“You’re one of the most generous people I know,” she said warmly.
I was stunned. I must admit, my first reaction was, “I certainly hope not!” but my self-deprecating thought remained unspoken. I merely thanked her for saying so, and the conversation shifted gears. Her comment stuck with me, though.
A Guiding Principle
A couple of years earlier, I had decided to make generosity a guiding principle for my life. To this day, I can’t really say why, other than being struck by the enormous need in the world. It was frightening to see the world’s wealth possessed by an ever-shrinking percentage of the population. It was distressing to know there’s enough food grown every year to feed the world, but half of it ends up in first-world garbage cans while the marginalized of the world go hungry. Frankly, it would have been easy for me to throw up my hands and say, “What difference can I make?” But I didn’t. Instead, I decided to help one person, and then another, and then another.
Gravitating to Generosity
Now, whenever I have spare change I give it to the homeless who ask. I donate to the charity canvassers outside the store or at my door. My wife and I have amped up our giving to our church and our favourite charity. We give to campaigns as major needs arise. I’d be lying if I didn’t tell you there are times when selfishness and self-interest intrude, but thankfully I keep gravitating back to generosity.
Generosity Shaped My Behaviour
However, the woman who had complimented my generosity knew nothing of the commitment I had made, nor the amounts I chose to give. Her opinion was based solely on our simple, friendly interactions. I was startled to realize that my desire to be generous was shaping my behaviour in all areas of my life, not just charity. It had begun to influence all my thoughts, my words, my actions. It had become a part of who I was. Generous actions lead to a generous heart and a generous spirit, and this woman could see it in me, shining through.
We are all wired with the light of generosity within us, we need only flick the switch.
So, let’s let it shine.
David Barker is a Gift Planning Consultant at Abundance Canada. For more than 40 years, Abundance Canada has effectively helped Canadians with their charitable giving in their lifetime and through their estate. To learn more or arrange a free, no-obligation consultation, call 1.800.772.3257.