The Generosity Project is a collaborative effort between ABCUSA, regions, and local congregations. The Generosity Project aims to help pastors re-frame the conversation around stewardship and generosity in their congregations. Bi-monthly blogs help support new growth and understanding as we deepen our ministry and discipleship. The reflection below was provided by Rev. Stacy Emerson.
Generosity is an Attitude
I have been reading Michael Ward’s book Abundance: Creating a Culture of Generosity, and at the outset, he takes a pause to define two words in a very particular way:
“Abundance: I believe that abundance is a mindset and not a condition of wealth. Abundance is recognizing the One who provides us everything and recognizing that it is not only enough, but enough to share.
Generosity: This is not only for the uberwealthy among us. In fact, much of the time those who are most generous are not the wealthiest. The generous are the ones who have learned that the joy of material wealth is the ability to share it with others for the common good with no expectation of receiving anything in return.”
The first definition caught me. When we consider the word “abundance” we think of having extra or more than enough. But can we still perceive “abundance” even when it feels like times are tight? Usually we say to ourselves, I will give more when I am solvent or when I get a windfall. Then I will be generous. But if abundance is not conditional upon wealth, but a perspective about the real and near blessings of God, the whole picture is changed. Generosity becomes not a condition of wealth, but an attitude. We can “afford to be generous” because we recognize the ways God blesses us. Maybe we can’t make a huge financial gift, but we can nurture gratitude; we can be ready to say “thank you” everywhere and all the time; we can learn to listen and spend time in the company of those who need us; we can find a way to ease someone else’s journey just because we know the abundance of God whose strength sustains us.
And so generosity is an attitude, and not just for the “uberwealthy” as Ward puts it. Generosity is an intention toward the world to offer whatever we can to help make it a better place, to nurture God’s kin-dom on earth, and to help God make God’s wildest dreams a reality. Those of us who know the abundance of such a God who gives us everything we need to answer God’s call will always find ways to be conduits of God’s loving grace. It’s what generosity is all about.
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.