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May 3, 2017 at 8:54 AM

The Challenge of Engagement

multi hands raisedLast week I spent a couple of days in Indianapolis at the request of a new friend, Layne at Ron Blue and Company. Weeks ago, after having lunch with his colleagues and talking about generosity and ways in which the Generosity Gameplan could serve clients, Layne pulled me aside and wondered how what we had just been talking about could help his church. He is a member of the large evangelical Grace Church. They had just completed a two-year capital campaign and wondered, “How do we rethink generosity as a congregation?” Interesting.

Their lead pastor had preached on generosity for three weeks, and on the fourth weekend we showed this animation and gave away over 1,000 copies of my book Connected for Good. We then invited 100 people to follow their stewardship committee in creating their own Generosity Gameplans. The outcomes are still emerging, but it is clear that the stewardship pastor, Shane, and his team have fresh insights into these 100 folks, how they see generosity for themselves and how they wish to engage.

A great story emerged in a group discussion at one of their campuses. Folks were invited for a book discussion with the stewardship team and myself. During that discussion, a somewhat new member of the congregation sheepishly admitted that after spending herself at her health and fitness business helping women grow in spirit, mind and body all day every day, she has no capacity to “volunteer with her strengths at church.”

Shane lovingly opened his eyes wide, offered grace and filled her with this thought. “You are an example of a person living generosity with her whole life, not just on Sunday, or when you volunteer or make a contribution. You have fully integrated faith, life and work into a beautiful Generosity Gameplan. How can Grace Church serve you?”

On the drive back home I wondered, what else wants to happen with my book, Connected for Good, and more to the point, what else wants to happen with the Generosity Gameplan? Most people I talk to lament about engagement; businesses engaging customers, advisors engaging clients, pastors engaging their congregations. Since engaging people to sign up, show up, participate and finish is such a challenge, can getting clear and confident about how we want to be generous with our whole lives serve to help bring a little peace of mind like Shane did for this woman?

Where are you trying to get engagement?

Read my book, Connected for Good: A Gameplan for a Generous Life, to discover stories of others who have become generosity champions.

Apr 6, 2017 at 2:01 PM

Ice Cream Social’s CPA

ice cream coneI have a friend who is a CPA. She loves her work and is very successful in it. She also has elementary aged school children. When building her Generosity Gameplan it was clear to her that the strength she wanted to give when volunteering was strategic planning. But as a young mom she found little time to volunteer in this way and instead spent most of her available time as a volunteer at her children’s school. She has taken on chairing the ice cream socials.

So how can she reconcile this notion that I promote of only volunteering with her strengths and not trading time for obligation when volunteering? The fact is, volunteering at school is gratifying and she stays connected to her kids and other families. This is a good thing. I’ve encouraged her to see all of her volunteer activities as a portfolio in which some volunteering is helping organizations with strategic planning but other volunteering keeps her connected to her kids’ school family.

This portfolio approach has brought her peace of mind and she knows that when her kids are a bit older maybe more of her volunteering portfolio can be focused on her strengths. But this experience has brought another insight for my friend… she created a stop volunteering list. As Dr. Henry Cloud teaches in his book, “Necessary Endings,” some volunteer activities have run their course. Their season is past, especially when we are clear about our strengths, the stop volunteering list is easier to create.

I have attached a link to The Volunteering Inventory from the Generosity Gameplan. I’d love for you to take about 10-15 minutes and go through it. It’s an exercise to help you take a fresh look at volunteering.

Volunteering Inventory – Generosity Gameplan

Over time our generous intentions can become simply trading time for obligation. But when we focus on using our strengths, that is, when we volunteer and focus on giving away what we are best at, we win and the recipients of our generous volunteering win too. Chances are, when we only give away what we are best at we will do more of it.

What is on your stop volunteering list?

Read my book, Connected for Good: A Gameplan for a Generous Life, to discover stories of other generosity champions – like you!

Mar 7, 2017 at 1:39 PM

Guest post: Gary Hoag Lenten reflection – Sacred Struggles

Generosity MonkSacred Struggles

Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? Matthew 6:25-27

“Lent provides us with the grace-filled opportunity to reflect upon, and name our own sacred struggles. To recognize and accept that which we are most anxious about, that which keeps us up at night, that which prevents us from growing in our faith, hope, and trust…Are there any prayer intentions that you’ve been hesitant to name? Sacred struggles you dare not ask God to meet? Healings or forgiveness that you aren’t sure whether you are prepared for? What are you most anxious about now? As part of our commitment to be people of prayer and to embrace our sacred struggles, I would like to invite you to…jot down your Lenten prayer intention…your “sacred struggle” if you will, that is preventing you from growing and thriving in your faith.”
-from Father Tony Zimmer in his homily entitled “Sacred Struggle” on February 26, 2017 at St. Anthony on the Lake in Pewaukee, WI

As the first week of Lent draws to a close, I would encourage you to make the most of the opportunity to go deeper in your experience of prayer this Lent. With Fr. Zimmer, remember that it’s a “grace-filled opportunity” to lift up to God anything and everything that brings you anxiety. Such things become “sacred struggles” because we get stuck. We lose sleep. We worry. We start making other decisions that reflect the anxiety swelling within us. With Fr. Zimmer, let us give God our “sacred struggles” this Lent and see what happens to our faith.

