Developing Your Generosity Muscle

The word Generosity comes from the Latin generositas, which speaks to nobility, excellence, and magnanimity. The origins hark to the nobility, who were expected to be unselfish in sharing their plentiful resources with others.

In Today We Are Rich, Tim Sanders tells the story of his great-grandfather, Tommie. A successful farmer with a heart of service, Tommie was sought-out for his advice not just in farming, but also in financial matters and life’s dilemmas. Sanders says that Tommie “learned the value of giving the invisible: wisdom, connections, and reputation.”

Generosity does not come naturally to most of us. I wish I could say that I always give without any consideration for what I will get back. The hunger for recognition and a desire to make sure others know what I have contributed has caused senseless distraction in my life. I long to be like Tommie and other leaders who give for the sake of giving. Sanders quoted his great-grandfather as telling a critic, “I did it for the same reason a dog sleeps all day – because I like to do it, and because I can!”

How do I become a person who likes to be generous, expecting no thank-you, no plaque, no accolades of any kind? Strength-training in generosity begins in the mind. A mindset of generosity is developed when I learn to hold my possessions, talents, knowledge and connections loosely in my hands. I cannot believe that there are limited resources and that my role is to claim as much as possible from the reservoir.

Generous people are stewards of what has been entrusted to them – talents, wisdom, possessions –  so when someone else is in need they willingly and freely share what they have without expecting anything in return.

When I started my consulting practice I met with dozens of individuals trying to learn from them the keys to their success. I am so thankful for the way they shared their challenges, lessons learned, and secrets to success they learned along the way. It made my transition easier, and I am eager to share those insights, along with my own, with anyone wanting to start their own business.

Almost every person I talked with was extremely liberal with their time, talent and insights.  They were not meeting with me to see what I could offer them, but genuinely wanted to pass along to me from their experience. They gained a sense of fulfillment and pleasure from being able to help.

My idealistic nature can’t help but wonder what would happen if more people began exercising their generosity muscle in their workplaces, homes and communities. I have identified four things that I can do to proactively strengthen my generosity muscle:

  1. Give holistically. Look for people to give to from all areas of my life: at work, at church, and especially in my own family.
  2. Give personally. Take time to actually connect with others, don’t simply “bestow and be gone.”
  3. Give sacrificially. I need to give even if it makes me uncomfortable, gives the other an advantage, or wipes me out.
  4. Give freely. Jesus said, “freely you have received, freely give.” Although his was a spiritual context, I believe it applies to the larger sense of generosity.

When I strengthen my generosity muscle in this way I become healthier and bring healing, restoration and prosperity to those around me.

I would love to hear your stories of generosity – have you been the recipient of someone’s magnanimity? Have you been blessed to generously share with others? Post your reply as a comment.