Generosity – A Tribute to My Papa
What is Generosity?
The University of Notre Dame’s “Science of Generosity Project” defines generosity as: “the virtue of giving good things to others freely and abundantly.”
I love this definition. It’s so simple, yet broad enough to allow our minds to expand on it. It also leads us to ask some follow-up questions.
- What are “good things?”
- How frequent is “freely?”
- How do you define “abundantly?”
Part of me wishes there was an exact answer to these questions. That would make it easy to determine whether or not we are generous.
Another part of me is learning to lean into the not knowing from a tangible standpoint. To me, genuine generosity is from the heart, it’s experienced, and more than anything it’s love.
What Does Generosity Look Like?
We’ve done our best to define generosity, but what does it look like? For me, it was my grandpa (Papa).
My Papa was the most generous man I knew. I have a feeling anyone else who knew him well probably felt the same.
He passed away a little over a month ago and it’s been really hard on my family and me.
One of the things that has helped us/me mourn is the stories we’re hearing about interactions other people had with him.
I wanted to take this quarter’s newsletter to honor Papa and the example he set of what it means to be generous.
In the definition above, we talked about giving “good things” to others. What constitutes good things?
One of the big things I noticed in my grandpa was that he always gave his full attention when talking to someone. He was present. When he spoke to you, you knew he was listening and you knew he cared.
He gave his time. When it came to people, he was not in a hurry. If someone showed up to the store (he owned a retail clothing store since 1965) right before closing time, he would tell them to “c’mon in”. He would help them find what they needed.
He gave his love. Anyone that knew Papa, knew how much he loved people. He loved his family and was a big family man, but also made others feel like family.
He gave of his talents and gifts. Papa volunteered in his church for many years. He always had a beaming welcoming personality and gave that to his church to greet people as they came in on Sunday mornings. Whether it was their first time or they’d been coming for years, he made them feel welcome.
He also gave financially. He did this by supporting the church, non-profits, and other things. He also did this by making big price cuts or just giving clothes/shoes away for customers that may not be able to pay. He always picked up the check (you had to sneak your card to the waitress to beat him to it) and looked for ways to help out.
These are just some of the “good things” that he gave.
To me giving freely, means that you have no expectations of anything in return.
This was how Papa always gave. He never expected anything in return and didn’t give to someone hoping it would come back to him somehow.
After he passed, I learned of one example of him giving freely. It was something he did on more than one occasion as well.
Papa would find out that someone locked their keys in their car after they had finished shopping in his store. He would ask them if they had a spare set at home. After they told him they did, he would, without hesitation, give them the keys to his truck and tell them to go get the spare keys.
He gave out of the goodness of his heart. He truly believed and took heart in Jesus’ words: “it is more blessed to give than to receive.” Acts 20:35b.
What does it mean to give abundantly?
To me, it means to make it a part of your disposition, a part of who you are. It’s not calculated, it’s genuine and from the heart.
My Papa followed Jesus and there are a few verses that he lived out and do a pretty good job describing having an abundant mindset when it comes to giving.
“Freely you have received, freely give” Matthew 10:8b
“Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share.” 1 Tim 6:18
What Does this lead to?
It seems like someone that generous would have nothing or always be stretched thin. That’s the lie we tell ourselves.
My Papa was a genuinely happy man. He truly enjoyed helping people, he loved his family, and he was loved by many.
He truly believed (and experienced) the next part of the verse quoted above: “so that they may take hold of the life that is truly life.” 1 Tim 6:19b.
Papa gave many good things both freely and abundantly and he got to experience the good life. My hope is that his story will encourage you to consider being more generous.
We truly believe that generosity and giving starts in the heart. Once you’ve decided what you would like to give, there are some strategies to make sure you do it efficiently.
Be on the lookout for our Monthly Minute for this month as well as November and December. In those, we will discuss some strategies to maximize your charitable giving.
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