Who is the most generous person you know?
After three decades of stewardship ministry I’ve met a lot of wonderful givers, but the most generous people I’ve ever known are my own mom and dad. It’s not the size of their gifts that makes them the most generous. There are plenty of other people who have bigger bank accounts and write much larger checks. It’s their consistent acts of generosity that is remarkable.
They love to serve others, to meet a need, to satisfy a want, to share their abundance and let others know they are loved. They give money to church, ministries, camps, missionaries, and a variety of other causes. They are in constant giving mode, helping others in the most practical ways. They simply LOVE to give!
They know it all belongs to God, freely given to them by a gracious Heavenly Father. So they freely give it away. It’s not theirs to own but to steward and enjoy, or encourage others to enjoy. They are humble and grateful for what God has provided but not enslaved by their possessions or worried about not having enough.
And they do it all with a big smile. I’ve never seen such excitement in their faces as when they are about to give a special gift. I’ve never seen any begrudging, withholding or regret. They are joyful because they have lived by one essential truth of generosity that changes everything: “It is more blessed to give than to receive.” (Acts 20:35)
More blessed indeed! They are happier than ever, loved by many, honored by all and lacking in nothing. They’ve experienced the promise Jesus made to givers: “Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.” (Luke 6:38)
Wouldn’t you love to live that way too? This simple truth, that it is more blessed to give than to receive, is the cornerstone of all Christian giving and fundraising. If you want to be successful in fundraising, your first task is to help people understand the great advantage of becoming a generous giver.
One of the biggest barriers to both fundraising and giving is the unbiblical idea that by giving money away you will have less. We call this “subtractional” thinking, where the fundraiser is reluctant to ask because they believe the donor will suffer loss as a result of their gift. It stifles the giver for the same reason – they think they will have LESS because of their gift. This type of negative thinking will quench the spirit of generosity in any person, church congregation or ministry. Guard against it!
But God promises MORE. More blessing. More increase. More capacity. Greater joy. You truly cannot out give God!
As a ministry leader, how do you begin to teach this simple truth? First, you must believe the word of Jesus is true. When he said it is more blessed to give than receive, was he joking or being manipulative? No! He was revealing a secret to happiness in life.
So start with yourself. You can’t teach others to be generous until you have experienced the great joy of giving yourself. Giving is like exercise. You have to do it, even a little at a time, to get in shape. Give what you can. Give all you can. Then you’ll be in a better position to invite others into a lifestyle of generosity.
There are those, like my mom and dad, who have experienced the abundant life that God promised to those who have learned to freely give. Learn to be one of them. Then you can give others the opportunity to experience the joy of becoming a generous giver as well.