I Don’t Feel Generous

I don’t want to be generous.

Truthfully. I think everyone would agree: we don’t ALWAYS want to be generous.

That’s fair.

Generosity doesn’t always come natural.

I’ve written before about our approach to money. We’ve lived up to this point without ever taking out a loan, a mortgage, a credit card, or any kind of debt. This is something I wanted to do, honestly because of Proverbs 22:7.

“Borrowers are slaves to lenders”.

Maybe it’s pride, maybe it’s ego, maybe it’s centered in good intentions, but I hate that word. Slaves.

I’ve been a “slave” to some different things in my life and coming out of high school that’s something I didn’t want to describe me.

So, as Sarah and I worked toward being debt-free, another thought germated and began to motivate us. If we weren’t a slave to debt, what could God do with our money? Imagine how generous we could be.

But eating ramen, saving up for a house, we poised the question, how do we make sure this “feeling” of wanting to be generous, stay with us? It was easy to be generous with ramen but what about when we had more? Or when we felt like there was more at risk.

Would the feeling fade?

So we made some rules. We were going to FORCE ourselves to be generous. There were a lot of things that we put in place to insure we would continue to be generous, even if we didn’t feel like it. From tithes and offerings to our church to other guidelines we put in place. One of those things was how much we tip.

We said we would always, regardless of service, regardless of check size, regardless of any extenuating circumstance, tip the same, generous percentage.

Then one day we had terrible service.

Really. Terrible.

Sat for 40 minutes, drink orders late, wrong, food orders weren’t written down and came out wrong and cold.

It was terrible. I used to work in a restaurant too so I’m pretty understanding. But the waiter simply didn’t care.

The check came and my wife and I looked at each other.

“What should we do?”

I mean that was the question. We’d gotten thanked by waiters and waitresses, saying how we’d made their night before. The check wasn’t a lot, but the tip? I mean the guy hadn’t earned it.

In this moment I’d like to say we easily put the same percentage. But we struggled. Finally I came to the conclusion, that I’d leave the tip we’d normally leave. But I’d write a note. I’d explain on the receipt, what we normally did, why we did it, and how we were so disappointed in our service.

I scribbled the tip amount down and added up the total. Then began the scathing, TripAdvisor review, on the 3″ by 6″ receipt. Never had a restaurant receipt had so grand a calling. This simple paper with it’s masterfully written critique would motivate a man to pull himself up by his bootstraps, shed his laziness, and serve like he’d he never served before.

It was funny though, because, as a writer, it didn’t come out at all like I planned.

The phrase that got me was “Sorry, it just seemed like you were having an off night. Hope this helps.”

Something happened in the heart when we were generous with our hands. We’d been generous with our spending, I figured up our normal amount, wrote it down and a generous tip transferred to generous in spirit.

See, we hadn’t even considered that he could’ve had a bad night. That the person who was serving us could’ve needed some service.

I love, Matthew 6:21 for it’s unique wisdom.

“For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”

My heart didn’t get to generosity, until my hands did. I didn’t feel generous–until I WAS generous.

Photo by Sharon McCutcheon on Unsplash

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