If we all won the lottery, we probably would use a good portion of it paying bills for someone who can’t, building houses for the homeless, or making sure our hardworking parents don’t have to work a day in their life anymore.
Some of us think we can only be generous with money, when really, we can be generous with everything we have: our time, attention, humor, personality, etc.
Here are a few simple ways you can practice generosity toward the people you encounter on a daily basis (oh, and these ideas don’t cost more than $5):
Buy coffee for someone
If you see someone having a bad day or maybe you know they’re going through something tough: maybe it’s a project at work or a fight they just had with someone they love, perk up their day with a cup of their favorite coffee. It’s a seemingly small gesture that will brighten their day.
When someone comes to me with a problem, I usually immediately want to fix it, to take the hurt and stress away from that person because I care. But one of the greatest things you can do for someone is simply listen. If they’re sad, be sad with them. If they’re stressed, comfort them. If they’re angry, sympathize. When we share what we’re feeling and get all the bottled up thoughts and feelings out to someone who just listens, it does make a great difference. Be generous with your listening skills.
My coworker (I call her my work mom) does this thing where she randomly comes over to me, drapes her arm around my shoulders, gives me a squeeze and says, “You look like you needed a hug today.” It always gets me choked up because it shows she took the time in that moment to read my body language and respond in love. Be generous with your love.
Respond to an offense with gentleness
So your S.O. is upset about something at work. Perhaps it’s not the best time to tell him he didn’t send you his regular ‘good morning’ text (take it from someone who knows). And maybe he/she snaps at you or says something he/she didn’t mean, but in a stressful moment, they reacted negatively. Don’t add to the negativity. Instead, talk to them in a gentle tone and offer encouragement, support and love. Be generous with forgiveness.
There’s a long line in the grocery store. Someone in front of you is going slow in rush hour traffic. A coworker throws you a last-minute project. You can respond in exasperation or grace and patience. The first reaction you may have is to get impatient, but take a breath and show people you’re different because of Jesus. When everyone else is rolling their eyes and tapping their feet, laying on their car horn, or talking about the co-worker behind his/her back, you can be different. Be generous with your patience.
How can you be generous with what you have right now, in this moment?
*Featured image: Mayr, Flickr Creative Commons