Generational Generosity

Generational Generosity

Written By: Christie A.

I was riding in the car with my family last weekend, we had just picked up groceries. My husband and I were lost in conversation and the radio was on. Suddenly my 11-year-old son stopped us and said, “Mom, can we give?” I was taken off guard and had no clue what he was talking about. Turns out Air1 was on, and they were asking for supporters to keep the station going. We initially said, “No, we have so many things we already give to, and we are asked all the time.” But as we began to ask questions, we found ourselves in a formative conversation that ultimately resulted in us giving a gift. This gift wasn’t a strategic move or given based on passion, but it was because my son cared, and we realized it was a moment to let him practice generosity.

I’ve been spending a lot of time thinking about this subject: Generosity. Over the course of my career, I get to see the incredible impact of generosity. I get to stand in the gap between men and women who give generously, and the direct life-changing impact of that generosity on at-risk children. The power of generosity has profoundly shaped my life and perspective.

I have three young children (11, 9, and 5) and as we raise them, my husband and I are having a lot of conversations about how we model generosity, giving them opportunities to be generous, and what that looks like. This is an area where I’m feeling the negative effects of technology. When I was young my parents were very generous, but online giving wasn’t invented and so week after week I watched them put a check in the offering at church. I watched them sit down at the table and write checks to causes they cared about; then they would talk to us kids about it and hand it to us to run it to the mailbox. They were interactive family moments where generosity was both visual and regularly modeled.

At the start of this year, we decided we needed to intentionally do some things as a family to model generosity for our kids. Seeking to visually model generosity as a consistent rhythm of our family. The first thing we did was we started talking to them about our personal conviction around tithe + offering. As a family, we talked about intentionally setting money aside to give as a regular part of who we are. As much as I don’t love to talk about giving, I realized they don’t see us doing it because of online giving, so unless we talk about it, they don’t know.

The second thing was we look for opportunities to serve together. To be generous with our time and our talents. This can look a lot of different ways, but we want to be intentional about teaching them to be generous with their time. The third thing we are working to model is being generous with what we have, this is most easily done with food. Modeling an “always enough” mentality that welcomes others in. Being hospitable, welcoming people around our table, grabbing extra snacks for neighborhood friends, and keeping a fridge stocked with cool drinks to share in the heat of summer. Really simple things, but it’s a posture we are trying to incorporate.

The fourth thing we are intentionally doing in this season is helping our kids learn who they are, what they are good at, and what they are passionate about. We do this because we want them to know that they are on this earth for a purpose and so much of that purpose is to see, love, and serve people around them. Our world is increasingly self-centered and generous living is incredibly effective at helping us see outside ourselves. In the opening example of why we gave, we wound up making the gift because my son told us “Mom, you know we talk a lot about my purpose….and xy and z is part of my purpose, and this is how this opportunity to give helps me do that.” We were floored. We made that gift so fast because, for him, it mattered. Conversation by conversation, he’s getting it.

It is challenging to model and be so intentional with generosity. And if I’m honest it means that sometimes I must be more generous than I want to be, but it’s shaping their worldview and it’s expanding mine. With all the incredible advances of modern technology I am concerned about the effect it will have on generosity if we aren’t more intentional than ever to encourage and model not just generosity with our money, but generosity with our time, talents, resources, and home. It’s way too easy to be busy and distracted. I know there are so many of you on this journey as well. So many rallying your family’s around incredible impact. I’m so thankful, keep fighting the good fight. Let’s raise counter-culture kids who are incredibly generous world changers!

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