What if my gift isn’t used wisely?

Many times when people consider giving, one of their biggest fears is that their money won’t be used wisely, whether it’s given to a homeless person, a struggling neighbor, or even to their local church. Since this is a common struggle, and at times, a legitimate concern, it’s an important issue to address.

What is God asking me to do?

First and foremost, we should always be asking where God is calling us to give. Be sensitive to those “God nudges” that ask you to notice someone, to give. An older gentleman, one of the most generous people I know, said that when he’s in a position for spontaneous generosity, he’s found he needs to obey those God nudges within 10 seconds, otherwise his more logical brain will talk himself out of it. Of course, this doesn’t mean to give to everything that pulls your emotional strings—instead, it’s about very intentionally and carefully listening for God’s voice. 

And God isn’t always asking you to give money. Sometimes it would be more helpful to give in another way—take someone out to coffee (time), babysit their kids (service), help them set up a budget (talent), repair electrical wiring (skills), lend them your car (resources), introduce them to a friend whose company is hiring (influence), etc.

What if the recipient doesn’t use my gift wisely?

Again, it goes back to listening to God’s voice. If God placed that person on your heart, He has a reason for your gift and you can trust Him with it. After all, we must first remember God’s grace toward us—an undeserved gift. God gave us His Son knowing that we did not deserve it and would so many times not use His gift well. And yet, He gave anyway.

Also, the gift you’re thinking about making is God’s money or God’s resource in the first place. Since God owns it all, your credit cards belong to Him. He’s just given us some of His credit cards to manage for a little while. So, if God asks us to use His credit card to love on one of His people, God will take care of the results.

God sees the whole picture and has a purpose for your gift, even if it appears the recipient did not use the gift well. Maybe the act of giving is for your own heart, for someone else watching, or for the recipient later on down the road. I read a story recently about a woman who didn’t have money for a bus pass, so a gentleman gave her twenty dollars. At the time, she was a raging alcoholic, so she spent the money and got drunk. However, the memory of the gift always stayed with her, and eventually was one of the reasons she is now sober and tries to serve others.

But what about being a good steward? 

There definitely is a balance. God calls us to be good stewards and to use the resources He has given us wisely. Many generous givers will tell you they have developed giving guidelines or have specific types of ministries they believe they are called to support. They typically use the majority of their resources like a spear—to specifically and strategically support a few ministries and causes God has laid on their hearts. Good stewardship does call us to thoughtfully give of our resources.

However, most generous givers will also tell you about the importance of spontaneous or undedicated giving. Spontaneous giving is spur-of-the-moment giving, like when your waitress mentions she’s expecting a baby and her husband just got laid off. Undedicated giving is when you give to your church or a ministry and don’t place any restrictions on where the gift should go.

These two types of giving are what Pastor Rick Warren calls the “good for your heart” giving.  As you listen to God, you’ll find that these kinds of giving are just as important because they help your heart let go of control as you experience the joy of generosity.

In all, generosity is not a set formula. It’s not giving your 10% and assuming God is now pleased with you. It’s not about giving in a certain way or to certain people at the right times. It is a journey and it is about listening to God’s voice along the way.

For more stories on how real people have dealt with these issues on their generosity journeys, purchase “The Generosity Bet” today.

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