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Awaken Personal Generosity By Patrick Johnson

More than Ministry: Defining Your Personal Generosity Path

At GenerousChurch, I’ve observed that people who practice whole-life generosity listen to Jesus. As a nonprofit leader, you have the privilege of shepherding others. You are obedient, faithful, compassionate, and tireless. You bear burdens each day. But are you a listener? Are you letting Jesus carry your burden as you follow His voice?

Pause for a moment. Breathe. Reflect.

Recall what it is like to sit with Jesus—to have Him speak life and health to your soul. Have you been with Him lately, listening? What did He say to your heart?

Consider Jesus’ words,

Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”  – Matthew 11:28-30, The Message

There is life in keeping company with Jesus.

The Hsiehs’ Story

Tom and Bree Hsieh (pronounced “shay”) have learned the unforced rhythms of grace. In college, Bree listened and heard God’s heart for the poor in Isaiah 58. She wanted to know God more, so she leaned into poverty. After moving into the inner city in Pomona, California, she married Tom who shared Bree’s desire to follow Jesus by living among the materially poor.

The Hseih family began with a commitment to live at or below the median income for the nation. This decision affected them immediately, removing their dream of a European honeymoon. Amazingly, God affirmed His abundant provision when they won an all expenses paid Tuscan honeymoon from a wedding registry contest they didn’t know they had entered!

Tom was an Earthlink employee who received a large financial payout when the company went public. He talks about the change in company employees, most of whom spent thousands on new “toys” the very first day after their payout. Because Tom and Bree had already decided the level of their lifestyle, they saw their wealth differently. Instead of focusing on the opportunities that wealth afforded them, they remained focused on the opportunities that inner city poverty afforded them.

Within a short time, the Hseihs had two meaningful opportunities to open their home. First they brought Jenny, an under-nourished and under-performing high school senior, to live with them. The Hseih’s investment of $30,000 to remediate Jenny’s academic, physical, and emotional issues paid off when she graduated from high school in a healthy state.

Later Tom and Bree’s next-door neighbors, a family of five, fell into trouble and moved back in with family. The environment, which included regular heroin use in the room where they were living, took a heavy toll on the family’s young children. Seeing the situation, Tom and Bree invited the family to live with them.  Although it was challenging, Bree says, “It was amazing to be a family together,” and their young daughter, Kaden says, “It was hard, but if you let it happen your heart gets bigger and there’s room for more people, so it’s really worth it.”

It’s easy to marvel at Tom and Bree’s generosity. But when people ask about how to follow Jesus in a similar fashion, Bree humbly replies, “You really have to ask Jesus what He’s given you, what He’s asking you to give away, and what He’s asking you to hold on to. There’s no formula for what kind of life to live, there’s only a listening to Jesus and a conviction. All you have to do is ask ‘how?’ with what God has given you.”

The Hseihs know what it means to keep company with Jesus. As they do, they are learning to live freely and lightly.

Taking a Step

What does keeping company with Jesus look like in your life, listening to His guidance about your own unique path of generosity with your time, talents, treasure, and influence? Further, what would it look like for you to invite your staff or team into that authentic journey, knowing that whole-life generosity is contagious and compelling?

When we start small, we watch God go big.

Jesus said,

“If you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be uprooted and planted in the sea,’ and it will obey you.”  – Luke 17:6, NIV

Jesus loves to activate great movement from the smallest seed of faith.

Be encouraged. Fostering a culture of generosity is a journey, not a destination. It is fellowship with Jesus, not more strategy around knowledge, vision, or capital. It is a step at a time.

To encourage you in your journey, join the GenerousChurch movement and download the Generosity Reset ebook today!


Patrick Johnson is the founder of GenerousChurch and has a passion to see a revolution of whole-life generosity flourish in churches. Over the last 15 years, he’s partnered with Leadership Network, the Wesleyan Denomination, Converge and other church networks to equip leaders to unleash generous disciples.




What is Christian Leadership Alliance?

Christian Leadership Alliance equips and unites leaders to transform the world for Christ. We are the leaders of Christ-centered organizations who are dedicated to faithful stewardship for greater kingdom impact.

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