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, January 30, 2012

The Gift of Forming Opinions

Maybe more people have this problem than I think…I don’t know. But I have trouble forming opinions. I like to keep the oh-so-valued open mind, seeing something from different angles, but sometimes this makes it difficult to make decisions. Ok, it makes it hard to make ANY decisions. I can’t decide whether I like a set of curtains, want to go to a certain restaurant or think a meeting went well or not.
Forming an opinion can be a gift and a talent. It takes the ability to take a complex situation (because face it, just about everything in this world is complicated), factor in the known and the unknown, and decide about what you think so you can take action.
I don’t do this on purpose, but I tend to surround myself with people who have strong opinions. (Notice I didn’t use the word “opinionated” which has negative connotations for me.) It helps me to figure out what I think when I hear several people explain to me their point of view.
Take yesterday for example. I had a hair dilemma. So what did I do? I went to the expert, my sister. I told her my dilemma and my goals and she gave me quick advice. Hardly a blink and she sent me a message back that got to the root of the issue (no pun there, really). With her opinions in my pocket, I took them to the salon and got (what I think) is a great haircut that will help me accomplish what I want to do with my hair.
What does this have to do with being a generous mind? Well, without the input she gave me, I could have remained in limbo-land indefinitely. Her input was an act of generosity which I am extremely grateful for.
Of course there is always the problem of getting unsolicited advice and overbearing opinions, but this does not undermine the good an opinion can do at the right time and place. Learning to give appropriately is another gift and talent.
Have you ever thought of your opinions as something to be shared generously?

Friday, January 27, 2012

Fear of Generosity?

I’m bad at choosing gifts—or at least it’s not easy for me to do. I wonder what the implications of a certain item are—if it sends a message other than that which was intended (usually, “You’re important to me”). Did I pay too much or too little? Does it reveal an assumption I’ve made of them by thinking they would want a certain something? And I think about all this before I even wonder if they will like it or not!
So, yes, I have a sort of fear of generosity in that I’m afraid of what the other person will think or say. I’m afraid of rejection. It’s like this with ideas too. What if something I share is criticized and devalued? What then? That’s a good question, what then? I’ll feel bad, but that is temporary and is up to me in a lot of ways. Should that stop me from sharing? No!
There are many roadblocks to sharing ourselves with others: busyness, laziness, fear. What holds you back from sharing your ideas?

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Mindy’s Birthday Post

I was 11 years old at an ordinary moment in life (in fact, I was simply standing in the bathroom) when it suddenly hit me; I exist! I am alive! I am. All this time I’ve been living and I never really noticed—REALLY noticed that I was. I just took it for granted, all this living. And now, I knew.
A sudden joy filled me at the thought—the joy of knowing that I was created. I’ve carried that moment around with me since then, thinking of it now and then, marveling at the wonder of that truth. God thought of me and made me. I didn’t have to exist. He chose for me to be here.
I wish I could keep that thought at the forefront of my mind…living each day in the wonder of that moment, but life wears me down and it gets shoved into the back of my mind.
But every birthday when I wake up, the joy of that moment fills me—if only for one day a year and I know that I exist, I am alive, I am. People wish me a happy birthday, but I can’t help but have a happy birthday. In fact, I wish that everyone else would have a happy birthday with me—to share this joy that I have of being alive.
This year I am going to try to carry a piece of that joy with me. When I get down and frustrated and depressed, I want to draw on the wonder of that realization and remember that I am.
(Psalm 139:13-14 NIV)
13 For you created my inmost being;
   you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
   your works are wonderful,
   I know that full well.

Monday, January 16, 2012

MLK, Jr. Day—The Forgotten Holiday?

Today’s post is from Bruce McCluggage, philosophy professor at Pikes Peak Community College. Thank you Bruce for your willingness to share what you’ve learned from a local friend and the experiences you shared with each other this past year.

MLK, Jr. Day—The Forgotten Holiday?
By Bruce McCluggage, Philosophy Faculty at Pikes Peak Community College

It’s happening again—another all-white church service in January without mention of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. It is amusing how I can build the excitement, the tension, in my head while I’m sitting here. “Will we, or won’t we?”

