From Struggle to Strength: Bringing Clarity to Our Generosity
The biblical principle of “prove to be faithful with little and God will give you more” is a pillar of stewardship that proves true time and time again. God gives the sowers the seeds in order to sow. Making this principle of stewardship your foundation brings freedom, fulfillment and joy.
My own journey of generosity took time to find this freedom, fulfillment, and joy. The journey has been full of frustrations, at times anger, and waste. It has been difficult. Traditionally, finances have been the number one reason for divorce. For a husband and wife to be on the same page with giving is not natural. A majority of families struggle in that area, and my family struggled for a long time there as well.
While we were struggling, I was exposed to some leaders in America with great teachings on this topic, and I finally figured out why we were struggling. I looked at my own journey and I realized I was stepping into every pothole and trap. I thought, ‘God, why does it have to be like this? Can I not just walk around a hole?’ And I came to the conclusion that maybe I need to step into everything so that I have the experience to help others not do that. I wish I could say to you that my journey to generosity has been simple, but we experienced severe difficulty in finances and lost our joy and focus.
Here is what I have learned in the process to regaining that joy and focus with generosity. My family was redeemed after seeing great clarity in five areas:
1. Understand your why.
Understand your passions. Often times our passions are wrapped up in our own individual story. The moment I give in alignment with my passions, joy comes forth in a big, big way. As my wife and I have increased our giving over the years, we moved away from general giving to things that aligned more with our passions.
2. How much do I give?
I had a sense that I was going to make a lot of money or be around a lot of money when I was a student. In my quiet times, God impressed that upon me, which encouraged me in my early years to be more studious. During this time, I built spreadsheets for how I was going to be faithful with my finances and increase my giving as my income went up, and I still have those spreadsheets to this day. My wife and I set goals at the beginning of the year, and we go after them.
3. When we give is important: give systematically.
I find that a lot of people withhold their giving to build their empires because they want to be the guy with the million-dollar check on stage, and they only do their giving then. It is laughable if you compare it to Scripture. In my world, when we get 10-12% return on our investment, it is a good day. But God’s return is 50%, 300%, 1000% or more. When we give is an important factor. We have given dutifully and creatively. When we wanted to give more, we gave stock of our own business, and help teach others to do the same.
4. Who you partner with matters.
Getting the wisdom and the ability to partner with the ministries you are doing work with is very important to me. I want to know if they are going after the goal of disseminating the love of Jesus with the same diligence and planning as I run my companies. Feedback from the organizations is extremely important. My wife and I evaluate every year how we feel about our organizations and how connected we are to the causes. We continually are on a journey of refinement and giving to fewer organizations but going much deeper with them in partnership.
5. Be intentional with what you give.
I figured out that giving is transformed the moment we go beyond writing the big check and we give of our time and self. This has even been through the mentoring and relationships with the leaders of the ministries we support. That is where real-life change happens. I am a very strong believer in international missions. My childhood journey from South Africa to America was an international missions trip, but I have also gone to Central America and back to South Africa with my kids on missions. This experience and involving yourself is life changing.
When we give, we give into God’s waterfall of grace and love for humanity, and I love being soaked with His love. Those who listen to God and invest intentionally with their why, how much, when, where, and what should hear as the servant did in Matthew 25- “Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.”