Many members of family businesses with whom I have consulted stress that generosity is one of their core values. Its tangible form can be financial, such as donations to churches, colleges, or charitable organizations, and even contributing to individual employees and their families.
But we are mistaken if we think that generosity necessarily includes a financial component. My friend, John Stanley, points out several other "currencies" that can meet our genosity goals. For example, we can demonstrate through our relationships -- by connecting people we know -- and applying our specific strengths to our cherished causes, instead of just thinking gnerally about volunteering our time.
But why? Why is generosity, in whatever form, a common family business value?
For many people I know, generosity stems from a sense of having been "blessed," of having received much more in life that one possibly can repay. They often mean that God, in some way, has provided for them economically, relationally, or spiritually, and they feel some obligation, some calling, to share or pass that blessing on to others.
In a recent church service, one of the speakers noted how a blessing often happens to you through someone else. In other words, individuals are "instruments of blessings" and by their actions, they convey God's blessing to others.
Of course, many people have felt what Bill's son experienced - that the effects of generosity are self-reinforcing! But the origin of blessing others often stems from a recognition that you have been the recipient of a blessing, many times, and in many ways, through other. Generosity, in its most basic form, is an extension of that blessing, another ripple in the water caused by an earlier act.
As we head into the harvest season, may you remember the ways you've been blessed, and may your cheerful acts of generosity be a blessing on others.