BEYOND / Generosity: Big and Small, One in the Same

A Story from the Miyamoto Family

I consider myself a generous person. I also know and understand that my generosity can be selective and sometimes hidden within the comfortable corners of life that I — and every person at one time or another — retreat to when necessary.
In a perfect world, we’d all give to others during every waking moment. We’d volunteer our time, hand over our hard-earned money, and make it our mission in life to better the lives of others through unparalleled generosity.  But it’s not a perfect world and we are not perfect people.
And what often gets lost in the message of stewardship, fellowship and outreach, are our imperfections — as well as the notion that time not volunteered, money not given, and missions not completed don’t make us less as a member of society, a community or church.
We get caught up in “keeping up with the Joneses” and are left feeling guilty when we haven’t matched the offers of others. The family that volunteers each week. The couple that sponsors a program. The big check the church office received from a loyal and well-off member. These grand gestures of generosity impact the lives that are touched, but they can also make some feel lesser within their own journeys of faith and generosity.

“I’d love to volunteer each week, but I just don’t have the time in life.”

 “I’d love to cut a large check for the needy, but my family strives to get by on what we have.”

“It would be an honor to get out of my comfort zone and experience what one does in poverty, but it’s not my calling.”

What everyone needs to remember is that generosity has nothing to do with how big our generous gestures are in life.  Generosity is often defined as the quality of being kind and generous. And the root word of “generous” is often defined as showing a readiness to give more of something, as money or time, than is strictly necessary or expected or simply as the act of showing kindness toward others.

As Christians, generosity is the core of Christian values. It would be difficult to call yourself a Christian if you couldn’t also call yourself a generous person.
But the guilt of not being able to keep up with the Joneses — at least how we define that within the giving and generosity of the church community — can make us blind to the ways in which everyone can spread the goodness of generosity. Not just to our friends, family, and fellow church members, but to the whole world.  Generosity comes in many blessed forms:

  • A smile and “hello” to a stranger
  • The holding of a door for another at the supermarket
  • Introducing yourself to the new neighbor, the new employee, the new student
  • A pat on the back to a young athlete after a tough game
  • A visit to an elderly family or church member
  • Being kind to customer service employees and servers
  • Clearing your house of things you no longer use and donating them to Goodwill or your church drive
  • A shoulder to cry on
  • Reassuring words of support
  • The forgiveness of a grudge
  • A word of prayer for someone you know is struggling

When you compare a single generous grand gesture of X amount of hours per week, X amount of dollars per cause, or X amount of personal discomfort endured for the good of those in need with the hundreds upon hundreds of small generous gestures that you can offer throughout the course of a single day, you’ll surely come to the reasoning that generosity is not found only in those grand gestures that few can make or many are uncomfortable with or unable to offer.
Your generous gestures in life are not big or small, they are one in the same.  The world does need those grand gestures of generosity. But it even more so needs the flood of tiny gestures of generosity and goodwill.

Ken and his wife Amy have been Good Shepherd members since 2007 and have two sons: Jack (14) and Tyler (10).