My entire pastoral life—really, my entire life—exists because of the kindness of others and their generosity toward me and the family. There have been zero years of my life that I’ve made it on my own. Zero.
I took a brief inventory, and here is what I’ve found without even thinking:
- Birth-18 (the home years): Mom and Dad and money from grandparents for Christmases and birthdays.
- 18-21 (the LSU years): Mom and Dad and some scholarship money and some work money, but come on, I wasn’t really pulling down the benjamins.
- 21-25 (the DTS years): Got married at 21. These years were covered by all of the above, the addition of in-laws, some wedding money (it went quickly), and some DTS scholarship money. I also wasn’t working FT at this point; Courtney was.
- 25-34 (the Baton Rouge years): All of the above, but we also added three kids, “bought” a home (mainly took on debt), and I started FT work. That work? Pastoring. The pay? Other people’s gifts to the church. I also pursued more schooling, which was largely possible because other people helped make sure it could happen.
- 34-Now (the Spring years): All of the above, but now we’ve added into it a new congregation supporting me, continued support from family, and who knows what else I’m not thinking about. Our vacations (often Pine Cove Family Camp) are even scholarshipped in some percentage.
My entire life has been impacted—directly or indirectly—by the generosity of others.
So when I say generosity is a personal value, you might think, “You don’t have much room to talk about this.” You’d be right. Or you may think, “It’s a value because he doesn’t want people to stop giving.” I’d see your point, but I hope that isn’t the case.
I love generosity because I’ve learned it from others, seen it in my Savior, and find that generosity is a better way to live than stinginess. Why do we give? Because Jesus did. Is it good to be a scrooge? No. I’ve watched the example people in my life—many of them my family or close friends from church—and have learned a model of generosity that I only hope to emulate, not that I have mastered.
But even as we have learned about generosity—and done all we can as a family to live generously—there is another side to it that affects me.Continue reading “Generosity: Giving With (or Without) Discernment”