John Bunyan once said, “You have not lived today until you have done something for someone who can never repay you.” It is with that spirit and conviction that I write this call to generosity. As church planters and pastors, we are constantly exhorting and encouraging those around us to live and to give generously. After all, we do have a biblical mandate as Scripture reminds us in 2 Corinthians 9:11, “Yes, you will be enriched in every way so that you can always be generous. And when we take your gifts to those who need them, they will thank God.” I want to offer some practical reminders to help us create and cultivate a spirit of gratitude and generosity in our hearts, through our lives, and among our people:
We are blessed to be a blessing
As a fellow church planter and leader out in the field, I have been so encouraged by the Send Network. It truly is a brotherhood like no other. Living Hope Church is now six years old, but in those early years I have to admit I loved going to the mailbox and seeing an envelope with an address from Alpharetta, GA. However, just as with any gift, the danger is we can become accustomed to these gifts and begin to think that we are entitled to them. I am simply asking us to remember what Christ said in Luke 12:48, “To whom much is given, much is required.” So the next time you go to your mailbox and are blessed, ask yourself the question, to whom can I be a blessing?
“You have not lived today until you have done something for someone who can never repay you.” – John Bunyan
We are conduits not reservoirs
A couple of years ago, I began to think about the generosity of the Send Network and thought it was time to become more faithful and a better example in practicing this in my own life, among our church staff, and to our mission partners. As a young church plant, we strived to adopt other church planters and bless them as the Lord provided the opportunity. One year our students took a mission trip to help another one of our Send Network church plants. I shared with our student pastor that I wanted him to designate some of those funds specifically for blessing church planters and their wives as the Holy Spirit led him and the team. Where do you think I got that idea? He called me later in the week and asked if they could spend more money to bless a church plant that needed toys and furniture for their nursery area, and of course we helped them. Now this spirit of generosity has been passed on! I believe that is one of the goals of the Send Network.
If you want to build a culture of generosity among your people, you must set the example and model generosity personally.
We are to give not just live
Winston Churchill once said, “We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.” It does not matter if you are planting a new church or pastoring an existing church, we must prioritize generous giving. I love to hear some couples say they are going to wait to have children until they can afford it…good luck with that! In the same way, we as leaders can have the same mindset that we cannot live a generous life until we attain a certain level of income or lead our churches to give generously until the budget is at a certain percentage. If you want to build a culture of generosity among your people, you must set the example and model generosity personally. As you strive to love Jesus more every day and understand that you can never outgive God, generosity will naturally be an overflow from your spiritual life into your practical life. Remember, you teach what you know, but reproduce who you are.
Published February 22, 2016