Millionaires seldom smile

By Steve Pierce | 25 November 2009 | Comments (1)

So said Andrew Carnegie, the 19th Century industrialist and fabulously wealthy man. He might have added, ‘until they learn to give’. Carnegie is also one of history's great philanthropists with a legacy of libraries, schools, universities and the lives that they have and continue to change to this day. I guess he smiled a lot.

More recently, secret millionaire Tony Banks was all smiles (and some tears) when he visited Liverpool and stayed in the parish of Christ Church Walton Breck where I was Vicar for 11 years. (By the way, Anfield had crazy moments but the place was not as the programme suggested; the great people were!). Banks, a Falklands veteran and succesful businessman gave £130,000 to various Liverpool projects, including DaisyUK. Most compelling, however, was his time with Lee Sanger, who returned from Iraq with post-traumatic stress disorder. Tony gave Lee the opportunity to be generous himself, handing him £30,000 for the charity of his choice (Combat Stress).

Tony Banks left Anfield having changed lives, including his own for it seemed he found some healing of his own memories. That is what generosity does. It changes the giver as well as the one who receives. But why is this?

Years ago I met a 'bodger' in Shropshire using a traditional pole lathe to turn beautiful wooden pieces. Because pole lathes are powered only by the bodger's foot a bodger must work with the grain of the wood and so produce stronger, more durable pieces.  Imagine for one minute God as the bodger and us, the unworked pieces of wood.  To give of our time, our talents and our treasure is to work with the grain of how God made us. When we live generously, when our giving means something and costs something we reflect the nature of God himself: 'For God so loved the world that he gave....' (John 3:16).

Not to give is to reject the person God created us to be.  Giving and living generously makes us stronger, frees us from the chains of materialism, opens us up to a full life, hope and healing.

"Through the testing of this ministry you glorify God by your obedience.... and by the generosity of your sharing with them and with all others while they long for you and pray for you because of the surpassing grace fo God that he has given you." 2 Cor 9:13-14

“What we do for ourselves dies with us. What we do for others and the world remains and is immortal.” Albert Pine

“We cannot do great things on this Earth, only small things with great love.” Mother Teresa

"Money is like muck, not good except it be spread'." Francis Bacon

Secret Millionaire Tony Banks in Anfield (4OD video)

The Bodger's Ball 2009 [video]

Andrew Carnegie [Wiki]

Suze Orman on generosity - a secular perspective


Steve Pierce
Posted by Steve Pierce

Steve Pierce was born, raised, educated, ordained and employed in Liverpool and is the Director of Learning and Stewardship for the diocese of Liverpool. He supports, of course, Everton.


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April 25, 2010 2:59 PM
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