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August 2017 - Generosity Gameplan™

Last week in Colorado at a private ranch owned by friends a small group of people surrounded Bill to help him discern how, through his private foundation, he can help pastors with leadership development.

After about two hours of conversation during which this well informed group mapped who is doing what in this space, one of the people asked Bill, “Why do you care about pastors? Why is this so important to you?” …hoping to get a meaningful treatise on the role of pastors and the importance of leadership development. Bill’s answer, “You know, I don’t really know.”

I was fortunate to be in the room for this short conversation, and here’s the way I saw it:

– Bill and I have been close friends for 27 years and I have managed his foundation for 18 of those years. I know intimately how thousands of pastors have been helped, their churches strengthened and I have seen first hand their congregation’s flourish as a result.

– In the world of “strategic philanthropy” one would say Bill’s foundation has a “theory of change,” that states… when pastors grow their leadership capacity, churches thrive and the whole land prospers. So, help the pastors if you want the land to flourish. Sounds important doesn’t it?

But alas, like me you’ve been hypnotized by complexity just like so many generous people.

I was able to call out this moment for the group and underscore that Bill’s answer, “I don’t really know” is a way of saying that it is his heart’s desire to help in this way. He has reflected on it, studied it, tested different approaches and now he knows that this is what he is supposed to do….acts of generosity, very large or modest, driven by heart’s desire can be very strategic.

How about you? Are you hypnotized by complexity or are your acts of generosity driven by your heart’s desire?

China mission tripI’m a pretty independent person. And I like to be self-sufficient… to not need or ask for help. However, when someone I know is in need… whether it be help with a task, a connection I can make for them, or prayer during a hard or dark time… I am very willing and grateful to give. But when the shoe is on the other foot, and I am the one in need, I’ve had to learn to accept the generosity of others.

“Giving is virtuous, but so is accepting gifts gratefully.” -Doe Zantamata

When I read this quote I wondered, “Am I gratefully accepting the gifts I receive from others?” My daughter just returned from an eight week summer adventure in Asia where we were out of contact for much of the time. When she was packing to leave, one of the things I told her was on the tough days to be aware of her blessings, count them, and be lifted up by them. She would need to be dependent upon, first of all, her God every single day, and secondly, on the kindness of and gifts from others around her.

Our family has had some dark and tough days over the last year or so. And now I realize our faith, and the kindness, prayers and gift from those in our lives is what has made the difference in coming through to the other side. It’s sometimes really hard to feel so weak, as if the world is pressing down on you. But I saw a great visual just the other day in a counselor’s office that illustrates how, if we allow ourselves, we can let others remove some of the heaviness and be so grateful for it. This counselor was speaking to my friend who had been carrying a pretty heavy load… he got up, walked over to her, placed his hands on her shoulders “lifting” the burden from her, removed it and carried it away. That’s what we can do for each other. Even I felt lighter as I saw him do this. And why would I want to rob the giver from the joy of giving?

I am grateful… so, so grateful for the prayers, phone calls, texts, walks, shoulders, tissues that have been passed my way. And I will continue to give generously in the same way whenever I can.

“How beautiful a day can be when kindness touches it!” -George Elliston

Read my book, Connected for Good: A Gameplan for a generous Life, to discover stories of other generosity champions.