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How Generous Are You?

-Barth and Sally Middleton

Years ago we learned a lesson we’ve never forgotten. We were new recruits on a staff to train teens for summer ministry. The training week schedule offered only a few slivers of free time. We savored the mini-breaks—time for a quiet walk or a quick nap.

However, some staff members, needing relief as much as we did, chose to invest those precious minutes tutoring teens who struggled to complete assignments. They also listened attentively when teens needed to talk. Those leaders modeled generosity.

Years later we enrolled in a Christian education course. The instructor had great ideas. But rather than handing us a page or two telling us how to implement his proposals, he passed around a sign-up sheet for those who wanted a copy, at five cents a page. Throughout the course it was ten cents here, twenty-five cents there, with the distraction of a circulating sign-up page and the hassle of coins and picking up copies. The course fee could easily have covered the cost of those pages, but this leader was not generous.

Characteristics of Healthy Givers

Would those you lead consider you generous? Generous leaders:
• Delight to help people, putting needs of others before their own.
• Make others feel valuable and appreciated by giving of their own time and treasure.
• Receive personal strength and a lift by giving. Proverbs 11:25 says, “A generous man will prosper; he who refreshes others will himself be refreshed.”

Cultivate Generosity

Do you have lots of prizes crowding a storage cabinet? Divide them and give them to your teachers. Do you buy excellent ministry-strengthening books? If you read them once and then let them stagnate on your shelves give each one to a person who would profit from the content.

When preparing a budget for meetings plan to cover giveaways right along with conventional expenses. Include giving super snacks and the newest visual aids.

Watch for sales. When a discount store or your favorite office supply catalog advertises poster -board at a low price, buy a pile and give it to your workers along with a list of suggestions on how to use it.

Each summer, as part of our small town’s blueberry festival, the park fills with craft exhibits, flea market vendors and booths sponsored by local stores. We’ve learned to make tracks to the pharmacy booth. There we’ve found sticker packs for ten cents, yo-yos and pencils—all at closeout prices. Look for similar specials at sidewalk sales. “Regular people” buy one of this and two of that. We buy sacks full! Why? To give to those we teach and lead.

A generous leader takes time to figure out how to explain ideas simply. Better yet, instead of just showing a new review game or song, generous leaders give each teacher a ready-to-use copy. People will follow your lead because you give them a helping hand and they’ll appreciate you.

Everyone Can Praise!

If you don’t have a lot to give be generous with what you do have. It costs nothing to be generous with your praise. Publicly and privately, repeatedly mention to people the value of their work. Go beyond “I appreciate what you do” and say, “Those verses you helped your kids memorize will comfort and guide them their whole life.”

Psalm 112:5 says, “Good will come to him who is generous.” We’re pleased to see others become more generous by watching our example. That’s what happened to us many years ago as we observed dedicated staff members investing their time in teens. Make opening your hands and heart to others your leadership lifestyle.

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