Generosity - A Family Story

By Bill Long on September 19, 2019

One of the greatest desires of parents is that our children adopt the values that are dearest to us.  As a result, one of our biggest fears is that they will be tone deaf to these same values.  The following story took me by surprise in such a pleasant way that I wanted to share it with you.

I have always stressed the importance of generosity or philanthropy to my children.  I encouraged them to check out various ways that they might contribute either to ministries or to efforts to serve people in need.  My son seemed, figuratively, to roll his eyes whenever he heard me mention this topic.  For, you see, he is an accountant, and he has been convinced for a long time that if you have $100 and you give away $10 of it then you only hvae $90 left.  "How can you moving towards your financial goals if you give your money away?"  he wanted to know.  I tried to tell him that the universe isn't a "closed system" and that there are other sources of money or blessing in life, but he just smiled and walked away.

Until....I had a recent conversation with him.  In the past few years he has bought a small home in Eugene, OR, with a top floor he could rent out to a University of Oregon graduate student.  He became a landlord, happily taking in $750 per month.  It is customary in Eugene to lower the rents in July and August to about $500 a month because the city empties of most of its students.

He told me that, with no encouragement from me, he decided to cancel the rental payment of the graduate student for those two months.  She, the student, was doing an internship in the East and wasn't going to occupy the place.  Money was tight for her, and my son decided that rather than having her stress about $1000, he would just bear the loss himself.

Momentarily stunned, I asked him what her reaction to his decision was.  My son looked at me with an unaccustomed faraway look.  "She was really, really surprised, and she was unbelievably grateful.  I was so affected by her gratitude that it made me thnk that giving her this gift was more of a gift to me than it was to her."

My son now believes in generosity.  He told me recently that he hasn't missed the $1000 at all; in fact he thinks he has more in his account than he thinks he should....