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

Monday, August 27, 2012

Preparing for the Day

These days our days happen to us. We look back and wonder where the time went. The meetings blend and our email piles up. Usually we have little sense of intentionality in our day.

That is a problem for a Generous Mind. Being generous with ideas requires significant planning and intentionality. You have to prep for meetings, debrief them afterwards and think through what to share as you resource people via email.

So many people I meet want to be significant but do not plan for significance. Is that something you struggle with? The quality of your interactions and the significance they have in the lives of others will be directly correlated to the time you spend on them.

So as you go through your day and think about tomorrow, ask yourself this question: "What can I do today to prepare as I seek to make tomorrow significant?"

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Generational Generosity

Joe Handley, president of Asian Access, shares this guest blog post about the generosity of the leaders who had gone before him. He has a wonderful challenge for each of us!

It is not often that successive leaders in one organization work well in collaboration and resourcing. So I find myself blessed to reap the investment from all three of my predecessors at Asian Access. They have laid a rich foundation for the ministry, which is not often seen in ministry and organizational leadership.

Each, in their own way, continues investing in the ministry and in me their successor. It is both inspiring to see and powerful to experience.
Our founder set our course in ideation that was way ahead of it's time and has even become more vogue in ministry the last 10-15 years. He stood on top of a hill overlooking Tokyo and asked a Japanese pastor his vision for the nation. After the pastor shared at length, he apologized and said, "Ken, you are the apostle God sent to Japan. What is your vision for our country?" Ken replied, "My vision is to empower your vision!" That spirit, now much more at the center of mission than it was 40 years ago, carries the ministry of Asian Access to this day. It continues to drive us. We are about developing leaders who multiply churches to unite the church, multiply leaders and congregations and extend the transforming power of the Gospel.

His immediate follower, Steve Hoke, helped shape and form the ministry into an effective organization. He took the entrepreneurial ethos and spirit to new heights by strengthening the systems and structure, so that Asian Access would have an enduring legacy. In addition, Steve continues investing in Asian Access in the same manner that Ken does: by sharing his wisdom and resources. Both men continue to share their vast contacts in ministry and fund development that are essential for a ministry to survive.

Fast forward to my immediate predecessor, Doug Birdsall. Doug had the keen insight and foresight to focus the ministry around that original call "to empower leaders". He discerned God's best for Asian Access in a season of great missional change. Through his able leadership, the mission focused and then was able to expand as that focus became a leading edge factor for ministry across Asia. Like the two before him, Doug shares his connections and resources well.

All three have mentored me over the past three-and-a-half years. They practice the principle of generational generosity Each, in their different ways, continues to build the ministry of Asian Access by encouraging, platforming, and blessing the next generation. They frequently call me to encourage or give sound advice and periodically are available for in-depth discipleship, mentoring or counsel. In addition, all share their wealth of wisdom and networks for the good of the ministry and for the strengthening of my generation.

I pray that I, in turn, will practice what they have done me by investing in the following generations. What a tremendous legacy Asian Access has in these remarkable leaders who continuously sow seeds into the mission long after they have stepped into new kingdom roles.

Who do you need to thank for investing in you? And how you can pay it forward to the next generation? Let me know your thoughts.

Monday, August 20, 2012

FREELY GIVE? Why one professional journalist opted to give away some of his good stuff

NOTE: We are thrilled to have one of our partners, Dean Merrill, sharing about his journey as a Generous Mind. Take some time to explore the content that he has generously made available and ask yourself, what God might be challenging you to give to others.

I sold my first piece of writing at age 21—which led the national youth magazine that bought it (Campus Life) to offer me a real job with a real paycheck. I’ve been earning my living in Christian publishing ever since.

Understandably, I guess I’ve assumed along the way that if you’re really good at your craft, you’ll get paid for it. When people or publications have asked me to write something for free, I’ve thought that was something only amateurs did. I’ve usually found a polite way to say I “couldn’t work it into my schedule just now,” or some other excuse.

But what about some of history’s greatest authors—Moses, David, Isaiah, or Paul? So far as I know, they collected no royalties. (Their current publishers are doing just fine, however.) What about John Wesley, who wrote as an old man, “I have laboured as much as many writers; and all my labour has gained me, in seventy years, a debt of five or six hundred pounds”?

This past winter, I stepped out of my professional persona and decided simply to give something away to the Body of Christ. After all, the economics of publishing are in upheaval these days, anyway; the Internet has wrought huge changes in all our formulas for remuneration. Maybe I could afford to skip that headache for the benefit of a nine-session course I’d taught at my church, which had been well received.

The result has turned out to be a free curriculum posted online, where anybody can download it. It’s called “GREAT CLOUD OF WITNESSES—What 19 Centuries Tell Us about the Holy Spirit’s Gifts in Action” (see It offers full-scale leader presentations plus 80 PowerPoint slides, links to several custom-edited YouTube clips, and a dozen handout sheets for attenders.

What would be a reasonable retail price for this package? I haven’t bothered to calculate. Other projects are paying my bills these days, and meanwhile, I’m willing to let God do with this course whatever he sees fit.

Back when I was a teenager, I sensed a call to ministry one day through what Jesus told his disciples: “Freely you have received; freely give” (Matt. 10:8). I had freely received the blessings of growing up in a Christian home with devout parents who had provided a Christian high school education, music lessons, and tons of encouragement. Now it was time to start giving back. I turned down a paying job that summer to travel and sing with a music group for next-to-nothing.

Now these decades later, I’ve taken another step in the generous life by putting this course online for no charge. Will it be a big success? Down the road, will it pay me back somehow? I have no idea. The value instead is in the sharing, the insights passed along to those who will engage with the material. For me, that’s reward enough.

