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am I really generous?

By Debbie Wright | 13 May 2015 | Comments (2)

I think the answer straight up is probably ‘no’. I can tick lots of boxes. I know lots of the theory and put it into practice in so many ways, but fundamentally, deep down in the bottom of my heart, I still put myself first. Why is that?

There are lots of different theories: human creatures are created in the image of a generous and altruistic God, but we all lie somewhere on the spectrum of generosity. One of my older teenage daughters is far kinder and more generous than her sisters; she is just hard-wired that way. But we live in a frantically busy, short-of-time world, with demands in many different directions which cause us to put our heads down and allow our protestant work ethic to take over. Our society and culture more than ever before puts the ‘self’ first. Being independent socially, emotionally and financially is seen to be the pragmatic solution. But our obsession with self has a flipside: the desire for achievement and fulfilment. If it’s not all about financial fulfilment then it is about experiences, skills, opportunities, fitness, health and our personal faith with God. And we subliminally impose these same values on our children.

About 25 years ago I heard an advertising executive give a talk about the preoccupation with self and how culturally and socially the rise of individualism has taken over the community, family, church, clubs, trade unions and so on. He then contrasted this with The Lord’s prayer and the very first word! We don’t pray ‘my’ Father; Jesus used the word ‘our’. We pray to our Father, and there is the nub of it. We have lost the sense of living in community by putting ourselves first, and therefore lost the art of being truly generous, of working, thinking, praying for and putting first the communities we are all in.

Writer and journalist, Sathnam Sanghera grew up in a Punjabi Sikh community in the West Midlands in the 1980s. His father was unemployed, spoke no English and was a schizophrenic. Not once did the family ever think of not looking after him. One NHS consultant confided in Sathnam that the Sikh communities were known for caring, loving and cherishing the most vulnerable members of their families. This is real community: generous, loving, serving, caring and sacrificial.

Have we lost this sense or community forever? In some ways Sathnam was blessed; his extended family all lived, worked, played and worshipped in the same small area of Wolverhampton. Our communities now often extend to the other side of the world. Our challenge in being truly generous is to intentionally and mindfully think of the different communities we find ourselves in: the school gate, the office, church or neighbourhood.

I am humbled to admit that I am probably least generous at home - with my husband, daughters and my own parents - in fact all people who see the ‘real’ me.

With God’s help I am trying intentionally to be a more generous person; to be open and receptive; to look beyond my own agenda; to be fully present and to listen well. As Paul says to the Romans, ‘Practice playing second fiddle’. Scrapping our own agendas and preoccupations is incredibly challenging but is also rewarding and joyous.

Love from the centre of who you are; don’t fake it. Run for dear life from evil; hold on for dear life to do good. Be good friends who love deeply; practice playing second fiddle. Romans 12:10, MSG


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Posted by Debbie Wright

Debbie Wright is Stewardship’s Head of Content and is passionate about generosity in all its guises. Besides occasional blogging and tweeting she creates resources and campaigns such as 40acts and Advent Wonder to inspire, engage and motivate the wider Christian community. Prior to joining, Debbie worked for A Rocha UK as editor of their national magazine and in a previous life worked as a TV producer/director for the BBC for 17 years.  Debbie is married to Graham; they have 4 daughters and a springer spaniel.  When not acting as taxi driver, she can be found on a salsa dance floor. Follow Debbie on Twitter @debwright99


Richard Denno

May 20, 2015 6:16 AM
Hi Debbie,
Thanks so much for your post.
Your message rings true for our family too.
Could you replace "Corinthians" with "Romans", and "12:1" with "12:10"?
Thank you for sharing so openly.
God bless you!


May 20, 2015 7:59 AM
You are very gracious for how you pointed out that error.


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