I remember the day I began to understand. My grandfather is one who taught me – by his words and by his living he taught me the difference between tithes and offerings. The day I learned that my grandfather set aside 10% of his income as a tithe to the church and he set aside additional money to support special projects and ministries throughout the year – that day I came to a deeper understanding of tithes and offerings. And through his faithfulness and joyful living, he showed me what a life of generosity could be.
My understanding grew as I learned from Walter. A faithful member of the congregation who built a thriving business, yet regarded it all as God’s. Serving in WWII changed him, he said, and he came home to live the deep interconnectedness of each of us through Christ. All he had came from God, he said, even his very life. And through his desire to share from his abundance, he showed me the abundance in my own life and how much I had to share with others.
My understanding deepened as I learned from Bettye. The mother of a friend who is a gentle and kind soul, Bettye lives with grace her insight into the struggles we each have. You just don’t know what they might be dealing with, she said, as she met each one with acceptance and love. And through her generosity of caring, she showed me what it means to accept, support and love one another.
And my understanding came alive as I learned from Sister Kathleen. A beautiful woman of God, who teaches that we are not overseers of this world, but rather one part of a much larger whole. The Universe is alive with God, she says, from the smallest insect to the farthest star, connected through a web of life we don’t fully understand. And through her integrity of living in the world, she showed me that generosity means receiving and giving in mutual relationship.
From these mentors and others, I’ve come to understand that ‘stewardship’ means living a life of generosity. It means paying attention to what matters and giving the abundance of who I am so that other people and all of life might flourish.
How do you measure what matters in your life of generosity?