it doesn’t take a million dollars in the bank

song: below my feet by mumford and sons

read time: 7 mintues

at the beginning of the year, i wrote down on a piece of paper: “i want to learn what it means to be a generous person.” i wanted to understand generosity, but more than that— i wanted to have a generous heart.

growing up — i was lucky, i had the best role models for generosity: my parents. they obtained the spirit of giving — in every season and in every way. if someone needed some cash, they were there to give. if someone needed a car, they’d loan theirs. if someone needed a job, they’d give them one. if a family needed clothes, we’d clean out our closets and give what we had.

while i had the greatest example of generosity, i have to admit — i still had it wrong. i always thought that generosity was tied to money. i mean, that’s the tangible thing that everyone always seems to need. right? money. but as a college student, a humanitarian, and a starting entrepreneur — money was not something i had, let alone an excess of. my bank account was a constant struggle and i had no idea how to manage money let alone to be generous with it.

because of this, i never saw myself as a generous person. yes, i was kind. but being unexplainably generous is different.

it sounds silly — but one of my dreams, over the last couple of years, has been to be able to pick up the bill at a restaurant for a table full of friends. i am not sure when or where this idea came to my mind — but it did. and for years, it’s been my goal.

at the beginning of the year, as i set out to be unexplainably generous — i made the decision, i was going to be all in. in every way possible, i was going to find way to be generous even if i didn’t have money, even if i couldn’t pick up the bill at a restaurant. i was still going to look for avenues to be generous.

my eyes were constantly open — searching for opportunities to be generous.

webster defines generosity as: readiness in giving.

that was me, i was ready.

the desire to be generous was burning in me — because, to be truthful, i’ve been given so much. i have been given freedom, a voice, a family who believes in me, clothes on my back, a roof over my head. while some days, it may seem if i don’t have everything i need — the truth is, i do. i lack nothing. i wanted to be generous, because i have been the recipient of extravagant generosity.

mumford and sons has a song, “below my feet”, and the lyrics always get me. they hit my soul. “keep my eyes to serve and my hands to learn.”

you see — i think our eyes need to be the first ones to serve, to desire a generous life. if our eyes do not have a spirit of generosity, we will constantly pass up opportunities to serve people, help people, and love them well. our eyes are the watchmen— they let our heart, soul, and body know what is going on in the world around us so we can not just watch on the sidelines, but jump in where we can.

my eyes began to see needs — needs that i could fill without money. i saw people needed a logo, so i’d make them one. i saw people needed a friend, so i’d take them out to coffee. i saw people needed ideas for business, so i’d share my knowledge. i saw people needed encouragement, so i’d give them my words.

opportunity after opportunity began to come — i wasn’t just finding ways to fill the needs of my my friends and family, but to strangers as well. i found myself having encounters with people on the beaches of san diego, in bookstores, on airplanes, in coffee shops, and a million other random places.

my heart was learning the spirit of generosity. i was learning that generosity is much greater than money. the days went by, random experiences continued to unfold, and i was learning the most important concept: give what you have. while i didn’t have money — i did have time, words, and a skill that i could offer people.

i realized — webster was right: generosity is the readiness of giving. when your eyes are ready to serve, and your heart is ready to take action – you’ll find that what is in your hands is enough to give to the people around you.

you don’t need a million dollars in the bank— you only need what is already in your hands. that’s where generosity starts. if you have a skill — use it. if you have time — give it. if you have words burning in you — pass them on. what you have, people need. generosity is not dependent on money, it’s much greater and much more powerful than a monetary value.

let’s get real for 2.5 seconds — Jesus didn’t have money, but he was the most extravagantly generous person to walk the earth. he gave his life, so we could experience freedom.

point and case.

you may not have money now to be generous in the way that you dream of — but i promise you this: if you are responsible with what you have and give what you have, you’ll be given more. you’ll be entrusted with more ways, opportunities, and avenues to exhibit generosity.

what if starting now — each of us decided to be unexplainably generous to the people we encounter? what if our eyes were ready to serve? what if we had a readiness to give burning inside of us? what if we stopped waiting for “someday”  when we have “enough” [fill in the blank] to be generous and started giving what we have now?

i am confident — we’d see the world change. not in some lofty way, but we’d see it really change. generosity is contagious. once you’ve been the recipient of unexplainable generosity, you cannot help but want to find a way to pass it on to someone else.

remember chain letters from back in the day? you’d write ten letters then mail them to all your middle school friends, those ten friends would then pass a copy of the letter on to ten more friends, and then somehow people from the other side of the world ended up with the same letter. all because, people were faithful to pass on the letter to ten people.

generosity works in the same way. so what if we started a chain of generosity? but instead of stopping at ten — what if we never stopped passing generosity to people?

your generosity today can impact someone’s life tomorrow. i guarantee it.

i don’t know about you, but that is how i want to live my life. i want to leave sparks of generosity everywhere i go — hoping that my sparks catch and create a wildfire of generosity that cannot be contained.

when i’m old and grey, i hope i hear stories — of how something i did when was twenty-something impacted someone who then impacted someone else who then impacted someone else. i hope i hear the wildest stories of how, together, our generosity changed people, families, communities, and nations.

my story of generosity isn’t over, but i can tell you this — my dream finally did come true. as i have sought out ways to be unexplainably generous with my skills, words, and time — i have found that suddenly the finances were there to be generous financially too. yes, my businesses were growing — but mainly, my perspective changed. generosity had become my priority.

generosity isn’t for the elite — it’s for everyone. anyone can join in, anyone can give, any one can receive.

consider this your invitation — let’s be wildly generous together. let’s be all in as we set out on a mission to give what we have, big or small — knowing that unexplainable generosity is the contagious factor that can change the world.