I have the gift of generosity. And I wanted to talk about it openly bc I think people can get tripped up in different ways around this topic.
This came to mind as I was reading in Matthew 6, which you will recall if you grew up churched or if you've spent time in the Gospels. Jesus makes the hyperbole of one's left hand not knowing what one's right hand is giving.
Being in support-based ministry means I have access to another aspect of this by seeing some give anonymously in order to follow this principle.
But really, this passage is about self-glorification and not about how giving makes you feel. When I say I have the gift of generosity, I'm saying it is a great desire of mine, and (or maybe even because) it is incredibly rewarding personally.
What I wish I had, almost constantly, is the gift of service. Even to me, it feels more useful, which is crazy, because our church plant would not exist without people giving to support 8 members who are also on staff (5 of them are full-time). A church like Taproot (and Fellowship, our Mommy church) could not flourish without generosity. But service feels tangible. Service feels more, well, servant-like. Jesus didn't run around Judea throwing denarii at people.
Still, generosity is listed in the Bible, so we all can agree it's legit. But the Matthew 6 passage has bothered me as a niggling doubt in my head since I started following Jesus at 20: should I enjoy giving quite so much? Is my attitude toward giving shaped mostly by growing up with (certainly by a global standard) a very comfortable life?
But generosity sows itself in many different ways, and I have come to some healthy realizations over time through giving a gift that many would interpret as an act of service, such as preparing meals for a retreat, or even doing a small part of such prep, like pricing out food to know where it get it more cheaply (or if a meal would be too expensive to make for, say, 300 college students).
I know they are gifts and not acts of service for me because (1) acts of service is a love language I do not speak at all (and my husband, a serverman, can attest), and (b) I do it and experience others' reactions to it differently than those who do these things out of a love of serving.
And it's just looked on well to do things like make meals, mainly because a lot of people would rather have their toenails pulled off. But to me, feeding someone is caring for their bodies and selves and lives. It is a delight to me to spend hours making a cake for my friends or family: it is a way to lavish love on them. Making food people enjoy, and seeing them communing together around a meal that I made (or orchestrated), I teem with joy in and gratitude to the Lord.
Make no mistake, I love giving money. Love it. I loved it even before my husband went on staff, and I love it to this day. There are so many people I am DYIIIINNNNNG to support financially because I want to put my money where my heart is! I have learned the hard way that we can't support everyone I want to because we must support our family as well. This is not me tooting my own horn. This is me saying, giving someone money makes me feel alive in Christ; it makes me feel like I am advancing the Kingdom both in my own heart and on Earth. Just like with making food, it makes me rejoice in the Lord.
Please don't think we are big donors. Right now the vast majority of our income has to go toward caring for our family. And please don't think that I think this makes me better than those with other gifts. I really don't. I regularly wish I had the gift of service, because if I'm not careful, I'll make food for my kids or plan a fun time as a gift, and when they complain, it hurts my feelings. Honestly, having a gift of generosity is more annoying than helpful to me personally. But I want to be respectful of it, because it is a facet of God's personality to love being generous, and to delight in giving good gifts.