A Silent Giver

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Being generous is the best way to live life.

I was with a friend the other day for coffee. He mentioned that he would like to give money to Midtown, the church some friends and I are starting in south Minneapolis. Whenever I hear this, I’m always filled with mixed emotions. First, I’m incredibly grateful when people feel called to give to our ministry start-up. Financial support is crucial in these early stages, especially for a young church created by and for young people. Acts of generosity keep me going and inspire me to work as hard as possible. At the same time, I’m always a little weary, too.

Sometimes people expect something in return (whether they know it or not). In a case like this, sometimes someone may want their ideas or opinions to be heard or may feel like if they give, they are entitled to services or benefits from the organization they support. So, you can imagine my gratefulness when this friend was quick to follow up with, “And I want to be a silent giver. I trust you and your team to steward it well. And I know you’ll experience some setback along the way.”

My friend lives a few hours away. It will be tough for him to be part of our ministry on a regular basis. I hope my friend will gain a lot of joy from giving to this ministry as I share stories of what’s happening. Because of his generosity, I will be able to share with him some of the things we’ve tried, whether they yield failures or successes in the future.

This speaks to the larger question of giving. It’s the Christmas season.
What does it mean to give? 
What does it mean to give when it feels like we have nothing to give? 
Can we truly do so without some sort of agenda? 
And if not, is that such a bad thing? 
Perhaps most importantly, how does one become a silent giver?

Last month, our friends at brightpeak hosted a “Habit of Asking” workshop. I sat with a group of pastors and other ministry leaders to learn how to ask people to give financially to the ministries we are leading. The emerging science of generosity shows that donations and giving are rarely the outcome of one’s income. The more money someone makes rarely results in a higher proportion of giving. Ironic, yeah? But what does account for higher levels of generosity? It is simply a perception of one’s financial situation – a general feeling of trust, security, and freedom accompanies acts of generosity. Simple plans like a 50-30-20 approach to spending, basic income protection and a plan for retirement can increase the likelihood of consistent generosity.

The “Habit of Asking” workshop at the brightpeak offices were a boost to my own method of thinking about money and giving. However, my biggest takeaway was a simple quote:

“A rising tide lifts all boats.”

We are in this together. It’s very difficult to do community without generosity – whether on the level of the city, a faith community, or even within a family. Generosity is essential to thriving communities.

That brings me back to our new church in Minneapolis. Our church is very conversational. Our recipe for faith is a bit of a mixture – one part finding answers and two parts learning to ask better questions. Every now and then, a question will catch us by surprise and stir in us something we didn’t expect. Such was the case last week.

Our theme for the gathering was giving and generosity. A participant in our group asked,

“What is the exact amount of money you would have to make to begin giving 10% to a cause or a ministry?”

The question caught us flat-footed. Myself included. As the conversation unfolded we were joined by one of the wise elders in our group. He described generosity and giving as a muscle – it needs to be exercised. It doesn’t happen all at once.

We may give just a little one year and get to the end of that year and realize that the act of generosity did not sink the ship. The next year we make a little more of a contribution, and perhaps at the end of the year we may realize the joy we gained from seeing money make a difference in the world. Money ceases to be a force to battle against and starts to become something that flows through us to purchase the brands we believe in, help our communities to thrive, and support ministries and causes doing amazing things in the world.

“After a while,” the elder in our group said, “giving just becomes a part of who you are.”

You become a silent giver.  

As financial guides for brightpeak, we are in the business of raising the tide for all boats. Our work belongs to the larger picture of building economic resilience and strength in young families. We may never see the outcomes of the larger work we are doing. We may not see the giving muscles active in full development. It will take years.

But financial guides know that generosity is simply the best way to live life. Just ask any silent giver.

Written by Tim Schuster

This blog post is from the Author's perspective and doesn't speak for brightpeak financial. Contact brightpeak if you want to know more about brightpeak products, and keep in mind that they are not available in all states and there are some limitations (some exclusions and restrictions may apply).

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