This fall, I had the pleasure of gathering with colleagues and friends from the Christian relief and development community at three different conferences.
I love learning and meeting new people at these events, but this year one observation really blew me away: We typically think of generosity in financial terms, but so many of these leaders are radically generous in sharing their life’s work. It was like they had a bullhorn and were shouting, “Here’s my life’s work – take it and use it however you can!”
For most of the world, innovation is viewed as intellectual property to be fiercely guarded rather than shared. While there is nothing wrong with profiting from hard-earned expertise and diligence, treating one’s knowledge and experience more like Wikipedia than a classified government secret proclaims a different Way … a way of unity, joy, and freedom.
The number of people I know who fit this description goes far beyond Christian organizations and outstrips my space to acknowledge them. So this got me thinking: How can we move away from a posture of protectiveness and choose to open up our lives and work in radically generous ways?
I offer five principles to help us:
- Our highest allegiance must be to God’s Kingdom. We experience freedom when we embrace the reality that our highest allegiance belongs to Christ and His Kingdom. His mission and our calling must supersede any commitment to a local church, employer, organization, or political party (Matt. 6:33; Phil. 3:20).
- Recipients of God’s grace will naturally become more and more generous. Jesus said that those who have been forgiven much will love Him more than those who see little need for God’s forgiveness (Luke 7:47). The people I know who live the most generously are focused daily on the wonder of God’s love shown through the Gospel.
- Our time on earth is short. No matter how we look at it, life is short. Those who recognize this have a sense of urgency that drives them to collaborate in order to accomplish as much as possible for God’s glory (Rom. 13:11; Eph. 5:15-17).
- Growth mindsets bring freedom. Stanford University psychologist Carol Dweck has pioneered the study of fixed vs. growth mindsets. People with a growth mindset do not see their intelligence or talents as fixed quantities that need to be protected or validated. They see life as a journey of development and discovery and are eager to stretch, improve, and share with others (1 Cor. 3:3-9).
- Rewards come later. The most generous people I’ve met seem to understand more deeply than the rest of us that their true rewards are coming later. The Lord has promised that He will reward His people for what they do (Matthew 6:6, 25:21; Luke 6:38), and this frees us from the tyranny of maximizing every earthly benefit we can muster for ourselves.
Jesus said that “it is more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20:35), and it is my hope that in every sphere of our lives, we will experience the blessing of sharing more openly. May we become people whose radical open-handedness – with our ideas, our time, our resources – ultimately points people to the God from Whom all good gifts come (Jam. 1:17).
Pause and Reflect:
- Read the Scriptures referenced in this article.
- If you are in a team, read them to each other. Which one speaks most pointedly to your heart?
- Write it out (even with pen and paper!), or text it to yourself to read later today.