My memories flood back this past year to how God used a man named John to make some of us in our all-white Colorado Springs church a bit ‘uncomfortable.’ John is a major editor for a quite large and reputable Christian publishing company. Yet, he suffers not only from a physical malady but also one that strikes at the heart of many a family—the unbearable heartache of a wayward child. Years ago John started to attend an all-black church in town. He said he found comfort there and understanding in the midst of his ‘unbearable heartache.’ He invited us white folk to go with him and a few of us ventured forth.

Then John invited me to an annual retreat for men—black men from black churches in the Denver/Colorado Springs area. I too suffer the same malady as John—the ‘unbearable heartache’ of a prodigal son/daughter. So I went, I saw, and I was conquered by the unconditional love of black men adopting two white guys into their midst because we ALL know the condition that life just does not go the way that we think it should. It’s unfair, it’s unjust and we hurt as a result. We don’t choose these conditions, rather they choose us. But we can choose to be with those whose history bears the mark of suffering ‘unbearable heartaches’ and in that fellowship we often find the understanding and empathy that is more oft difficult to experience in an all-white congregation.

While riding home from that men’s retreat in the church’s van full of black men we cooked up a plan for us to invite our wives to go out together for a movie and dinner afterward. The movie?—The Help. We decided that we would discuss all the feelings and emotions that would probably be raised by the movie over the dinner. John and I had already viewed the movie before so we were surprised that none of our black brothers had seen it.

I cried a few tears when I saw the movie the first time. But something very strange happened to me while watching the movie a second time sitting next to a black couple from a black church that I had come to know. I couldn’t stop crying. I was a human water fountain. I think it had something to do with the power of empathy.

This morning I will join one of my colleagues, a fellow community college instructor, at an MLK, Jr. celebration at the college where she will take the stage to share some of the journey of being a poor black single mom who overcame obstacle after obstacle to eventually earn a Ph. D. and be courted by many a professional and organizational opportunity. She’s depending on me though. I told her of a video clip I happen to have of actual footage of MLK, Jr. being arrested and thrown into a Birmingham City Jail and other footage summarizing the path that eventually led him to making his memorable “I Have a Dream” speech in Washington, DC. So, Regina wanted to show some of that footage at the school-wide meeting this morning.

Well, January isn’t finished yet. I need to have hope for the white churches in town and all across America. I think I’ll call the pastor and offer to stand up in church and share a bit of my story, a bit of my history of what MLK, Jr. day means to me. I wonder what the pastor will say. I wonder what other white pastors say. I wonder how many more Januarys will go by with this happening again.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Can a Database be Generous?

In these troubled times we are caught between the promise of technological breakthroughs and the great fear of how that same technology might do us harm as it controls more and more of our daily life. Information is a power that has come of age and it is something that each of us must contend with.

But information is still an inanimate thing. It does not love, smile or do a victory dance. It is 1's and 0's given meaning by each of us as we live our lives. We give data meaning and we use that data to make a difference in people's lives.

Just today I found a wonderful example of how a group of people brought data together through a database and gave it meaning and significance. The team at YouVersion (one of the most popular Bible apps in the world) just released a list of the verses most often bookmarked in 2011. Take a look at the list here.

This list was generated from a database that tracked all of the times a verse in the Bible was bookmarked by the countless users of YouVersion's software. In the database it was just a bunch of information.

But people on the YouVersion team decided to pull that information out and share it with the world. Now we can look at the collective impact of Scripture on many lives through the verses they decided to bookmark.

It is a simple act of generosity enabled by a database but brought to life by a person who God inspired to share that information.

What data do you have at your disposal? How could it be used to make a difference in people's lives? Are you actively asking that question today?

Wednesday, January 04, 2012

Looking Back and Pressing Forward

We love New Years . . . why you ask? Well, it is such a rich time of sharing. We love to see all the top 10 lists, Best-of lists, Predictions lists and on and on. Many of you spent time looking back over 2011 and synthesizing what took place. Others focused on looking into 2012 and describing what you think will happen in this new year.

Either way, each of you who participated in this annual ritual were being Generous Minds. You were sharing your ideas and enriching the lives of others. At these key milestones in life, we have amazing opportunities to share ideas with others.

That is because other people have a felt need for what you have to share. As the year winds down, they are looking for insights and input into what was significant and what they can learn from the year's events. They are also looking to get insight into what will be coming up in the new year.

As a Generous Mind, you have the chance to step into that need felt by so many and share what God has put on your heart. Will you do take that opportunity?

Share with us your favorite year-end content so we can benefit from your generosity.