In a compilation of stories from over 100 interviews with people who had been identified by their pastors as generous givers, Herb Mather in That’s What My Mother Taught Me, shares that for many of us, responding with generosity is something that not only were we taught, but also that was modeled for us. That is certainly true in my experience.
I grew up believing that tithing was an expression of faithful living and that also giving of one’s time and talent to a wider community was equally important. While our family was not financially wealthy by many standards, I grew up with the privilege of never wanting for any of life’s necessities. I also grew up watching my parents display their generous spirits through giving back to their church, the wider church and their community. One of my mother’s lessons for use of our family resources was to “Give back to God first (a tithe), pay yourself next (save) and finally pay your bills.” If there wasn’t enough left to pay the bills in a pay period, then the bills needed to be reevaluated before the other two were short-changed.
It didn’t surprise me then when we worked through the documents our parents had left to settle their estate, we discovered that they had designated a tenth of their accumulated assets to UCC-related institutions. My mother left a final lesson in generosity.
It is a simple model that my wife, Julie and I followed when we created a Living Trust for disposing of our assets upon our deaths. We have made provision in the Robert O. and Julie M. Ullman Trust for ten percent of the proceeds from our estate to be dispersed to UCC-related institutions and organizations. We trust that by sharing in word and deed the lessons we have learned and lived, others will be inspired to become generous givers as well.
In an entry in his Sabbatical Journey diary Henri Nouwen wrote, “I think that generosity has many levels. We have to think generously, speak generously, and act generously. Thinking well of others and speaking well of others is the basis for generous giving. It means that we relate to others as part of our ‘gen’ or ‘kin’ and treat them as family. Generosity cannot come from guilt or pity. It has to come from hearts that are fearless and free and are willing to share abundantly all that has been given to us.” Lessons learned are passed on. Let us be as generous to others as God has been with us.
Yours in Faith,
Rev. Robert Ullman
Generous Thoughts is a collaborative effort of UCC stewardship, generosity, fundraising, and development professionals to provide our conferences and congregations with information to aid them in their fundraising efforts. The SNEUCC is represented ...