Parker Palmer wrote, “…the most important sentence I’ve ever written is that one word, “Enough.” Said on the right occasion, that word can safeguard one’s soul, and saying it comes more easily with age. These days I say “enough” without hesitation to anything that’s not life-giving for me and for the people and world I care about—whether it’s frenzy and overwork, a personal prejudice, an unhealthy relationship, a societal cruelty or injustice…I no longer ask, “What do I want to let go of, and what do I want to hang on to?” Instead I ask, “What do I want to let go of, and what do I want to give myself to?”
As fall descends, we enter the season of letting go. I appreciate Parker Palmer’s wise words about knowing when to say “enough.” In a world full of the temptation for more—more stuff, more work, more busy-ness—“enough” is a sacred word. But this boundary claiming isn’t just about paring back. It is about gaining the wisdom to know what to invest ourselves in with our time, talent, treasure, and temperament. I believe generosity asks us, “what do you want to give yourself to”? Our commitments, our actions, our words, and even our budgets become the answer as we live it out.
And this question isn’t just for the individual, but for the church, for my congregation and yours. What do we want to give ourselves to? What does God want us to give ourselves to?, well, that’s an even better question. We cling to our traditions and the things we have always done, we spend endless hours in committees and talking our way around, but what does God want us to give ourselves to now? Chances are, in our ever-changing world, it doesn’t look like what God was asking of us 50 years ago. I think we would do well to spend time with this question, in prayer and in communal discernment. Listen for God’s voice leading us—and then, may God help us find the courage to go where God sends us.
Rev. Stacy Emerson is the senior pastor of the First Baptist Church in West Hartford, CT and the Stewardship Consultant for ABCUSA. She is also the Coordinator for The Generosity Project which is about helping congregations deepen their understanding of stewardship as a call to generosity as disciples of Jesus; re-framing the stewardship conversation; and cultivating generosity in pastors, lay people, and congregations.