How to Not Be Afraid

Ever wanted to jump out of an airplane, give a major speech to a sold-out crowd, pet an anaconda, or fight back the zombie apocalypse…or at least, not be afraid to do any of the following?

One of the biggest ways to conquer fear is to be generous. Okay…maybe generosity won’t conquer your fear of snakes or heights, but it does have an amazing propensity to fight fears of inadequacy, not having enough, not keeping up, and so much more.

In The Generosity Bet (and its predecessor, Stories of the Generous Life), we interviewed 42 people about their life stories and what they have learned about giving along the way. These people ranged from janitors to billionaires, college students to retirees, farmers to Wall Street traders. But one theme common to all of them? They are some of the most fearless people you’ll ever meet.

Generosity does that to you. It weasels out all the little things you hold onto, the things you’re afraid to let go, the fears and little pleasures you’ve nestled away in quiet dark places where you think no one else will find them, so no one else can want them or take them. It makes you confront your heart and realize how often you’ve doubted that God is good and that God will provide when He’s asked you to give.

Generosity pulls your heart into the light. Wide-eyed and blinking and maybe stumbling a little, you begin to uncurl your fingers around the things that once seemed so important—that time, those resources, that influence, that security in your stuff, that appearance of being better than the Joneses, that control.

And as you begin to give away, you begin to discover something else. You begin to see, to truly see people and needs and what it means to be alive and human. And you begin to see God, to see that He’s still vibrantly alive and working and light is spreading and the darkness is fading away.

You find that the more you give away, the more your hands come back full—come back full of joy. And the more you soak your heart in joy, the more your hands can give away, because you don’t need stuff to make you feel good or look okay. Most of all, the more you give away, the less you fear because you don’t have the need to hold on so tight anymore.

So take a step toward fearlessness and toward joy. Be generous.

For more ideas on how to start your generosity journey, pick up a copy of The Generosity Bet today!

6 Ways to Teach Children Generosity

“As far as their family goes, John and Sherri are still figuring out how to pass on a legacy of generosity and to more fully invite their children and grandchildren into it. ‘Maybe we weren’t ready to,’ [John said], ‘but if I look back at it, maybe we could have started [teaching generosity] earlier with our kids and done better. We did service projects together, gave them money to give away, and did some training on finances, but we certainly could have done more.’” 

-Excerpt from The Generosity Bet

As 71-year-old John Kasdorf reflects on his generosity journey, the above statement is what he said about his family’s experience with teaching generosity to his children. His thoughts carry a tone familiar to many parents—a bit of wistfulness as they wonder if there was something more they could have done to train their children. It just goes to show that passing on a legacy of generosity is hard; it doesn’t have a clear path.

As children leave the home, virtually all parents wonder if they did enough. However, there are some practical things parents can do to encourage generosity in their children:

1) Giving Piggy Banks

When children are young and receiving allowances and/or special monetary gifts for birthdays and holidays, they can be taught early budgeting. They can use three piggy banks to divide their money into spending, saving, and giving categories. This teaches them to begin having a “giving” category for their possessions.

2) Family Giving Fund

Families can establish a giving fund, which is like a charitable bank account, with a local community foundation. Not only does this provide a central location for all the family’s giving, but it also provides an immediate tax deduction and one year-end receipt for all giving done. (One such community foundation is the National Christian Foundation). But most of all, it is a vehicle that allows families to make giving decisions together.

Many families have meetings to discuss what donation requests they have received or what needs they are aware of. The meeting frequency depends on the family—some meet once a year, others quarterly, and others monthly. Based on feedback from the meeting, families give away money from their fund. Some families even have formalized giving guidelines that direct what type of causes they fund. These guidelines may be especially important for multi-generational families.

3) Christmastime Money

Some families have opted to give their children and/or grandchildren a certain amount of money at Christmastime. This money is to be given to a ministry or individual of the child’s choice. Not only does the child get to experience the joy of giving, but he also begins to identify the causes and issues he cares about as he researches the ministries he wants to support.

4) Mission Trips

Some families not only support ministries, but also visit those same ministries. Many givers will tell you that it is important to see ministry work at the ground level. Seeing real life change and real life struggles within a ministry challenges one to get involved and engaged at a heart level.

These trips could be to the local homeless shelter or to a school in Africa. Jim Blankemeyer, a business owner in Ohio, has “grandkid trips” where they take their grandchildren overseas. Not only do they visit the seminaries and pastors they support, but they also go to jails and garbage dumps to understand how much of the world lives.

