Unleash Generosity: How to be Generous Even When it Doesn’t Come Naturally


I have been so tight-fisted my whole life. I worked throughout high school and I saved almost every penny for college. If I was given birthday money as a kid, it went straight to the bank. I would never spend it. In my mind, money was to be saved and not spent. I held onto every penny for a rainy day. I was so busy saving that the thought of being generous with my money never crossed my mind.

I grew up in a family that didn’t live like everyone else. We rarely talked about money. My parents didn’t buy a new car when my dad got a raise. He actually drove a Chevy Nova that was consistently covered in bird poop. He parked underneath a tree at work and his car was the pooping target.  I remember being so embarrassed when he would pick me up from high school in his baby blue eighteen-year-old ‘poop mobile.’ Needless to say, my family didn’t spend extravagantly which was a blessing in disguise. My family modeled to me that we didn’t have to keep up with the Joneses (whoever that elusive couple may be).


Unleash Generosity: How to be Generous Even When it Doesn't Come Naturally 1
Unleash Generosity: How to be Generous Even When it Doesn't Come Naturally 2

It wasn’t until I was in college that I actually started practicing generosity and it was scary. I started to tithe at a local campus ministry group I was active in.  Then eventually I started supporting a child in Africa. I didn’t have a lot of money to be generous, but I felt like I needed to take that giant leap of faith. God was really working on my heart and the way I was thinking about money.

I remember one day when I was a sophomore in college, I felt God was saying that I needed to give everything I had out of my wallet. At the time, I had no idea how much was in my wallet, but I opened it up and gave every last penny. And boy did it hurt.

I needed to own up to the fact that money isn’t a security blanket. God provides for the sparrows and the flowers, how much more will God provide for me (Matthew 6:25-34)? Reading that passage is one thing, but living it out is another.

Instead of worrying about money, God was giving me opportunities to give and trust in Him. And God has a sense of humor because He gave me my husband, who is one of the most generous people I know. I needed to be with someone who is generous, so I could catch and experience that generosity first-hand.


The Mindset Shift

When my husband and I were dating, I remember hearing someone ask him if they could borrow his car.  I was shocked by his response. He said, “it isn’t my car, it’s God’s.” And he let them borrow it.

I was blown away with his perspective that everything he has is not his own, it is God’s. This truth wasn’t something new to me, but I had never seen someone live it out like my husband.  If I was asked the same question, my response would have been no.  I wasn’t open-handed with what I had and I sure didn’t live out the same belief that everything is God’s. I was the one who needed to change.

Having the mental shift to accept that what I own isn’t mine, it’s God’s, has helped me embrace giving in a new way.  It cuts out my selfishness and pride.  I have a new lens to look at other’s needs.  I’m still in the refinement process of becoming a generous person, and I’m ok with that.  I’m a work in progress.  

Giving has become a little easier over time, especially when we are able to meet someone else’s need. Those experiences help motivate me to continue practicing generosity. My husband’s generous nature has encouraged our whole family to embrace giving.  In our family mission statement, being generous is one of our Rich family traits.  We want our kids to be transformed by giving just as much as we are. Kids watch what we do.  If we are generous, that will be our children’s normal. I want my kids to start practicing generosity now, not when they go off to college like I did. 

It is easy to slip back into being busy and not noticing the needs of others around us, especially when we are feeling financially strapped.  When I start to notice that I am worrying about money more, I know it is time for me to be generous. Generosity isn’t a logical response to worrying about money, it is counterintuitive. But time after time, I have experienced how letting go and giving has helped me be less dependent on money, and more dependent on God.  There is even scientific proof that “generosity has both altruism boosting and anxiety decreasing effects.” according to recent studies.

The Benefits of Generosity

If you struggle with generosity like me, don’t be overwhelmed.  Every little act of giving counts, even if it is buying the person behind you in the drive thru’s order. We all know that giving to others feels good.  Giving shouldn’t be focused on increasing our own happiness, but it is a good side effect. Another study discovered that “planning to give away just a little bit of money had the same effects on happiness as giving away a lot.”  Start giving, because it will help others and be an amazing example to your kids, all while bringing you more happiness.  That my friend is a win, win, win situation!

If you don’t know where to start, I would recommend first tithing to your church.  If you don’t belong to a church, there are so many amazing charities out there to choose from. Beyond that, maybe set a certain amount of cash aside each month to bless others- it could be as little or as big as you want. 

In the meantime, I hope I can get to the point where I am generous by nature. Nevertheless, I will practice being generous because I serve the most generous God.

I’d love to hear your insights on generosity. Is generosity difficult for you? What has helped you be more generous? Please leave a comment below…

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