March 2, 2015 –Susan

A friend recently shared a story with me about a businessman who lived in her area. Every year’s end, this man, in the poultry business in Northern Indiana, makes generous contributions to local non-profits and church organizations. This year, his business did especially well, so he gave away $375,000! Some of the checks were “small,” under $10,000, but multiple organizations received gifts of $20,000 or more! Wouldn’t it be incredible to write checks like this?!

He is generous because of his faith, and because he wants to inspire others to be generous. He succeeded; I am inspired!

Steve and I have actually had a similar outlook toward generosity. For many years, we have taken a day near the end of the year and talked about how much we can give away. We look at all the requests that have come to us for money, think about our passions and interests, and then we set criteria for our giving this year. When our children were young, we included them in this process. And then Steve writes the checks.

Our checks, by some standards, are small, as is the total amount that we give. Sometimes our giving involves hard choices related to who we give to and the amount we give. What happens when we’ve written our checks and another worthy cause comes to our attention? Do we give to general funds or for specific projects? Our answers to these kinds of questions change from year to year. It is an ever-evolving process.

This is one of the happiest days of the year for us. Almost always we give away more than we think we will give at the beginning, and that feels great! I hesitate to share this because I don’t want to seem prideful or self-righteous. I am not boasting. I simply know that we have been blessed beyond all reason, and so I want to share my good fortune with others, and I feel good when I am generous. I believe we are called to follow our generous, loving God’s example. That means we will also be generous and loving with others, and with our world.