This past year I have been leading many congregations through a stewardship program entitled, Consecrated Stewards. When I come into a church to discuss the issue. I am met with considerable resistance and hesitancy. As I dig deeper into the anxiety what I discovered is that many times the leadership has a “limited resources mindset.” Leaders will tell me, “Our people have limited resources” or “our church has limited resources,” and thus the next logical progression in this line of thinking must be that our God has “limited resources,” right?
Maybe this illustration can serve as a beginning point to shift this unbiblical thinking. For the past forty years, Eunice Pike has worked with the Mazatec Indians in south-western Mexico. During this time, she has discovered some interesting things about these beautiful people. For instance, the people seldom wish someone well. Not only that, they are hesitant to teach one another or to share the gospel with each other. If asked, “Who taught you to bake bread?” the village baker answers, “I just know,” meaning he has gained the knowledge with no one’s help. Eunice says this odd behavior stems from the Indian’s concept of “limited good.” They believe there is only so much good, so much knowledge, so much love to go around. To teach another means you might drain yourself of knowledge. To love a second child means you have to love the first child less. To wish someone well–“Have a good day”–means you have just given away some of your own happiness, which cannot be reacquired. – Bernie May, “Learning to Trust,” Multnomah Press, 1985.
Our God is generous. “Or do you have contempt for the riches of God’s generosity, tolerance, and patience? Don’t you realize that God’s kindness is supposed to lead you to change your heart and life?”-Romans 2:4. Our God is not a limited resource God, He is a God who gave us His best and most valuable gift in His one and only precious Son, Jesus Christ, for the redemption of the world.
Four Ways to Create an Environment of Generosity
1. Inspire – You need to model giving.
“What I mean is this: the one who sows a small number of seeds will also reap a small crop, and the one who sows a generous amount of seeds will also reap a generous crop.” 2 Corinthians 9:6
One congregation picks one Sunday to sow seeds with one hundred percent of the offering for that weekend going to a mission cause outside their walls. This act of generosity models for the church that when we sow seeds of generosity God honors and blesses that trust. This does not mean we see that returned in dollars back. We could be blessed by the impact that generosity has in the lives of others.
Life is a matter of building. Each of us builds something – a secure family, a good reputation, a career, a relationship to God. But some of those things can disappear almost overnight due to financial losses, natural disasters, or other unforeseen difficulties.
What are we to do?
Daniel Webster offered excellent advice, saying, “If we work on marble it will perish. If we work on brass, time will efface it. If we rear temples, they will crumble to dust. But if we work on men’s immortal minds, if we imbue them with high principles, with just fear of God and love of their fellow-men, we engrave on those tablets something which time cannot efface, and which will brighten and brighten to all eternity.” – Morning Glory, July 3, 1993.
It is our responsibility to instruct our flock on the use of money. This is not a necessary evil but important kingdom training in discipleship. Instruction engrains on the believers’ heart that their time, talent and treasures are important for the advancement of the mission of Christ.
“Education is an admirable thing, but it is well to remember from time to time that nothing that is worth knowing can be taught.” – Oscar Wilde.
You can’t just say “do this” and not lead people by getting out front and showing them how it looks to be generous.
One simple phrase describes how this looks in the life of the community of believers: “Give first, save second, live on the rest.” In this formula giving first honors God with our very best. Saving second builds wealth so we don’t feel the need to hoard or live paycheck to paycheck. And finally, living on the rest builds a life of contentment. Imagine what your ministry and life could be for God if we built a culture of generosity. Imagine the impact we could have for the kingdom.
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