Young Patrick shows the power of radical generosity.
“That’s what I consider true generosity: You give your all, and yet you always feel as if it costs you nothing.” – Simone de Beauvoir
When we give of our time, our talent or our treasure we feel amazing and the outcome contributes to the greater good. And yet, many times when faced with the opportunity to live generously, we hesitate to do so.
A conversation with a new friend last week about the levity that results from practicing radical generosity reminded me of a story about my son, Patrick. I first recounted the story in my book IN AWE. I hope this memory serves as a reminder that when it comes to generosity, the best results happen when we give our all.
The collection plate was making its rounds.
Years ago, Beth and I decided to give to the church electronically. It ensures we can be intentional on the front end and consistently give throughout the year. Even so, at church we always want our kids to see us giving, so we usually drop a few dollars in the offering plate.
I had just returned from giving a speech that included book sales, so my wallet was a bit fatter than normal. As the collection plate reached our pew, I passed some money to the kids so they could each put something in. Patrick, seated next to me, saw the contents of my wallet, looked at me, and then asked in a quiet voice that nonetheless echoed throughout the church, “How much are you going to give, Dad?”
I whispered back, “How much do you think we should give?”
With his brown eyes sparkling, he responded into the built-in microphone every child speaks into when a room is supposed to be quiet, “Give it all!”
Now, my first reaction was, Patrick. Not happening. Are you crazy? We give electronically anyway. We give enough. Here, be a good little boy, and put these three dollars in.
But then I looked at my boy, saw his generous spirit, then stared at the plate in front of me. I exhaled deeply and emptied the contents of my wallet into the plate, feeling far lighter than I had entering church. And somehow far richer, too.
Give it all.
It is a concept that kids are familiar with. Whether it’s their bottomless energy and enthusiasm—or the money in dad’s wallet—they tend to leave it all on the table, free from our adult instinct to hold back, to hang on and to keep what’s ours.
My friend, don’t be afraid to give it all. Resist our culture’s penchant for a mindset of scarcity that tells us that more for someone else means less for us. In reality, all research (and our personal experiences) proves the opposite is often true.
Dollars in a collection basket, precious time spent serving others, shared words of encouragement, a friendly smile in a sea of frowns, the little things we do for others matter. Generosity liberates us to worry less about ourselves, elevates the lives of others and positively makes the world better.
So strive to give it all. Start by giving something.
This is your day. Live Inspired.
The conversation that sparked this memory was with my latest podcast guest, author Ami Campbell. Listen to hear more about Ami’s research on radical generosity for the real world and what happened when she and 300 other people were given $500 to do good as part of a large-scale generosity experiment. Spoiler alert: the results were wild and wonderful.