Tween Understands Generosity

Generosity // December 7, 2009

Within the last month, I saw a “tweet” from someone I follow on Twitter. She is a staff member in a church where I have served as consultant to their capital campaign, and most recently on their annual fund initiative. Here is the text of her tweet:

“Tween asked bday guests 2 bring blankets 4 homeless instead of gifts & she just spent all her bday $ on christmas wishes kids. Proud momma.”

Now if you are not a frequent “texter” or user of Twitter, it might take a brief moment to decipher her note, but I am pretty confident you can figure it out. Read it again, then pause to consider what it means.

The post appeared before Thanksgiving, but I can’t stop thinking about it. In those 26 abbreviated words lies a tremendous testimony worthy of celebration!

First, here’s a youth who understands what it means to be generous. She gets it! I serve clients all around the country and spend time with adults who have no concept of this basic level of generosity. I’m looking in the mirror here. I was much older before I understood, let alone began to practice, this level of generosity. At Generis, we value this as a “second conversion” into a life of passionate generosity. Most of us did not become generous Christians immediately upon our conversion into a life-changing relationship with Christ. It often comes later…sometimes much later. It did for me. My first conversion was of my heart; the second was of my wallet.

Second, she is a leader. She invites her friends to her birthday party, requesting them to bring blankets for the homeless instead of gifts for herself. In that simple ask, she is living out generosity in front of her friends and family, helping them to visualize, experience, and begin to understand what a generous life looks like. She is leading by the highest, holiest form of leadership…personal example.

Third, she has blessed her parents. They have had the opportunity to see the impact of their nurturing love and patient instruction lived out in one of their children. Is there a greater blessing than seeing your kids live out one of your family values in front of others? What might it feel like as a ministry leader to see your congregation living out the value of generosity within your community in such a way that everyone they come in contact with knows you as a generous church? More importantly, what would it look like if your community saw the generous love, grace and mercy of Christ through the generosity of your church family? Would that be a blessing to you as their shepherd?

Finally, you must consider the impact. Without celebrating these moments of generosity, you miss one of the most important reasons for sharing; the impact the story can have on others. Ever since reading that tweet, I cannot get the visualization of that story out of my head. (Here it is three weeks later and I’m writing about it!) Every time I have had the opportunity to give since reading the tweet, I am reminded of the story. I am challenged by the generous nature of her gifts. It has raised the bar for me personally. It has caused me to be even more generous; not out of a competitive spirit or “one-up-man-ship” – but as a move of the Holy Spirit. I am reminded of the generosity of Christ and what that can and should look like lived out in my own life.

Celebrate moments of generosity at every opportunity; prior to taking the offering, a note in the newsletter, in a quarterly letter accompanying giving statements. There are dozens of ways to do it well. Go ahead…raise the bar in your ministry…help your people GET IT!

About Rusty Lewis

As a church leader, there’s nothing more frustrating than not having the funding to do what God’s calling you to do. But when you think about trying to address that problem, you feel overwhelmed, you dread the potential pushback from your congregation, and you’re not sure where to turn for help. Over the last 18 years, I’ve helped more than 120 churches close the gap between their current financial reality and what they need to move forward in ministry.

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