People often ask me why I go to Generous Giving events year after year. From their perspective, it makes sense to try it once, but why keep going? Aside from the fact that the room is filled with many dear friends, the reason is simple. I like beautiful things. (Read: I struggle with materialism.)
I’ve never felt comfortable being called a generous giver—there are so many people in the world giving more sacrificially. Until recently, it became clear how fitting a description it was. Boxes arrive at our house on a regular basis. Addressed to me. Are they gifts from others? Not usually. Just things I ordered. Gifts from me, for me. Me, me, me.
Things to enhance my wardrobe, upgrade my home, or improve my life. Yet again. When I stop and think about it, I gift myself very generously. Apparently, this is not a secret. Encouraging people send beautiful catalogs, emails, and postcards to inspire me in this direction. (So kind of them.) It isn’t a stretch to assume that the publishers of these epistles would like me to think that their products are the answer to whatever ails me on a given day.
Bertrand Russell said, “It is the preoccupation with possessions, more than anything else, that prevents us from living freely and nobly.” These words are a gut punch. Materialism is a fast-growing weed that chokes out the good in my life. At Generous Giving, it’s a different story. We hear from people living differently.
Scattering good seed. Reaping great joy. People boldly using their money to address problems in the world that need fixing: prisons, human trafficking, rebuilding cities for the common good. People giving up vacations to allocate money toward creating spaces where kids are loved. People starting restaurants and giving all the profits away. People sharing their home with others, to cut costs so they can give more. People giving ownership of companies in order to make a difference in their city.
Several years ago, I heard Randy Alcorn say, “Giving is the only antidote for materialism.” I wish was a one and done-er. I’m not. I’m a remedial student who needs to keep meeting real people living lives of lavish generosity. Each year I realize generosity is better caught than taught. My takeaway this year was: a culture of radical generosity might just change the world. It did 2,000 years ago.