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

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Generous Minds are Reading Minds

How many books do you have on your "to read" pile right now? Some of you might have 15 and others may have none at all. Either way, you might be doing very little actual reading these days. What with family, friends, multiple jobs, volunteering and entertainment, who spends dedicated reading time?

Now we know that many of you do, but you get the idea. It's hard to focus on reading (especially when it isn't the latest fiction book everyone is talking about). Our attention spans are getting shorter and the books seem to be getting longer!

But not reading is not really an option . . . is it? What we have seen over and over again is that the ideas that you put into your brain are the fodder and raw material that allow you to develop new and creative ideas to share with the world.

That is why being a Generous Mind requires you to be a reader. You have to have new and different inputs into your life in order to create new and creative ideas to share with others. But the trick isn't to start reading just any book. Here are some tips to be intentional with your reading:

1. As C.S. Lewis famously said, "It is a good rule, after reading a new book, never to allow yourself another new one till you have read an old one in between."

2. As you read a book that is meaningful, research who influenced the author and read their books/content as well.

3. Read from many different disciplines and as you read ask yourself what you can learn from this very different area of thought.

4. Ask friends to share the book that has most impacted them this year and then read them.

5. Mix it up between books that encourage, inspire, challenge, entertain and educate. You need all these inputs.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

When the Poor Become Generous

Today's post is by Chris Horst
Chris Horst serves as director of advancement for HOPE International. Chris spent time doing microfinance work in Romania and has visited many of HOPE’s programs across the globe. He completed his undergraduate degree in business at Taylor University (Indiana) and his MBA at Bakke Graduate University. He currently lives and works for HOPE in Denver, Colorado. Chris and his wife, Alli, are parents to one son, Desmond, and active members at City Presbyterian Church. Chris & Alli write on their blog, Smorgasblurb.

When the Poor Become Generous
By Chris Horst

It is more blessed to give than to receive.
How many times will you hear these wise words this holiday season? This is my favorite time of year primarily because of this season’s emphasis on giving. The charitable and gift-giving yearnings among us all are stoked and encouraged more in December than at any other time of the year. This spirit is encapsulated and affirmed in what might be our favorite Christmas saying: It is more blessed to give than to receive.
The axiom could not be truer. Giving is a joy. Research suggests that generous people are happier people. Generous countries are happier countries. Benevolence brings vibrancy to our faith. Historically, openhandedness and abundant giving have been the fragrance of the Church. Part of our mandate as Christians includes a call to a countercultural understanding of our role as stewards, rather than owners, of our time and treasure. I’ll just speak for myself, but my hunch is others will resonate: My charity often robs the poor of the opportunity to give, rather than encouraging generosity.
We hold a collective agreement that giving is more blessed than receiving. Accordingly, we need to invest more energy and intentionality around promoting generosity among the people to whom we give. When the poor become more than recipients, actually becoming donors and volunteers themselves, the very soul of generosity is unleashed.
Pay it forward-ism should be our rally cry. These two stories from Romania and Uganda compel me to give in this way.
Inspired by the generosity of donors to their country, a group of Romanians determined to replicate this generosity themselves. This month, 50 microfinance clients of HOPE’s partner program in Romania participated in funding and packaging over 12,000 Christmas shoeboxes for orphans in their community.
In Uganda, one man—Bishop Hannington—has catalyzed an entire community around this concept. Even though the town was recovering from a war, and poor in every way imaginable, he preached a surprising and seemingly impossible message of generosity. Even the very poorest in this community responded to his call to live generously. One woman, both elderly and crippled, put an exclamation point on Bishop Hannington’s message (4:57 in the video):
“I heard what was taking place. And even though I am crippled, I, too, wanted to give.”

Bishop Hannington from International Steward on Vimeo.

What God did there through His church is nothing short of a miracle. The story will be an encouragement to you as we enter fully into the season of giving.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Take Care in What you Share

A generous person will prosper; whoever refreshes others will be refreshed. (Proverbs 11:25, NIV)

How often do the words of someone refresh you? Do you refresh others with what you communicate? My hope is that you experience this give and take of benefitting others with generosity both with material wealth and with thoughts that come from what God is teaching you. And that is an important point to consider, what are we sharing and communicating to others? Is it truly wealth or is it something not worth sharing?

