Tuesday’s post started our conversation with April Tam Smith, a New York City-based young professional living a life of generosity. Today, she shares about the lessons she’s learning through marriage, stepping out in faith, and the advice she has for those in a new season.
Generosity played a role in how you met your husband. Tell us about that.
Graham came to visit a Bible study I led. I’d been playing Generous Giving (GG) videos over the previous weeks and made a reference to the organization. And he was intrigued enough to speak for the first and only time that night and asked me what GG was all about. I ended up sending him all my favorite videos from GG and I Like Giving. Two weeks later we ended up meeting for coffee.
In the course of that conversation, I discovered he, too, was committed to generosity and was reverse tithing—giving 90% of his income and living on the rest. We were really intrigued by each other. I found out later he’d called his mom and told her that same night, “I think I met my wife.” We even got engaged at a Generous Giving conference!
Given how important generosity was to each of you as singles, how do you approach giving decisions as a married couple?
To be honest, it was of the biggest points of tension early on. We’ve been on a journey of figuring it out how to go about it, especially as we navigate cultural differences in our approaches too. Graham is very intentional about hearing me then and working together so both of our desires are met. I’m very grateful for that.
You’ve started a pretty audacious new path on your generosity journey.
Yes! Before I met Graham, God was challenging me to give away more. I began exploring how to generate a source of income committed to just giving. After Graham and I met and got married, I had the courage to be more radically generous. Through a number of circumstances, one of my clients came to me and asked, “What if we start a business together and give away all the profit?” After a lot of prayer and encouragement, we signed a 15-year lease in a building next to the trading floor where I work. We’re opening a restaurant called P.S. that will employ people who need a second chance: women who have been trafficked, people getting out of prison, those who have been homeless.
Getting P.S. off the ground is one of the hardest, scariest things I’ve ever done. I’m discovering the story doesn’t always come wrapped up neatly with a bow, even when you’re following God. We’ve spent more money that I thought we would and we’re still not open after two years. But God has been so faithful. He’s using the people we want to employ to encourage me, to preach the gospel to me. And He’s teaching me perseverance—just because something isn’t going well doesn’t mean you’re doing the wrong thing.
Speaking of lessons, it’s graduation season. What advice would you give someone just starting out?
Two things come to mind. First, work on building godly character. One of the things I first admired about Graham was his character. When we choose kindness, patience, integrity, people see glimpses of God and start asking more questions.
The second is to give, even when you don’t think you have a lot. Start early with that healthy habit. Think about this: What if God increases our income to increase our standard of giving, not standard of living?