Linda and I were 19 years old when we decided that we would give 10% of our monthly income away. We’ve never looked back since. Sure there have been times when we had to adjust our giving because of emergencies, but never would a month go by without us trying to get back to giving 10% away. I’m not bragging by any means. I’m just sharing our journey towards becoming more generous.
Becoming more generous reminds you that you’re a steward of what God has given you. You’re not the owner.
One of the greatest ways to overcome greed is to regularly give to a vision or cause that you deeply believe in and are involved in. (Church, non-profit, social justice cause, business start-up, etc.) Without making the arguments for this, we know that the love of accumulating large sums of money just to say you have it can breed something very unhealthy in your soul. Learn to give generously in order to loosen the grip greed can so often have on you.
Becoming generous is not a feeling. It’s a decision. And you need to plan for it.
FOUR LEVELS OF GIVING
Here are four levels of giving that I’ve worked through myself to give you an idea of what it could look like for you to grow in effective and generous giving – especially towards a vision or cause that you believe in:
Level 1: If you currently give 0% of your finances away…
Find a vision that you believe in (church, non-profit, cause, individual startup). Consider who you are currently benefiting from or who you believe in and find a monthly amount that you can give without disrupting your budget. At least try to start with 1% to 2% of your income. Make this a priority in your budget. Don’t just give leftovers. So each month factor it into the beginning of your budget just like paying bills or growing your savings.
Level 2: If you currently give 1%-5% of your finances away…
Lets say you have already established a pattern of monthly giving to your favourite organization, but you realize that it’s become easy and convenient and that you can do more, but don’t know how much more. Increase your giving by 1% each month until you reach a level where you feel like you’re being stretched again. Remember, don’t give left overs. When you reach this new amount, factor it into the beginning of your monthly budget.
Level 3: If you currently give 6%-10% of your finances away…
If you’re already generously giving, consider giving large one time gifts. Give away something that would equal a nice vacation with family. Instead of taking two trips this year, you’re taking one nice trip and then investing the other into your favourite vision. Giving large one time amounts will cause your cushy savings to dip, but it will loosen any false security that a growing pile of money gives you security. Don’t let one time giving substitute for your already established monthly giving.
Level 4: If you currently give at least 10% of your finances and more away…
If you’re already generously giving and don’t mind losing a nice vacation to help your favourite organization pull off its vision, then pledge an amount in your mind to give that would require sacrifice. This might even be an amount that you don’t have and that you’ll have to save towards or even raise. This is an advanced level of giving, but this is when you know money doesn’t control you. At this level you realize that it’s never been about money.
Money is one of the tools to help create a better future for the vision you believe in.
We all have the potential to be Level 4 givers no matter your income bracket. But each step of the way requires faith, discipline, and sacrifice. The funny thing is in the end you become a more generous person while at the same time you make a real difference helping your favourite cause create a better future.
What level of giving would you like to be at?