Dean Merrill is the author or co-author of more than 40 books, including national best-sellers. He has served in leadership posts at Campus Life, David C. Cook, Focus on the Family, and International Bible Society (now Biblica). For the past eight years, he has worked independently from his home in Colorado Springs, where he lives with his wife, Grace. (For a full roster of his books, see He was assisted in developing the “Great Cloud of Witnesses” course templates by Generous Mind.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Gut Check - Global Leadership Summit 2012

We are pleased to have David Soper,, guest blogging today about last week's Willow Creek Association Global Leadership Summit. We hope you enjoy his personal reflections on this important event.

Bill Hybels began the closing session of the 2012 Global Leadership Summit by saying that leaders need an "annual recalibration, a vision infusion, a gut check".  (I love that Bill says things like "gut check")  For me, the gut check at this GLS was a moment of profound gratitude. Bill went on to share his story of growing up in a lifeless, loveless, powerless church, but as a college student being seized by the vision of what the church was intended to be.  I'm so glad he was seized by that vision.  With tears in my eyes, I was reminded of what God had done in my life a little over 20 years ago at Willow Creek.  

Early in 1991, I moved from East Lansing, Michigan to Schaumburg, Illinois looking for a fresh start.  At 31, I was a fairly successful young engineer, but had struggled for years with drug use, and even though I was a professing Christian, my heart was far from God.  I started attending Willow Creek hoping to find my way back to God.  What happened over the next year was nothing short of a miracle.

I came back to God, I met fired-up Christians, I fell in love with Jesus again, and I soaked up great Bible teaching.  As I worked through serious sin issues and bondage, God was faithful and used my new friends at Willow to pray for me and challenge me.  And if that wasn't enough, God introduced me to my future wife there.  Earlier that same year, Connie had come to Christ and was baptized at Willow.  By God's grace we fell in love and one year later we were married.  

This is the vision that Bill was seized by - broken people transformed by the love of Christ and a healing community.  My life has been permanently altered because of that vision. Willow was not perfect then, nor is it now.  But God is perfect, and through the hands of faithful, trustworthy, and devoted servants the church of Jesus Christ can be the life-giving, power-filled place it's supposed to be.

I thank God that Bill had the courage to chase that vision back then, and that he challenged leaders to do the same today.  As I prayed along with 1000's of others to pledge my love, my heart, my talents, my energy, I was moved to the core and reminded once again that Jesus Christ is building His church and the gates of hell will not prevail against it!

David Soper and his wife, Connie, live in McAllen with their three precocious canines, Sonny, Oscar and Happy.  He works as a Sales Executive for a major IT company and often travels around the globe for business.  They both have a passion for discipleship and ministry, and are active members of Palm Valley Church.  David is a graduate of Michigan Tech (engineering) and Trinity Evangelical Divinity School (theology) and serves on the boards of Palm Valley Church and the World Radio Network, which has 14 Christian radio stations along the US-Mexico border from Brownsville to Yuma, Arizona.

Wednesday, August 08, 2012

It’s All in the Name

NOTE: We are pleased to have Vikki Walton sharing her thoughts about how to be a Generous Mind by learning people's names and paying attention to details. After all, how can you share your ideas with someone if you can't even get their name right!

It’s happened to me. Maybe it’s happened to you as well. You contact someone through email or they message you, and they respond with your name spelled incorrectly. For those of us with various ways that our name can be spelled we simply accept this on most occasions. However, when your name is written there in full view or the person has been corresponding with you for some time and still spells your name incorrectly, then it begins to become frustrating.

The statement has been made that the sweetest word is the sound of a person’s own name. In these days of visual dialogue, the incorrect spelling of a name is often no different than calling Jane . . . Sue. So why should this matter? Because it reveals a lot about the individual. Are they detailed? Do they take the time to ensure that they are correct in their response? Do they care about others?

Certainly if someone doesn’t spell a name correctly, it doesn’t automatically make that person someone who lacks empathy or is disrespectful of others. However, in my profession as a nonprofit consultant I work with many individuals who interact with those who may become donors to their organization. If these groups expect—or want—others to be generous, they must return the favor by showing respect to that person by addressing them correctly.
So how can you show your generosity to others?
1.      When you meet someone and they state their name, ask them, “Is it spelled this way” or “How do you spell your name?” For most people, that not only shows your interest in them but that you respect them.

2.      If you goof and spell someone’s name incorrectly through digital correspondence, quickly respond back to them with an apology. Most people will simply think it is inconsequential and forget about it. However, those who have taken the time to come back and apologize for their error have risen a notch in my estimation of them.

3.      Use the person’s name when you speak or correspond with them. Not only will this help you to remember them, but it builds a greater connection. For example: “Hi. Jon. Nice to meet you. Do you spell your name with an h?” Then as you leave, to reinforce your remembrance of them, you can state their name again. If you want to begin to remember people’s names, the easiest way is simply speaking it.
A name is the most personal thing a person shares with the world, and you can be assured that “a lilac by any other name would not smell as sweet.“
Vikki (not Vicky or Vickie or Vickky or Vikkie or Vickkie) Walton
Vikki Walton is Founder and President of grants for higher, llc. As a nonprofit consultant, certified grants specialist and certified grants reviewer, she comes alongside nonprofits that are intent on taking their vision to the next level. She is also a requested speaker for nonprofit training seminars and women’s events. As a freelance writer, her byline has appeared in local papers such as the Gazette’s “Experience”, “Home”, as well as the Broadmoor’s in-house magazine.  She has also had pieces published in magazines and compilation books and is a book reviewer for The spelling of her name was taken from the singer, Vikki Carr.