A lesson on sharing

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October 19, 2016 | Viewpoints | Volume 20 Issue 21
Dori Zerbe Cornelsen,

A father often took his five-year-old son to the local minor hockey league games. Each time they went, they saw the same homeless man in the parking lot asking for donations. The first time, the son asked his dad why the man was asking for money, providing an opportunity for the dad to explain homelessness. The second time, the son asked why everyone didn’t give the homeless man money, which gave the dad a chance to share a lesson on charities and generosity.

On their third trip to the rink, the young boy approached the homeless man. The father and son now knew the man by name and often engaged him in brief, casual conversation. Suddenly, the boy reached into his coat pocket, pulled out a small sandwich bag of coins, and with a big smile, offered the bag to the homeless man, who smiled back, offering an appreciative “thank you.” At this simple yet profound act of generosity, the dad could only smile as he fought back tears.

This young boy understood abundance. Even with a small bag of nickels and quarters, he felt he had enough to share and wanted to give something to their new friend. Abundance isn’t about wealth, excess or affluence. Abundance starts with gratitude, and nurtures relationship. When you’re grateful for what you have, whether a little or a lot, you want to share it with others.

There is actually much evidence out there to support the fact that living generously is good for us! The Paradox of Generosity: Giving We Receive, Grasping We Lose is the result of a five-year social-scientific study of financial giving done in the U.S. The authors conclude that “generous financial givers are happier people.” The research also suggests that, “while money cannot buy happiness, giving it away actually associates with greater happiness.” In the story above, the young boy, the father and the homeless man were all impacted favourably by this simple act of generosity.

The authors of Paradox of Generosity go on to write: “This win/win outcome of generosity also holds true for other kinds of well-being, such as health, avoidance of depression, purpose in life and personal growth.” In contrast, when we don’t live generously, and strive to protect ourselves against future uncertainties and misfortunes, “we are affected in ways that make us more anxious about uncertainties and vulnerable to future misfortunes.” If this is true, why wouldn’t we all want to give?

Better health and happiness are simply the side effects of generosity. At Abundance Canada, we work with some of the most generous people in Canada. For them, living generously is not about the size of their wallet; it’s about the depth of their heart. They don’t give because they can; they give because they want to. They are passionate about the charities they choose to support and they eagerly seek out ways to express their generosity.

Our organization was built on the understanding that God is generous and that God invites us to share. When we are generous, we reflect God’s character.

Abundance Canada offers a variety of services to help people live generously. We can help you discover ways to give generously that you haven’t yet imagined, both now and later in life. For example, our gift planning consultants can help you consider how you can include a generosity plan in your will. Abundance Canada consultants will listen to your story, identify your charitable goals, and develop a plan to help you experience faithful, joyful giving.

Dori Zerbe Cornelsen is a gift planning consultant at Abundance Canada serving generous people in Manitoba and Saskatchewan. For more information on impulsive generosity, stewardship education, and estate and charitable gift planning, contact your nearest Abundance Canada office or visit abundance.ca.

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