When sharing about the generous mind idea years ago, a friend asked about all of the “drivel” that could potentially be thrown out there in an effort to be generous with our thoughts. That thought has been rolling around in my head for a long time. It’s true; much of what we think about could be put into the drivel category. But, should that discourage us from sharing the nuggets of wisdom that we gain throughout our lives?

This morning I read two Proverbs that seems to speak to this issue. First, my eye caught Proverbs 12:23:

The prudent keep their knowledge to themselves, but a fool’s heart blurts out folly. (Proverbs 12:23, NIV)

At first I thought, “Oh, no! Maybe we aren’t supposed to share what is going on in our minds.” Then I read the comment by what we fondly call “Bible Guy” (the commentary), and “he” directed me to Proverbs 10:14.

The wise store up knowledge, but the mouth of a fool invites ruin. (Proverbs 10:14, NIV)

After reading them together and the commentary which says of the phrase, store up knowledge, “Rather than babbling folly…,” it seems that it’s the babbling about foolish things that is the problem. The message I got was that we should take care in what we share. It’s important to consider whether what we’re sharing is from God and is wisdom or is something foolish.

In a world where you can post almost instantly, this can be a challenge. It’s so easy to post without thinking. But these verses have challenged me to check myself before I share—to share with care.

How much care and thought do you put into what you share? As you strive to be a generous mind, ask God to put wisdom and truth into your heart and mind so that you can refresh others.

Commentary referred to is from The NIV Study Bible, 10th Anniversary Edition

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

When the Toothpicks are Gone

I reached into my purse pocket and found a toothpick. This is not the first time this has happened. Just after my grandma died seven years ago, I found a toothpick that she had stashed away in the pocket of a pair of pants. It made me tear up then. Now it makes me smile. It brought back memories of her—how she always had a tissue up her sleeve just in case, her graceful and peaceful manner, her hugs and that beautiful face.

We all have people we’ve loved and lost. They live on in our memories, triggered by little things they have left behind—a chair, a piece of jewelry, or a card. Grandma gave my sister the red highlights in her light brown hair. She gave my mom a certain inflection in her voice while I got her likable nature.

But what happens when the toothpicks are gone? When all the little things she’s left behind seem to fade in to the world around us? What will remain? Values, traditions, and lessons she taught. The times she invested in others. The small kindnesses she did throughout her life.

That is part of what Generous Mind is about—enabling people to step outside the everyday survival of life and communicate with others the important ideas God has given them. It’s helping people to make a contribution to the world that will live on in others.

What are you doing in your life that will live on? Who are you investing in today?

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Generous Thinking is Comprehensive

When we look for true examples of generous minds, we are looking for those who share regularly but also share in many different areas of their life. A Generous Mind might share regularly about a hobby such as building model airplanes. They might also share their knowledge at work as a mechanic or engineer. At the same time they may be mentoring a young father or mother in areas related to parenting.

This comprehensive nature of their generosity shows that it isn’t simply in their job that they should share but that they have developed a lifestyle of sharing. This holistic discipline of sharing makes it clear that generosity is a core value that is bound to come out in anything that the person does.

For so long we have separated our activities to such an extent that we have not expected our values to permeate the various areas of our lives. But as integration and authenticity become greater and greater values, people are beginning to expect that our lives will be permeated by our values.

So how do you break down these self-imposed barriers and create a value for generosity across all areas of your life?

1. Define the values that you want to permeate your life so that you can be intentional about them. We recommend that generosity be one of them!

2. Ask yourself how these values are being demonstrated in every area of your life?

3. Define how you will measure whether those values are represented in your life.

4. Look at your life and all that you do as a single unit and see if every area is representing these things you value.

Are you willing to live comprehensively in this area of generosity and other key values in your life?

Thursday, November 03, 2011

What is a Gift Without a Receiver?

Every idea is a gift, but without a connector, how will it get to its recipient?

Today we have a guest post on the Vessel Project's blog run by Keiki Hendrix about the importance of connectors when being generous with ideas. Thank you Keiki for this opportunity!