thought possible.
I’ve held checks that had so many zeros on it that it could have paid for my house. I couldn’t imagine writing a check that big and handing it over without worry, concern, or control. I saw joy and humility in the giver.
I also held a handful of change and couldn’t talk or breathe because I was so emotionally touched by the generosity of the giver. I had shared about Project Patch with a group of ladies at a retreat, and one young woman with learning challenges went to her room, scrounged through her baggage, and gave all she could find so that families and kids could be helped. I think I met the great, great, great, great, granddaughter of the widow who Jesus praised.
I’ve also met people who give, not out of love, but out of obligation and guilt. There’s no joy in their giving.
Generosity isn’t just about giving at church or to a non-profit. It’s fun to be with generous people. They are great to do projects with and fun to be around.
Is generosity something natural for our kids, like the color of their eyes or a quirky sense of humor? Or is it something that’s developed, like work-ethic, forgiveness, and communication?
One way to start an argument with parents, teachers, and any others that work with kids, is to ask whether kids are by nature generous or not. If you are around two-year olds for more than a few minutes you can hear them shout, “Mine!” It doesn’t seem to change much as kids get older, they just fight over different things. However, kids can be amazingly generous and selfless. They willingly give their time, effort, and reputation to help others. I’ve seen classrooms full of bald kids that had shaved their heads in solidarity for a classmate battling cancer.
Rather than solving this question, let’s agree that our kids would benefit as adults from being even more generous. Generosity attracts generosity and is at the heart of long-term success. It’s possible to become very wealthy at the expense of others, but it comes at a cost of peace, relationships, and security.
Solomon wrote in Ecclesiastes 5:13–14 (NASB95), “There is a grievous evil which I have seen under the sun: riches being hoarded by their owner to his hurt. When those riches were lost through a bad investment and he had fathered a son, then there was nothing to support him.”
Like all things in dealing with raising great adults, a key is modeling it. I like how Henry Cloud frames hoarding as a fear that the future won’t provide what is needed. It’s the ultimate sense of poverty. If we act like you have to hold onto everything that you have now because the future will mistreat you, then don’t be surprised if your kids do the same.
Here are some key way’s to teach generosity:
- Involve them in your financial giving – talk about why you give and how you give.
- Give them opportunities to make choices about their giving.
- Talk about people who were generous to you and your family. Pass down those stories.
- Find ways for your family to volunteer locally in hands-on service.
- Make it a family goal to serve internationally in a developing country.
The rewards of generosity are amazing and I’d love to hear from you how you’ve seen your kids be generous, and how you are encouraging them to be even more generous.