Overcome Obstacles to Generosity

On a paper napkin in a taco shop, Mike LaBahn sketched out his goal to give away one million dollars. While this might be easy for some and extraordinary for others, it seemed downright bizarre for Mike and his wife, Julie, given this was smack dab in the midst of financial chaos.

The couple, both of whom came from “rag-tag, fractured backgrounds…broke and broken,” as Mike says, persisted in their goal. They didn’t wait to be rich before helping single moms and others in need. Their little lawn mowing company, which struggled to keep a truck running, eventually turned into a thriving commercial landscaping enterprise. They’ve since reached their target, and with a refreshed goal to inspire others, have published a book called, Giving God’s Way, in which Mike chronicles their journey. You can pick up Giving God’s Way at mikelabahn.com

Generosity can be one of those polarizing internal struggles. I see my kids argue over a rubber band found on the floor and yet other times they will bless each other with gifts while smiling ear to ear. (We can learn about our natural selves from kids!) What creates this battle within us between stinginess and generosity? How do we overcome these hurdles to freely give in joy?

The LaBahns were motivated by their sincere faith in the goodness of God and the call to help others. Quite simply, they trusted what they could not see and worked hard to fulfill their vision.

Obstacles to generosity will always persist if we allow them. Mississippi, for example, is considered the poorest state yet consistently ranks near the top percentile for charitable giving. Like the widow sacrificially giving her mites, it’s a choice to be generous.

LaBahn, who’s not afraid to step on toes if it inspires difference-makers, says too many subscribe to the “UFO Mindset” — that is the perspective of “uncommitted, freeloading onlookers.” It’s a challenging assertion, but understand the motivation: Embracing a mindset of generosity can create true impact and personal freedom. Insecurity, complacency and apathy can be superseded by fulfillment and purpose.

Commonly, people believe generosity is for someone with more money or a special calling to give. Consider that God, your Creator, is a Giver first and has created you in His image. The Macedonian people were a poor and oppressed people, yet they were commended for their sacrificial giving. Their desire to give is what propelled them because it was by God’s grace that they gave:

For I testify that according to their ability, and beyond their ability, they gave of their own accord, begging us with much urging for the favor of participation in the support of the saints, and this, not as we had expected, but they first gave themselves to the Lord and to us by the will of God. 2 Corinthians 8:3–5

Putting generosity into action requires initial steps — even small ones. No one loses weight by thinking of being thin, nor does a single jog do the trick. Living generously requires commitment and practice. It also requires getting your financial house in order:
· Pay off debt
· Spend less than you earn
· Save
· Work hard
· Plan for the future
All these principles function in coordination along with a willingness to share.

Witnessing small successes on the journey can build faith and compel us to greater things. Don’t get discouraged by the bumps, but stay focused on the goal. LaBahn says, “It is never a matter of if God’s promises will be fulfilled, only when. And the beauty of these dividends is that they last forever and are of far more value than any return on an earthly investment.”

What obstacles do you face? Take action to live generously….

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