Men Are Missing Out On Generosity

By Joel Leakey | 13 July 2016 | Comments (4)

Men Are Missing Out on Generosity

When I was younger, I read my way through a stack of Christian books on how to be a man. You might have seen them—all orange and black covers with men silhouetted against a Mad Max-looking landscape. For a couple of years, I tried to shape my sense of self around what I read in them: the bold, courageous man of faith who takes territory, works hard for his family, and provides for his own circle. 

I didn't find much on generosity, though. In those books, the idea of a generous man wasn't written off exactly, just not pushed nearly as enthusiastically as, say, a bear-hunting man. 

Couple that with the words I heard used to describe men in the Church. They weren’t usually words like ‘kind-hearted’, ‘lavish’, or ‘abundant’.

Eventually I realised these ideas didn't sit easily around the image of God's kingdom I knew, and learnt from growing up with a dad who was just as generous and kind as my mum. God's kingdom is kind-hearted. Abundant. Lavish. I'd seen that. And his kingdom people are, too—all of them. If we're God's people, then we're built for generosity. It's in our design, male or female. 

But these traditional images still hold sway with a lot of men, and, because we give power to the things we give our attention to, they close our eyes to opportunities for generosity. When opportunities come past us, radical, gentle, self-defying kindness is less of an option than it could be because we've let the warrior image do the thinking for us. 

Some men really are put off by the flowers-and-bake-sale image of generosity. If that's you, I'm not going to challenge your sense of gender or anything, don't worry. What I would say is to look at how Jesus frames generosity. He actually sets out generosity as a challenge. Luke 6:38 shows him laying it out like a gauntlet: “Give, and it will be given to you. Good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap. For with the measure you use it will be measured back to you.”

And think over this as well: when you miss chances for generosity, you miss chances to get what all those manly virtue books promised in the first place. That sacrificial warrior spirit? Where else do you get that but in dying to self and giving the money you'd put aside to someone who really needs it, now. That hard-working grit? Where else do you find that but in the character-forge of choosing kindness when you'd rather choose a beer or a nap. That danger, that risk? If you want it to, radical generosity can take you right into miracle territory as you partner with God. Just see Jesus and the feeding of the 5,000. I've found the beginnings of all of these things as I've made efforts to push into generosity. 

When the question becomes 'how could I show kindness to this person?' rather than 'how should I, as a man, act?', then men actually get what all those books promised. Generosity is the virtue that would give men all their grit and resilience and more. To others, generosity looks like gentleness, but to the heart it metes itself out in toughness. It's a tool that brings about the death of self and the birth of God's kingdom in us, men as well as women—if we let it. 


 

 

Posted by Joel Leakey

Joel Leakey is a freelance writer based out of Northern Ireland. You can follow him on Twitter at @joelleakey, but he warns you it's mostly puns.

comments:

Andrew Pickin

July 19, 2016 4:26 PM
Joel I very much agree with you. Generosity is a strong and important quality. In fact in a very real sense the generous person must wrestle with the tendency we all have to be selfish! The New Testament recognises the significance of generosity in every Christian community and we do well to encourage open-hearted giving both in that context and in the wider contribution we can make to our society.

Dave Clayton

July 19, 2016 5:12 PM
This reminds me of King David's question: "Is there anyone left of the house of Saul, to whom I can show kindness for the sake of Jonathan?"
How utterly different in spirit to some of the later kings, who ruthlessly eliminated all possible rivals.

Gil Farley

July 20, 2016 5:28 AM
I can agree with the text about giving, several years ago I started giving to several Christian charities as well as the Church and the following years I received unexpected inheritances!
God blesses us, Gil

John Cunningham

July 20, 2016 12:17 PM
It should not matter what gender you are to be generous - I can say I've seen many attitudes of expectation in life, work, home and church but what makes it generous it not an expectation of others but a choice in self, a sacrifice of sorts.

It is easier to live by the rule of "Treat people as you'd like to be treated" - if you are struggling, I am sure you'd appreciate some help but you wouldn't want to be talked down to so live life treating as you'd like to be treated and generosity becomes second nature. It is not an act, it is not an expectation, it is just life

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