According to Merriam Webster, generosity is the quality or fact of being generous. Seems simple enough, but is it? What I do know is that giving to others will not only benefit them but also benefit us.
Synonyms include: bigheartedness, openhandedness, openheartedness, and unselfishness
Antonyms include: cheapness, meanness, miserliness, pinching, selfishness, and stinginess
We all know the meanings of both sides of the word generosity.
You may have heard the phrase – “Be a river, not a reservoir”. If not, it simply means to live life with an open hand and not a clenched fist. Or give away the blessings received instead of holding onto them. If your hand remains open it can receive more. If it remains clenched nothing can get in.
I recently wrote about idols that hold us back. One of those can be money. Some people sadly (my opinion) believe that the accumulation of wealth is their mission in life. Financial setbacks happen! So, making our lives about holding onto resources versus sharing them with others can become a difficult obstacle to overcome. 50% of us have been through at least one divorce (also sad) and some have had serious issues because of it. Others have been in accidents or failed business deals. It matters not the cause, but the after effect. Monetary loss sometimes causes profoundly serious behavioral issues, not to mention the more obvious lifestyle impacts.
Perhaps that is why scripture provides wisdom with these old and new testament bible verses:
But who am I, and who are my people, that we should be able to give as generously as this? Everything comes from you, and we have given you only what comes from your hand. – 1 Chronicles 29:14
For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. – Matthew 6:21
Whoever loves money never has enough;
whoever loves wealth is never satisfied with their income.
This too is meaningless. – Ecclesiastes 5:10
Those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge
people into ruin and destruction. – 1 Timothy 6:9
It doesn’t matter if you are Christian or Jewish (references from both scriptures) or some other faith, because this is not a “sermon” about how bad money is, but rather a hopefully thought-provoking blog regarding generosity and how good it is. After all, who better to have time, talent, and resources to share than those who will do so?
That takes me to not only living in general but leadership and the value of generosity. The worst of my management career was when I was so insecure that I wanted to “hoard” the wisdom and knowledge I had gained. The best of and the current state of my management career is that I want to “share” everything that I have learned to help others be more successful.
When I think of my life and career, it feels like I am a pretty high-speed vehicle going from A to wherever as fast as I can. And much of that trek was very much like how I ski – not particularly smooth, but with tenacity, velocity, and determination. What that simply means is that it isn’t always pretty. Have you ever been there?
“Better a diamond with a flaw than a pebble without.” – Confucius
I am not a big Confucius fan, but this comment hits me – “Right between the eyes”. This bit of wisdom encourages me and should you also. In other words, we may not always hit the mark regarding our delivery or our application, but if we have a generous effort, and are intentional and committed our generosity with others will shine through.
Herb Brooks of US Olympic hockey fame was what we call a “ballbuster” but eventually, his skaters figured out how much he loved them and wanted them to succeed. He laid everything on the line for those kids and they won a gold medal against all odds. Remember what sportscaster Al Michaels said during the movie The Miracle? If you don’t, rent it! It is worth it! Especially now, during what our nation is going through.
“Do you believe in miracles? I do!”
There is so much more to say about generosity. Whether it is our time spent with employees needing to build on their strengths, helping our children with homework or reading classics to them at bedtime, sharing what we know with others and building a succession plan for them to take over for us, or helping others in need financially, there is truly no replacement for generosity. I am a man of faith and I believe that what I have, I have been given… by God. And because of that, I know I can’t out-give God. If we all become rivers instead of reservoirs, open-handed instead of clenched-fisted, imagine the impact!