When he looked up, he saw some wealthy people putting their offerings into the treasury and he noticed a poor widow putting in two small coins. He said,” I tell you truly, this poor widow put in more than all the rest; for those others have all made offerings from their surplus wealth, but she, from her poverty, has offered her whole livelihood.”
Luke 21: 1-4
Whether or not this particular faith form applies to you, it’s the test illustration of true generosity. Being generous of heart and giving as a habit are two completely different things.
Allison and Scott are minimalists. Every few months or so, they go through their stuff and get rid of what they don’t need, use, or that which has become pointless. This usually culminates in delivering a Lowe’s medium-sized box to the local mission’s thrift store.
In the past, the contents of those boxes have been gently worn clothes out of season, dishes that have been replaced or are no longer needed, a few appliances, linens, etc.…
In this case, Allison and Scott are happy to give. The stuff they donate to the thrift store is of good quality and sold to raise money for the mission’s charitable purposes. This is charitable giving but doesn’t quite meet the threshold for generosity because what they give doesn’t quite put them next to the widow.
On the other hand, Allison goes to the pet store ever six weeks or so to buy her dog a 15-pound bag of dog food. The particular brand she buys is one she settled on because it’s high quality and because her dog has a sensitive stomach.
Having adopted Chloe from the SPCA, Allison looks to donate to them whenever she can. So, every time she buys a $65.00 bag of dog food for Chloe, Allison buys the same bag of dog food to donate to the SPCA.
In this case, Allison gives good quality dog food happily and freely to an outstanding cause. She also has a very limited budget with which to buy her family and dogs food every month. Buying two large bags of high-quality dog food stretches that budget, but she makes several sacrifices to in her own wants and needs to make it happen.
This is generosity.
Generous people are:
• Natural leaders
Generous people give without the need or hope of recognition for their efforts. When Allison delivers her second bag of dog food to the SPCA, she generally drops it at the donation door after hours on a Sunday. It’s enough for her to know that the food was received.
She’s also trusting in that she truly believes her cause is worthy, and beyond reproach. She doesn’t take the bag to the front desk and give precise instructions on how her donation is to be used. She knows that her cause is righteous, and the people who administer her donation will do so in the way it best fits their needs.
Most people who are generous are energetic. They have a natural ability to run circles around others. Now, whether it’s the chicken or the egg is debatable, but generous people derive energy from their altruism, trust, and optimism.
In Allison’s case, she knows that in a perfect world, every deserving dog would have an amazing home, and organizations like the SPCA, ASPCA, All Paws, Giving Hope, etc., wouldn’t need to exist. Still, she gives.
It doesn’t matter if we’re talking about donating food for humans, or animals. It doesn’t matter if you volunteer with your church or Habitat for Humanity. Generous people give freely, abundantly, and goodly, or their time, talent, respect, humility, money, and kindness. That in and of itself is an act of leadership.
What it really means to be generous is to give of yourself without hesitation, commiseration, or regret, and with a good heart.