Are you a Generous Mind?

Are you a Generous Mind? If you are intrigued by the idea, this is a place to explore what it means to you. Our blog focuses on helping you to learn what it means to be generous with what you know. You will find helpful tips and encouraging examples that will inspire you to release your ideas to the world! Find out more at www.generousmind.com.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Seven billion ideas and counting

It’s easy to see the number of people climbing and grow worried, but when you think about the potential of a person…the ideas they have, the love they have to offer, the contribution they can make to our world, it can be exciting too.

Just think of it—if every person had just one significant idea in their life, then seven billion people means seven billion significant ideas to work with! Sure we’re not all Einstein or Shakespeare or Martin Luther King Jr. We may not create major shifts in our world, but each of us affects our part of the world even if it’s in a small way.

And as the population grows, so our responsibility to capture ideas that will help others becomes more important. Matt Ridley has an interesting perspective on the situation in his book The Rational Optimist. Read Chris Marshall’s summary on Ridley’s thoughts. The idea is that innovation may help us solve the challenges of a growing population. Just think of it. The more people we have, the more ideas we have to build upon.

What one idea do you have that could help others even if in a small way?

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Thoughts from a Bowl of Goop

Orange goop slipped between my fingers and found its way under my nails as I diligently pinched each pumpkin seed into the bowl. This was going to be a big job and so my mind began to wander.

I started thinking about God and wondering, “Why do we love God when we can’t see him? What makes our hearts reach out to him?” I thought that maybe it was because he was our creator and created things always look to their creator with gratitude and love.

I thought about how it’s the same with kids and their parents. Even before they know whether their personalities would click or they would agree or even like each other…they love their parents with an unconditional love.

What creates that connection? Then I started thinking that in both cases, it’s because the one is essentially part of the other. Every created thing reflects its maker just as every child reflects the characteristics of both parents.

The song from my one of my earliest Sunday school memories began to play in my mind, “Oh, how I love Jesus, because he first loved me.” Of course. We love him because he loved us first. How simple. How true. We can love because of his love. We exist because of his love.

Some drama was brewing in the house and the noise finally drew me out of my thoughts. I rinsed the goop off my hands and left the wondering behind.

In the midst of the Halloween craziness, I hope you have time to let your mind wander into God’s spaces and realize how much he loves you and why you are mysteriously drawn to him.

When you think about God, what are the things that you wonder?

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Generosity or Control…What You Can Learn at the Pet Store

Our daughter’s parakeet is warbling and chattering away as I write this. She brings so much joy to our house with her little personality and beautiful chirping. I’m thinking back to the day we were at the mall and we visited the pet store. The manager took an interest in our desire for a bird and spent about 20 minutes asking us questions and educating us on kinds of birds, what they are like, cost, and other things to consider when selecting a flying pet. He seemed to find true joy in sharing what he knew with us. His style was not pushy, but generous. He encouraged the burgeoning animal expert, affirming her research and engaging in an educated discussion of birds.

After some comparative shopping online, several weeks later, we went to a large pet store to select a parakeet. The woman working the department said to me, “You’re not planning to put a bird in that cage are you?” I stammered at the harsh tone of her question, looking at the cage we had brought from home. The woman then went on to educate us on the appropriate ways to take care of a parakeet. When my daughter tried to chime in to the one-sided conversation she was either corrected or shot down. In spite of this treatment, our daughter bought the bird and has been very happy with her friendly and happy personality. While she came away with a bird…I came away with a stark contrast of a generous mind with one that was not generous.

But what makes one a generous mind and the other not? After all, they both gave information about birds. Intention is the invisible difference. From my perspective, the man at the mall seemed to be trying to add to our knowledge of birds in order to enhance our enjoyment and experience with a new pet. The woman at the larger pet store seemed to be trying to get us to follow the rules as she saw them. One intention was generous, the other was about control.

Can you think of a time you have shared information for the sake of control?

Tell us about an experience you have had with a generous mind.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Update from River Town

Have you read Through the River; Understanding Your Assumptions About Truth? We have an update from River Town on the Through The River blog.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

The Splendor of His Provision

17 Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. 18 Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share. 19 In this way they will lay up treasure for themselves as a firm foundation for the coming age, so that they may take hold of the life that is truly life. (1 Timothy 6:17-19 NIV)

Are you enjoying the provisions God has put in your life?

