Last summer, my 90-year-old English mom wanted the boys of our third generation (now men) to see her homeland and connect with family. Tough duty, but I agreed to accompany Generation Three and we had a delightful adventure.
My son Micah, his cousin Scott, and I were struck by the social contract on the London Underground. Similar to the New York subway or Moscow’s Metro, the mass of humanity on board makes no eye contact, and there is no talking or touching unless it is rush hour or you have superhero-like courage.
The Underground reminded me of how we often do generosity—intentionally but on autopilot, isolated and autonomous, doing our own thing despite the abundance of connection available to us.
In the movie The Incredibles, the dad’s costume-maker keeps telling him that a cape will only get him in trouble. A normal costume will do, because true heroism comes from the heart—not from a cape. The cape would get caught in things like subway doors anyway.
My hunch is that the generosity social contract, much like the Underground social contract, stems from people not wanting to be bothersome. They are stuck in a Generosity Gap, thinking they need a superhero costume before taking it to the next level. Folks don’t want to impose and think they have to have a cape to be worthy of connected generosity.
Maybe there is a lesson for us as we build our Generosity Gameplans. Check-writing and volunteering as if we are on autopilot can be done in isolation. Connected generosity, on the other hand, is done with others, not just for them. We are hard-wired for connection to God and one another. No cape required!
If you’re wondering how the Generosity Gaps are showing up in your own life, take the Generosity Checkup and find out.