How does this relate to generosity? When our lives our filled with worry and anxiety, we tend to hoard in fear rather than live open-handed, generous lives! Make the most of your prayer time this Lent, and I think your generosity will blossom along with your faith!

As a bonus for those who like to add music to their prayer time, click to listen to “Gracious God”Gracious God song by Jesse Manibusan. It’s a beautiful song that St. Anthony on the Lake is using this Lent. You will notice it speaks of the sacred struggle in the second verse.

Enjoy it in your time with our Lord today.

Mar 6, 2017 at 4:02 PM

Millennial Connections

Nepali school childrenWe never know where we will connect with something that speaks to our heart’s desire. For my friend and colleague, Mike Luedke, it was through an unlikely friendship with a Nepali immigrant, Ojash, whom he met through work. Mike describes Ojash as a cool, calm, and collected guy who was able to help unravel a really tough tech problem while consulting for Mike and the company he was working for at the time. That demeanor drew Mike in, and they started to become friends over international cuisine – something they both shared an interest in. Mike was just out of school and already asking some tough questions: “What else is there in life?” and thinking, “I want more meaning.” On their lunch breaks, Ojash would talk about his homeland of Nepal and the rampant poverty and illiteracy. Mike recognized the vision and purpose Ojash spoke with when talking about making a difference there, and he was hooked.

Today, Mike, Ojash and about 15 others run Ganga Ghar, a non-profit organization whose mission is to “improve the lives of impoverished children in Nepal by sponsoring their education and ensuring adequate nutrition and clothing for their families.” They now sponsor upwards of 80 children.

In 2015, Nepal was hit by a 7.8 magnitude earthquake which interrupted and redirected Ganga Ghar’s work. Getting relief and medical supplies into the hardest hit areas became the immediate focus. And just last year, Ganga Ghar re-opened a school that had been reduced to rubble in the quake.

Interestingly enough, Mike says that the earthquake has the Ganga Ghar team, and Mike himself, stepping back and reflecting on their work in Nepal, asking themselves: “Are we serving in a way that brings transformation to the lives of those we reach and those we partner with?”

As part of his personal Generosity Gameplan, Mike is wanting to re-confirm the giving of his currencies as a transformational act of generosity. Is it bringing about personal growth, relationship growth, organizational growth, community growth, and spiritual growth?

This examination is driven by one of Ganga Ghar’s core values – a “deep desire to transform the world by transforming the lives of others.” So now that the school is rebuilt, Mike and Ganga Ghar want to make sure they are continuing to connect with their donors’, sponsors’ and partners’ desires to change the world for the children and families in Nepal that need it the most.

Stepping back often and evaluating questions like these is an important part of your Generosity Gameplan. Things change. The world changes. Our circumstances change. It’s necessary for us to make sure that the giving of our currencies remains in line with our heart’s desire.

You can find out more about Ganga Ghar at their website: gangaghar.org or Facebook page: facebook.com/gangaghar.

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

Jan 31, 2017 at 9:11 AM

Ripples of Generosity: the Multiplier Effect

So African womanWhen you spend your currencies, whether it be relationships, strengths or resources, and you realize that your efforts are being amplified and multiplied we call that the Multiplier Effect.

A perfect example are my friends Barb and Gary Rosberg of America’s Family Coaches. They have a wonderful ministry in the nation of South Africa. Each year they spend about a month serving the Zulu women who care for and feed children orphaned by HIV/AIDS and are living on the streets.

This trip is made possible by an anonymous gift that covers the cost of their airfare to and from South Africa. Among the many details that go into the yearly planning of this trip, Barb and Gary know that their travel costs are covered.

Once they arrive, they are able to be fully present. Gary supports Barb as she teaches Godly relationship principles to these Zulu women through The Six Secrets to Godly Relationships, which they wrote together. Barb designed a beautiful necklace that tells the story of the six secrets, that she gives to the women to help empower and encourage them. They, in turn, care for and feed the physical and spiritual needs of children who have lost much at a young age. In the years to come the hope, care and education given by these “thandle” (Zulu for “beloved”) women will ripple through this generation and onto the next. What may seem a simple gift by this donor has effects that will ripple for generations to come.

Like Jesus when he fed the 5,000 with only a few loaves and fishes, these donors realize that their generous efforts are being amplified and multiplied when they spend their resources. You give something away and you receive as much or more back in return. You give but your supply isn’t diminished. Your gift benefits both you and others in a win-win scenario.

How have you seen your gifts multiply and ripple throughout the communities you give to/volunteer with? Please share with our community by leaving me a comment.

Read my book, Connected for Good: A Gameplan for a Generous Life, to discover stories of others who have become generosity champions.