Have you ever gone through your day, sitting in front of the computer, walking down fluorescent-lit hallways only to come out into the light of day and cover your eyes from the brilliance of the sun? Without having enjoyed the outdoor beauty of the sunrise, it is hard to take in the sudden beauty of the sunlight. Life is like that. We are surrounded by gifts from God, but we stay inside, letting the blessings go by unnoticed. Then, in rare moments, we are struck suddenly with the splendor of his provision only to go back inside for the remainder of our day. Still the beauty remains, whether we notice it or not.

1 Timothy 6:17 says that God “richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment.” It’s not just about existing…it’s about joy too. How wonderful to know that we can put our hope in a God who provides everything for us, not simply for our survival, but for our enjoyment. The sun not only provides warmth, but illuminates the yellows, oranges and reds of the deciduous trees in fall. Our friends provide security, but also laughter. The life God provides may not be what we ordered off the menu, but our circumstances are what God can use to draw us closer to him, and in him we will find joy.

Do you have security knowing that God will provide for you?

The rising and setting sun each day reminds us that God will provide. It is with this security—knowing that everything is God’s and that He will take care of us—that we can be generous with what we have. At Generous Mind, we believe that includes ideas as well as other resources. The capacity for creativity, problem-solving, and humor come from God and we have the opportunity to share those gifts with others.

And think of it. Verse 19 says that when we are generous, we will be rewarded with life. This not only means that God smiles when we give our resources to someone, but when we write a blog post that glorifies him, help someone solve a problem, or make someone laugh. When we give of ourselves we are being generous.

What resources has God given you that you are willing to share?

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Bringing Passion and Experience Together


It is natural to downplay what we do not possess. It is one of our first defenses when we are faced with our own inadequacies. We see our age – whether young or old – and affirm it as a huge advantage. We also look at our experiences and compare them to what other’s have done.

And as we go about our comparisons we reduce those around us; limiting their contribution in our minds and our spheres of influence. One of the places where this is happening in dramatic fashion is the realm of leadership. In this liminal time of transitions where everything is being reframed around new philosophies, financial realities and technologies, there is an unnecessary struggle for leadership.

Young leaders have grasped a vision for how the world must be reframed in these new times. They bring passion and excitement to their roles as they seek to remake their industries, nonprofits and churches based on the new rules governing our world.

At the same time older leaders have a wealth of experience and knowledge that they seek to bring to these unstable times. They have walked through tough times and good times. With both they have learned how to lead and develop organizations that stand the test of time.

Both of these perspectives are true, powerful and vital to the organizations trying to thrive in today’s realities. But when young and old leaders sit in the same room, they are not affirming what the other brings to the table. In fact, I mostly see disconnects, discouragement and divisiveness. Older leaders refuse to validate the passion and new thinking of the young. And young leaders refuse to affirm the experience and context that older leaders bring to their roles. And as each downplay the other’s significance, they wipe away any opportunity to leverage both passion and experience together for the good of the causes they represent.

But it doesn’t have to be this way. Whether you are a young leader or an older leader reading this post, you have the opportunity to stand firm in your identity in Christ, confident in your value as a Kingdom leader and humbly extend your hand to another. By affirming what other leaders bring to your cause and encouraging them in their role, you will see amazing synergies begin to take shape.

If you are ready to do that, I would like to recommend that you read the following two posts by Jonathan Pearson, a younger leader who serves as Communications/Online Pastor for Cornerstone Community Church in Orangeburg, SC. I love his heart to help younger and older leaders communicate and engage.

If you are a younger leader, read his post called “3 Things Younger Leaders Need to Say.” http://jonathanpearson.net/2011/05/17/3-things-young-leaders-need-to-say/

If you are an older leader, read his post called “3 Things Younger Leaders Need to Hear.” http://jonathanpearson.net/2011/05/12/3-things-young-leaders-need-to-hear/

Make sure you read both posts and ask yourself how you can foster a healthy leadership dialogue.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Memoir: Self-Centered or Self-Giving?

Today, Stephanie S. Smith shares about the memoir and how sharing your story can be an exercise of a generous mind.