5) Stuff in Closets

Giving does not have to be money. (In fact, only about 9% of the world’s wealth is in checkbooks and bank accounts—the rest of our wealth is in our possessions.) Go through closets and your garage to find items to give away to Salvation Army or other donation pickup services. Consider donating cars or business interest. Encourage your children to also go through their possessions as they de-clutter and live simpler.

6) Model Generosity

Of course, one of the most important ways to teach generosity is to model it. Even if you choose not to disclose exactly how much you’re giving away, kids need to see how you live generosity daily. And many times, this generous lifestyle does not include money—it’s about taking international students to doctors’ appointments, shoveling neighbors’ sidewalks, visiting grandparents, sharing donuts, serving at church, etc.

Your Story

These are just some ideas to get you started. Your family situation and story will look different from the next person. And there is nothing wrong with that. This post isn’t to make you feel guilty for the way you have or have not done things. You get to delight in and wrestle with your own unique story.

You do not need to be wealthy or even have any extra change in order to be generous. Generosity is a lifestyle, a frame of mind. It is about living and doing well with everything God has entrusted you—with your time, your talents, and your treasure.

The point of this is to challenge you to think about the values you want to leave to your children. And if indeed generosity is one of them, how will you pass that value on? It has to start somewhere. Where will you start?

In the end, we’re just called to be faithful to the task and path God has set before us. Even if we did a perfect job teaching and modeling generosity, children still have to choose for themselves how they are going to live. At some point, we have to trust that we did the best we could, but God ultimately has the power to shape and capture our children’s hearts.

For more ideas and encouragement for your own generosity journey, order “The Generosity Bet” today!

The Right Way To Be Generous?

Is there a right way to be generous? Often times, it seems like there are only one or two “good” ways to practice generosity. However, the more generosity journey stories you hear, like those featured in The Generosity Bet, you’ll find that everyone’s journey is God-designed to be different.

For Craig Chapman, his family’s giving capacity greatly increased after he sold half of his equity in the successful traffic and navigation company he helped build. However, even he said that sometimes he hears other stories of generous givers that make him feel like the rich man in the Bible who walked away.

“Too many people look at generosity stories and think, ‘I can’t do that,’” Craig said. “But God doesn’t necessarily want ‘that’ from me. Maybe that’s not what God is calling me to. But I do have to be asking, ‘What is God calling me to?”

His wife, April, added, “One thing we’re finding is that everyone’s journey is unique. It’s not prescriptive. What God has shown us, or what He has done in our lives, is not exactly what He’s going to do in others. The opportunities He’s given us are unique to the skills He’s given us. If there’s any common thread, it’s that we have to be available, be seeking Him, and be asking Him to show us opportunities. Then, we have to obey.”

Starting Somewhere.

The beginnings of generosity will look different for everyone. Dr. John Koehler was freed to be joyful generous after God convicted him to write a $10,000 check. John & Sherri Kasdorf experienced a gradual journey that began with writing $25 checks for Thanksgiving and tithing maybe 2 percent. For Dayton Moore, generosity was sparked by his father’s example of working hard and caring for his neighbors.

Your Personality. 

Everyone is wired a different way and your personality will affect how you practice generosity. Jim Blankemeyer, an engineer and business owner, enjoys thoughtful, logical giving to a very specific cause. He feels that since his business excels in training employees, he ought to be doing the same for the Kingdom—supporting ministries that equip Christian leaders in their jobs. For this reason, the majority of his giving is for Christian leadership and development.

For others, like Bob Hodgdon, his family foundation focuses on small and start-up ministries and ministries that someone in their family is passionate about and involved in. Thus, they give to a wider variety of causes.

You may also be wired toward a specific kind of giving. Some people like being very intentional and strategic. They give after carefully researching a cause or ministry. Others enjoy spontaneous giving. They give as soon as they hear about a need. Still others enjoy giving their time or skills to practically help others.

Your Background.

You’ll also find that your background—your parents, your childhood, your struggles—affect the way you think about giving. If your parents were very openly generous with their money, you’re probably more inclined to give that way (or conversely, you may be careful about giving what seems like too much). If your parents emphasized helping others, you may be more inclined to get involved in other’s lives. If your parents emphasized professional success, it may be harder to give up your valuable time, resources, or money.

Regardless of your background, anyone can learn to be generous. It’s just important that you realize how your background shapes your giving decisions.

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Overall, your generosity journey is just that—a journey, and uniquely yours. Your story, your background, your personality, and so much more, all play into the way God has been shaping and directing your story. There is no one right way to give. Instead, it is a matter of always seeking where God is asking you to take that next step.

Learn more about the Chapmans’ generosity journey and discover inspiration for your own at The Generosity Bet.