I have a simple question for you that I hope you take time to process. I know it’s hard to feel like this is a personal conversation because we aren’t sitting across from each other in a coffee shop, but my hope is that you read these posts conversationally, leaving your thoughts and questions in the comment section below. My simple question is this, in what areas of your life are you generous?
I don’t want to get too philosophical with this post, but I do think defining generosity will help answer this question. Giving a lot is what pops to mind immediately when I think of generosity. But I don’t think generosity simply means giving in big proportions. I believe for us to be truly generous we must be sacrificial. That means to be generous is to give sacrificially.
I’m guessing most of you thought of money when I first mentioned generosity. I know I did. Financial giving is the primary way Americans show generosity because disposable income is a norm in our culture. But, how else can we can be generous? How about our resources – information. Time – that’s a big one! Have you ever been generous with your love? I want to touch on these last two areas because these are the areas in which the Lord has been challenging me.
If you’ve been following my monthly blog posts, then you know I’m starting a disability ministry at my church. Progress has been slow for the last couple of months. But as I wrote in my last post, I believe God slows us down when He wants our attention. He’s trying to show us something that we wouldn’t have caught if we were running full speed ahead. At least, that has been true for me. And one painful lesson He’s taught me is:
How to live generously.
I actually thought I was a pretty generous person. That should have been my first clue that I had room for improvement. It’s like when people brag about how humble they are! My pastor recently taught a short series on what it means to be generous, and God used it to show me how ungenerous I really was. I realized that giving out of my surplus was not sacrificial. It just made me feel good. I thought about the disability ministry I was starting. I had been giving of my time to start it, but it was time that I had to give. I had opened my heart to serve people, but with a subconscious understanding of how far my love would go. Then, when I had a busy week I would push the ministry responsibilities off. Or if I felt like someone’s complicated situation was more than I could handle, I’d expect others to pick up the slack.
I realized how ineffective I was in God’s hands when I wasn’t willing to live generously. I needed to start sacrificing time to pray for our church leadership, for our volunteers, and for my co-leaders in ministry. I needed to start reaching out to families even if I wasn’t sure if we could meet their needs. That’s what ministry is all about. It’s a call to be generous with everything God has given you – not just in the areas where God has blessed you. When we’re sacrificial in our giving, it opens more space for God to fill our lives, rather than us trying to fill it with the temporal things of this world. And if we’re filled with God more each day, then each day will be better than the last.
Rachel Roleder serves as the Supervisor to the Cause 4 Life, Global Missions and Internships Department at Joni and Friends. Rachel enjoys learning more of God’s design for His church as she leads teams of interns on disability ministry outreaches all over the world.