“Generosity is doing something for someone else expecting nothing in return. Show up to give, not to get.”
All of life is a lesson in relationship building, whether we realize it or not. At the airport, the grocery store, on our way home in traffic, we are presented with opportunities to be generous to others. The unfortunate part is that not everyone sees it that way. Some people honk their horn behind you when the light turns green, let the door slam shut in your face as you walk through with an armful of groceries, or cut in front of you in the line at the movie theatre. Eventually, we all encounter people who are the opposite of generous.
When this happens, a feeling of justice starts to well up inside of us and we want to get even. We want to give them a piece of our minds. We want them to apologize for how they are acting. But the best thing to do in these situations is the unlikeliest thing: we must be generous, even when other people don’t deserve it, and here’s why:
The reason you give to others is not so that they will give back to you.
But it’s human nature to expect this, so when the recipients of our generosity don’t reciprocate with a thankful heart, we get upset. But we forget how the first tenant of generosity is to give with no strings attached. When we do this, it releases us from the burden of expecting that we will also receive something back. It also helps check our motivations to ensure we are giving with the right heart, one that’s free of demands. A gift isn’t really a gift when it’s got a mile-long list of requirements attached to it. The same goes for our giving. It has to be done with an open hand. Once we open our hands, we loosen our grip on what we desire, which is really to be appreciated.
Being generous in the face of ungratefulness produces patiences.
This is a tough one, and I’m sure it brings to mind times when you offered something to someone in the spirit of generosity and they weren’t thankful for it. This can be infuriating! But someone who can tolerate being wronged without taking offense is a patient person. And a patient person is also a generous person, because they are not easily angered or quick to take back a gift they’ve offered someone. A patient person understands that other people’s actions do not determine how or when they give. It is done purely because it’s the right thing to do. Impatient people are highly concerned with the outcome, and if it’s not one that satisfies them, they become angry and defensive.
But remember what Simon Sinek says:
The reason you give to others is not so that they will look after you.
Think about this next time you pay for someone’s coffee in the line behind you. Generosity is not an act we do to gain, but to give away. The act of giving should release us from the burden of expectations if it is done with the right heart. As soon as we attach an expectation to our gifts, they thwart the purpose of generosity which is to be selfless. Being selfless is not easy because it requires us to be humble. But it’s only when we are humble that we are able to truly give.
Humility produces patience, and patience produces generosity.
There are many more things we can be generous with than just our money. Think about your time. How can you commit 1-2 hours a week helping someone else? Maybe your mom’s yard needs mowed and it’s as simple as taking a Saturday afternoon to do it. Maybe your neighbor’s kid’s bike tire needs fixing, or the flower pots on your front steps need watering. Being generous with our time can seem even more difficult than giving away our money, but these are the types of opportunities that will shape us into generous people.
How can we start today by being more generous?
It might just be listening to the needs of people around you, or partnering with a church or non-profit that serves in your area. One thing is for certain, generosity requires being intentional with our time, our money and relationships. Being generous can and will shape us into better leaders who anticipate the needs of others and provide resourceful solutions. That’s the kind of leader we all should strive to be!
To your excellence in leading generously,