I was once in a conversation with a minister I admired. He worked hard, loved his congregation, and was seemingly very productive. One day he and I were discussing a sermon I was preparing to preach. He made a suggestion and then offered a particular perspective on the subject of my sermon. I asked him where I could read more about this perspective. He said, “I could tell you but then I would be revealing my sources and I can’t do that.”
To the contrary, I believe that Christian leaders would do well to be generous. In fact, I believe there is nothing to be lost by being generous. The result is that you get to participate in adding value to others’ lives.
1. Be generous with your friends.
If you are a Christian leader and you are at a gathering of some kind, why not introduce your friends to one another. This can be particularly helpful to younger ministers or ministers who have not had the opportunity to get acquainted with other Christian leaders.
I will always remember a moment with my friend Ken Dye. Ken and I were talking at a function at ACU when he then greeted Dan Anders who preached for the University Church of Christ that met on the campus of Pepperdine University. Ken then introduced me to Dan. Dan and I went to lunch and began a friendship that lasted for the rest of his life.
2. Be generous with your resources.
Share what you have! That is the least I can do. After all, so many ministers have shared books, articles, website addresses, etc. with me. I am willing to share what I have. If this allows me to add value to someone’s ministry, that is wonderful.
3. Be generous with your praise and affirmation.
Pay attention and catch people doing things that are good, right, and noble. Look for opportunities to praise and affirm another. I especially want to do this for those I suspect receive very little praise or affirmation. I have found that with most people, if you will look long enough, you will see something that you can affirm.
4. Be generous with your attention.
This means that I need to put some energy into listening to others. Suppose for example that you have the opportunity to get together with another minister over coffee. What do you talk about? Are you prepared to ask good questions? Too many people use such a situation to go on and on about themselves.
I recall once having coffee with an older minister. I was a young minister and had hoped to ask him some questions about ministry. We got our coffee and then he began to talk. He talked and talked about himself. He talked about his church, the book he was writing, and where he was going to speak. I think he may have asked me one question the entire time we were together.
How has someone else’s generosity blessed you?