Growing up Protestant in West Africa, I learned giving was expected and saw its importance to a community’s survival. Families gave in times of sickness, when a loved one passed on, a child needed money to pay for tuition or another mouth to feed. People gave, so they expected in turn and it worked until it didn’t.
I’ve since learned that generosity without planning or structure can leave room for resentment and bitterness. Like everything else, God wants us to apply wisdom when making decisions.
The wisdom of the prudent is to discern his way, but the folly of fools is deceiving. - Proverbs 14:8
2018 was the first year I set generosity goals myself. It has helped me set better financial boundaries and ended my struggle with guilt. I’ve also learned a few other things about generosity.
Here are a few principles on giving to help you get started:
Put giving on your budget:
Whether it’s a budget app, a spreadsheet, or good old pen and paper, a budget is a great way to start when setting generosity goals. If you already budget, then it’s one more column and if you don’t this is a great time to start. A budget helps make it clear how much you can spare when unexpected requests come and trust me, they will. Cashapp requests, birthdays, crowdfunding campaigns, family events, and friends who need business support. The last thing you need is for your giving to wreck your financial stability.
Question your motives:
I try to be careful not to give for the wrong reasons because God places such a high value on sincere giving. Ananias and Sapphira’s paid for their lies with their lives and while this post is focused on giving in general, I still try to apply the same lesson in my everyday life.
A few wrong reasons for giving would be:
Giving to guilt the recipient in the future (a weird take on I’ll show you mine if you show me yours, lol),
Giving for clout or to show off wealth,
Giving extravagantly because someone else is doing the same and not because you can afford it
Giving when you really don’t want to
Be down for the cause:
I’m intentional about giving to causes that serve my community as I believe this is one way to build/rebuild communities that get overlooked. Have you noticed yourself leaning towards a particular need recently – hunger in the community? Homelessness? Do you feel drawn to single-parent families in need, families under financial strain due to hospital bills? A little goes a long way.
Explore other means: Here a few other ways you can give:
Making regular phone calls to check on others
Helping someone out with grocery shopping
Cooking or cleaning
Set clear boundaries:
Life has taught me two major lessons about resentment – 1. It’s real & 2. The person carrying it is hurt the most by it. Be clear about what you can or cannot do when it comes to giving. Don’t give in to pressure without considering it or checking your budget first. Also, be careful not to enable those who would rather wait on a 'money-fix' than getting a job. Sometimes what they really need is encouragement.
If it can steal your peace, it’s not worth it. Even for family.
Biodun Dapherede is a speaker and author who's passionate about faith, representation & confidence building. She blogs at The ImmiGreat Life, an online platform advocating for Representation and community among Immigrants of African descent. Discover more at https://www.biodundapherede.com/