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.”
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.
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.
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.
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.