If I have my pastor in the car with me and we go through a drive-thru at my local Chick-Fil-A and I purchase lunch for the car behind me, I am classified as “generous”. It does not matter if I am robbing God with my tithes and offerings, I am now classified as a person practicing a generous lifestyle.
Pastors enjoy preaching on generosity. It is an easier message to preach than responsibility giving or the tithe. In fact, pastors are now even encouraged to talk about generosity rather than tithing. This is because those who give responsibly are at embarrassingly low numbers. Relevant Magazine reported in a May 8, 2016 article that only 5% of professing Christians tithe. Furthermore, Christians give only 2.5% per capita compared to 3.3% during the Great Depression. Let’s be honest, why make 98% of your church angry with preaching? Stick with generosity language.
For those of us in the audience, generosity is an easier message to hear. We are left with no measurable form of behavior. We are not called into any form of accountability or standard of giving.
The pastor is happy because everyone said, “Good sermon pastor.” The congregation is happy because they were made to feel good because cooking their neighbor a meal took them off the hook from a financial commitment. Everyone wins….except the lives of the poor, under-resourced, diseased, orphaned, widowed and spiritually lost who would have been the beneficiaries of an estimated $165 billion of Kingdom revenue. But at least the person in the car behind me got a free lunch and my passenger called me “generous”.
Generosity, as it is currently being discussed, is completely subjective. Stewardship is measurable.
God is calling leaders to more than just generosity. Generosity (as we often define it) is not enough. He is calling leaders to sacrifice. The following is an easy formula for you to remember:
Responsibility (Tithe) + Generosity = Sacrifice. It is sacrifice that God wants.
But even though many have hijacked the word, God is calling us to generosity. So what are the practices of a generous lifestyle? One of the best pictures of generosity recorded in all of Scripture is King David just prior to his death. 1 Chronicles 28 and 29 gives us a detailed account of King David transitioning the kingdom to his son Solomon. What strikes me about King David’s generosity is it was not just a financial act to help fund the construction of Solomon’s Temple. He did provide significant financial support (more later), but he also provided for us a true picture of what a generous life looks like.
The following are 7 Habits Of Highly Generous Leaders:
King David invested in Solomon spiritually. He discipled him. In 28:9 he taught him about the importance of knowing, serving, and seeking God.
King David was generous with his praise and encouragement. On multiple occasions he reminded Solomon he was selected by God and therefore, to be strong and do the work he was called to. Leaders know encouragement is needed but never enough.
It also needs a plan to be successful. Inspiration has its reasons. Knowing he would not be alive to see it, King David still generously gave Solomon all the plans he had previously made for the Temple’s construction.
Regarding being generous with his personal finances, King David made an estimated $4+ billion investment in today’s money into the Temple’s construction.
King David was also generous with his platform and influence. He praised Solomon in front of the entire nation. A leaders’ personal platform is not for their personal benefit or gain. Leaders should always use their influence and platform for shining the spotlight on others and improving the lives of as many people as possible.
Finally, King David was generous in the area of pure joy. He celebrated accomplishment. A leader who does not know how to celebrate is not a leader worth following. It is written that King David “rejoiced” when the people gave willingly and the Temple was funded. King David teaches us that a leader’s success and true joy is found in the success of others.
The model of a generous life is when you invest spiritual truth, intellectual capital, money, praise, encouragement, influence and joy in another person’s life. It takes all of these and more to have a generous life.