Is God calling you to live more generously? I have never asked this question and heard no as the answer. Every time I ponder this question, God challenges me to a greater level of generosity—not because he wants me to give all my time, talent, and treasure away to others, but because he wants me to live a free and happy life. The happiest people I know are the most generous people I know, and they seem free from the things of this world in a way that is to be admired.
We are all invited to that happiness, and generosity is the path that leads us there. But the problem is, life gets in the way. The demands on our time, energy, and finances are enormous.
If we are to grow in generosity, it needs to be an intentional effort. We are not going to just stumble upon greater generosity. We can all do something to be a little more generous. Here are 7 simple ways you can become a more generous person.
- Start with gratitude.
Generosity begins with gratitude. Are we grateful for all the blessings in our lives? We are at our best when we are grateful. It is impossible to be grateful and be in a bad mood. It is when we step away from gratitude that we become irritable, restless, and discontented.
- Make generosity a daily habit.
Every day, make it a priority to do one generous thing. Maybe it’s buying lunch for the homeless man by your office building. Maybe it’s taking a few minutes out of your day to talk to your neighbor. Be generous with your praise and encouragement. Be generous with your compassion and patience. Be generous with your love. Whatever it is—and no act is too small—daily acts of giving will build a habit of generosity.
- Give to everyone who asks.
In the Gospels, Jesus tells us to give to anyone who asks. That sounds unrealistic, doesn’t it? If you opened up your wallet every time someone asked you for money, you would run out pretty quickly. But giving isn’t first and foremost about money; it’s about giving yourself in some way. Offer encouragement, or take the time to really listen to someone who needs it. Take a minute to say a short prayer. Find ways to share some helpful resources or a particular talent. There is always something to give when someone asks.
- Give your good stuff.
Many of us clean out our closets and give our old things to the poor. What if we started giving our good stuff, items we actually enjoy or even want but don’t need as much as someone else? Giving something we actually like might hurt a little, but it can help us grow. It also honors the dignity of the person we are giving it to.
- Reach out to someone who is lonely.
Mother Teresa once said that loneliness is the greatest kind of poverty. And there are lonely people everywhere—in our neighborhoods, schools, churches, streets, even the grocery store. Visit a hospital or nursing home, be kind to strangers by offering a smile or a helping hand, or call relatives and friends who live alone or are going through hard times.
- Pick an organization or two to support.
There are many organizations doing great work. Which ones address something you are passionate about? Which ones do you believe are really making a difference in the world? Select the ones that are most important to you and commit to supporting them regularly, whether by donating money or volunteering your time.
- Give a little more than you think you can.
Every time you give to someone, challenge yourself to be a little more generous. If you’re about to write a check for $20, make it $25. If you’re going to donate a coat, give away a scarf, too. If you want to buy a homeless person a cup of coffee, add a sandwich.
We cannot do everything, but that doesn’t mean we should do nothing. Don’t let what you can’t do interfere with what you can do. And what we can do, all of us, is look for small ways to be generous with the people around us whom we encounter every day.
Generosity is about much more than giving away money or material goods. Being generous is not just something that we do; it becomes a part of who we are. By intentionally practicing regular acts of giving and sharing, you will indeed become a more generous person—and be happier for it. May God bless us all with an eagerness to live generously.