I have been thinking lately about what generosity looks like in the life of a leader. To the point, I am wondering what this should look like in my life. What does it really mean to be a leader characterized by generosity? What does a generous leader do? To be generous means “to be liberal in giving or marked by a forbearing spirit.” The opposite attitude is marked by cheapness, meanness, and stinginess–although these traits could be demonstrative or quiet attitudes of the heart.
The Bible talks much about generosity as an attitude for all who follow Christ. In Acts 2 we find the word “generous” as a trait being manifested by the early followers of Christ as they shared physical blessings in common with one another. These new believers were making sure that there were no unattended needs among them in the distribution of food. In 2 Corinthians 9 Paul exhorts the Christians in Corinth that they will be enriched as they prove themselves generous–which will lead to many forms of thanksgiving to God as others receive what the Corinthians give. In 1 Timothy 6 Paul urges the rich in this world to be ready to share and to do so generously. If they do so, Paul stresses that they will be storing up treasure in heaven. In 2 Corinthians 8 Paul notes the great generosity of the Macedonian church in giving–but makes clear that their generous giving was not reflected in an overall amount, but in the attitude of their hearts to give beyond what they were able.
These teachings and principles apply to every follower of Christ. But what could these principles uniquely look like in the life of a leader?
1. A generous leader looks toward the needs of others. Face it–it is difficult to be generous with any resources if you are unaware of the needs around you. Are you attentive to the needs of your audience? Are you attentive to the needs of your followers? This requires that a leader is not self absorbed. This kind of leader must have his or her eyes on the horizon, always looking for the needs he or she may be led to meet. You can only display generosity to the needs that come to your attention. Be attentive.
2. A generous leader is enriched by making available all of the resources at his disposal. A leader has many resources available to them. Money or funding is not the only object of a generous spirit. A leader’s most precious resource may be their time. Are you open to the divine appointments in your leadership life–the ones you did not plan for? Can you make room for divine interruptions that come your way everyday so that someone else may be benefited and blessed? God may call on a leader to be generous with people. A sign of great generosity is the ability to give away authority, power, and future leaders. Are you able to release leaders to someone else so that they might have what they need to make an impact? You have to have a kingdom mindset to pull that off. It may be that as a leader you simply show more forbearance toward those who are difficult to lead.
3. A generous leader is marked not so much by how much he gives but by how much more he gives. It is clear in God’s economy that it is not the size of the gift that is important. It is the attitude of the giver and the willingness to go beyond normal means that pleases God. Again, this could relate to money, time, people, technology, tools, strategies–anything at the disposal of a leader. Are you willing to give until it hurts, and still be joyful in the giving? Scripture says that this kind of giving will reap an eternal reward.
I am challenged by this. I like to give of myself only as it is convenient or noteworthy. I can be generous in one commodity, but not in another. I don’t mind sharing with you an idea or innovation. But don’t ask me for an emerging leader or more time. Sometimes I can appear generous, but my attitude stinks. You wont know it, but I will–and so will God.
It seems that generosity is most profoundly expressed in the cross. The grace of the gospel allows me to receive that which I had no right to and could never earn. Why do I hold back in the shadow of the cross? Why do I hoard? Why am I ever stingy? Why am I unwilling to sacrifice?
May you and I grow as generous leaders!