Stephanie S. Smith is a twentysomething writer, editor, blogger and literary publicist addicted to print and pixels. She runs her business, (In)dialogue Communications, from her home in Upstate New York where she lives with her husband. Follow her blogging about embodied faith, creative life, and millennial culture at www.stephindialogue.com or @stephindialogue.

America seems to have a love/hate relationship with the memoir. This genre has risen in popularity over the past decade, with advocates praising its transparency and the inspiration of human triumph over the odds, and critics accusing it of syrupy, self-centered drivel.

I’ve read memoirs that fall into both categories, and while at times personal narrative slides into an egocentric universe of one, I would argue that the memoir is a powerful creative outlet for self-giving.

Memoir as Hospitality
Telling your story is a deeply personal act, requiring confidence and vulnerability. We do not invite suspicious strangers into our homes to sit at our table; neither do we entrust the tragedies and triumphs of our lives to just anyone. Storytelling is an exchange that only happens in the context of great confidence. And to invite a person into your story is a powerful act of hospitality.

Memoir as Community
In 1 Thessalonians 2:8, Paul describes the effects of hospitality in his ministry to the local church, “We loved you so much that we were delighted to share with you not only the gospel of God but our lives as well, because you had become so dear to us.” (NIV 1984) Love for others, rather than selfishness, provokes us to share not only the gospel truth, but the personal and intimate details of our lives with others. Following this model, personal story-telling through memoir opens the door to community, creating a safe environment for others to empathize and share their stories as well.

C.S. Lewis once said, “We read to know that we are not alone,” and memoir is perhaps the best literary form to meet this need in the life of the reader, as self-giving narrators tell their tales and open the door to universal community of the human spirit.

Thursday, October 06, 2011

What is Success?


We all want success—to feel like we’ve accomplished something and done it well. But because success ties to personal goals and desires, there is a discrepancy between what people consider success. Not only do people in general have different expectations, but individuals can have mixed or conflicting desires related to those expectations. The question isn’t simply, “What is success?” but also, “Who defines success?”

For Christians, it’s the classic Sunday school answer, “Jesus!” But how do we take the goals and desires of Christ and apply them to the work in front of us? It’s a challenge, but it can be done…and it will look different for everyone. That is what is so hard. There is no objective standard for success contrary to what our world tries to convince us of.

For example, suppose Jesus impresses on you in your devotions that he desires you to grow in faith as you serve him. (see Luke 7:9) Now let’s say you’ve been working all morning on a presentation that will decide whether you get an assignment you have been hoping for. Success in your mind would be for the meeting to go smoothly, for your presentation to be accepted, and for you to be selected to head the project. So how do you pray? How does Christ see success in this situation? What will cause you to depend on him in faith? Can you entertain the thought that he might be glorified even if you don’t get the assignment? What if he wants someone in the office to see how you deal with disappointment? God may be up to something entirely different than you expect…expect it!

So again, how do you pray? Let’s go back to Sunday school for that one too. “your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.” Matthew 6:10 (NIV)

Are you asking God to help you define success or are you using the metrics of the world to create your definition? Ask God to give you new perspective on success this weekend and see how he changes your focus in the coming weeks.

Tuesday, October 04, 2011

Teamwork is NOT cheating


I love how ending credits are now integrated into the movie itself. Whether bloopers or snippets or a wrap up scene, the movie-makers have decided not to waste this valuable time and space without integrating it into the entertainment experience.

But have you ever wondered why there is so much time dedicated to the credits? Rows and rows of names scroll by, communicating to us that this movie did not come about through one person, but it took a whole team to pull it together.

Creativity is like that…more heads make an idea better.

Working in teams definitely takes a shift in thinking from our very independent mindset to a more community focused one. Reminiscent of our school days, we almost feel guilty for pulling other people into the project for fear that we will be caught cheating. But the ability to work in groups should be seen as a gift and a skill that can result in great products and services.

Generous Mind values teamwork. Because we (Jon and Mindy) work together as a team, we see everything through the lens of teamwork. We are most fulfilled when we are working with others who are seeking, forming and fostering healthy teams. It’s a core value for us—one that affects everything we do.

What ideas are you working on that could benefit from a team forming around it? Who could you pull in to help make your idea better and bring it into reality?