The Joy of Generosity – A Story

Sometimes we forget that “It is more blessed to give than to receive.” Acts 20:35

Just yesterday evening I spent time with a worship pastor I am mentoring and his worship team.  I was planning on enjoying myself, but I was not prepared for the experience I received.

This worship pastor and I have been talking about rehearsal effectiveness, training worship team members, music theory, piano, and so many other things, and I was looking forward to seeing how he was doing and how he worked with his team.

I had never been to one of his rehearsals before, though, and frankly, I was a bit nervous.  I have never had the opportunity to speak into someone’s ministry in this way.  Would I freeze?  Would I have anything at all to say?

My mentor, Stephen Michael Newby of Seattle Pacific University, has given me guidance and encouragement many times, and I have wanted to do the same for someone else. Now that I had the chance I felt a bit tentative.

Sometime during the evening I remember praying, “God, give me something to say.”  The human side of me selfishly wanted to avoid looking like I didn’t know what I was doing, but the spiritual side of me really wanted to make a significant investment into this worship pastor’s ministry.  I blog regularly and I meet with this leader because I want to help others with what I have learned, even as I am still learning myself.

As I said, I was not prepared for the experience I received.  His team was warm, gracious and open to suggestion.  We had fun and they had a great rehearsal.

This morning I met with the worship pastor and we talked for an hour and a half about what is going well and what he could be thinking about.  We talked about how he can figure out the next steps for worship at his church, how to keep his voice healthy, how to encourage the newer and younger musicians on his team, and a myriad of other topics.

By the time we were done I was seriously jazzed because God had given me something to share that was of value to this worship pastor.  I enjoyed giving to him, especially because he is open to suggestion and learning.

This week, ask God for someone you can encourage with what you have learned from your successes and failures.  Giving trumps hoarding every time.

Who are you going to encourage and invest in this week?

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Why Life Isn’t Fair

We all know life isn’t fair; we just pretend it is.

We tell our children to abide by the rules of the game. Coaches sideline players for not playing fair. Sports officials and referees wrestle with rules and enforcement to make certain the game is fair.

But life isn’t like that.

We don’t even know all of the rules.

Yesterday we celebrated the generous life of my grandma. She died last Thursday at the age of 99. That’s the reason I haven’t been writing.

If life had been fair for her she would have passed on much earlier. As it was she endured patiently the health issues she encountered as she waited for her time to move on.

Life isn’t fair because life is broken. Once Adam and Eve sinned the world was hurled into darkness and decay. Today we continue to see the effects of that decision.

The problem with focusing on “fairness” is that it is completely self-centered.

Jesus was completely focused on others. Instead of fair he was focused on free/generosity. It was about what he could give, not about what he could get.

How about you?

Where should you be focusing on giving instead of getting?

What Do Andy Stanley, Marketing, and Good Marriages Have in Common?

If you’re thinking that Andy Stanley did a marketing campaign about a marriage series, perhaps he did, but that is not the link.

Better yet, perhaps Andy Stanley used a marketing scheme when he was pursuing marriage and looking for a partner.

Nope.  Creative thinking, though.  I’d love to read THAT story.

No, Andy Stanley, marketing and marriage share one thing:

Generosity.

Huh?

That’s right.

Michael Hyatt, in his blog post 3 Characteristics of the New Marketing, said:

The new marketing is fueled by generosity. As we were looking over the menu (at The Southern in Nashville), the server brought us free BBQ Shrimp and Oyster Southern appetizers. This was totally unexpected—and wonderfully delicious.

In today’s environment, the way to create wow experiences is to define your customers’ expectations then exceed them. This is exactly what our server did. As it turns out, “It is more blessed to give that to receive” is a brilliant marketing strategy.

Websites like Copyblogger talk all the time about how good content + generosity = successful marketing, which is completely the opposite of old/traditional marketing (think car salesman hard selling you on a lemon).  In the post A 7-Step Guide to Mind Control: How to Quit Begging and Make People Want to Help You, Jonathan Morrow says:

This isn’t about “You scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours.” It’s about generosity so overwhelming they can’t say no.

In a top message series at Northpoint Community Church Andy Stanley, the lead pastor, spoke about Staying in Love, and in the fourth installment, Multiple Choice Marriage, Andy points out one of the key choices we have to make.  Couples often have to make this choice daily or even multiple times per day.

We must choose whether or not to be generous with our partner.

When your partner forgets to do something, you can go negative or positive.  Option 1 is to assume that your partner is incompetent and, worse yet, does not care about you or the marriage.  Option 2 is to assume that your partner may have had a bad day and completely lost track of what he or she needed to do.

Be generous with your partner.  Over . . and over . . and over . . again, like Jesus was with you and me.

Give grace, because you are going to need it soon enough.

How can you be more generous in your relationships?