God made us to change the world. He made us for influence. How? One way we express our influence is through money. The Bible talks a lot about it. Why don’t we?
Money has tremendous power and influence, yet even with close friends we’re afraid to share openly.
But what if we did? What would this look like? One of the most profound ways to empower people is to help them think through and steward their influence around money. The apostle Paul tells us in Ephesians 2:10: “For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”
So the first way that we empower people is to be sure they understand who they are in Christ. By his grace, he gave us a new heart. And the astounding news is this new heart is generous. This new, generous heart is bountiful, unselfish, kindhearted, benevolent, humanitarian, public-spirited, altruistic, charitable, full of brotherly love, openhanded and compassionate. This is our heart. This is who we are in Christ.
So if God gave us generous hearts, how do we live into this generosity? And how do we empower others to steward their influence around money? This is the tricky part, isn’t it?
It starts with gratitude.
According to The 5 Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace (Northfield Publishing 2012), by Dr. Gary Chapman and Dr. Paul White, research from the workplace says that 65 percent of North Americans report they haven’t received any recognition or appreciation at work in the past year, and 79 percent of employees who quit their jobs cite the lack of appreciation as a key reason for leaving.
“Think of the power of gratitude in your own experience.”
These findings are significant. The majority of people are neither giving nor receiving affirmation or gratitude. And if we are honest, many of us experience this in our own Christian workplace environments.
But what if this was different? What if the Christian community led the way and started a movement of gratitude? This is how we empower people and help them steward the influence God has given them—through gratitude.
Think of the power of gratitude in your own experience. How do you feel when you are thanked for your work in the marketplace? Don’t you have an extra bounce in your step when a co-worker, boss, spouse or leader recognizes your gifts and shows gratitude?
My wife and I financially support and volunteer for various organizations. When we receive a thank you call or handwritten note of gratitude they make us smile. I love this Maya Angelou quote: “I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” People remember gratitude, and it makes them feel great.
There is tremendous power in gratitude. When we experience gratitude we open our hands, our grip on “stuff” loosens and we remember the generous heart God has given us.
No matter if you are a fundraiser, a banker, homemaker, business owner, parent, program officer, pastor, or teacher, you have influence. Tell people what they made happen, tell them the impact of their giving, their volunteering, their work. Gratitude is contagious. You can be generous to others, because it is the heart God gave you.
It is easy to forget who we are. It is a daily challenge to trust this new heart and grow in our influence. And that is why God built us for community.
We need each other.
We need each other because this isn’t easy. We want to be comfortable. We want comfortable conversations. We wonder if it is “our business” to meddle in one another’s lives, especially around money.
The writer of Hebrews gets this. In Hebrews 10:24 we read: “And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds.” God gave us each other to create environments of grace and relationships of trust where the Holy Spirit can work and we can learn to trust who God made us to be.
What does it mean to “spur one another on?” It has to do with reminding each other of the amazing influence God has given us to transform the world he so desperately loves.
This means we can talk and ask questions. We can talk about generosity and our fears. We can ask questions like, what does it mean to be generous? Or what do you give to and why? We can ask them at church. Ask them over dinner with your family. Ask your neighbors and coworkers. This is risky and well worth it.
Money is funny. There is probably no more complicated relationship we have than with money. And God gave us each other to grow and learn what this generous heart that he gave us will look like in action.
God has given us a new heart. We need each other to trust this and to grow in gratitude and generosity.
Steen Hudson, M.Div., CFRE, is President of The Hudson Company. He also serves as Special Counsel to Michael Oh, Global Executive Director/CEO of the Lausanne Movement and on the board of Trueface. His greatest joy is to serve nonprofits and the people they serve. Keep an eye out for his book A Generous Heart coming in 2018. You can find me at www.the-hudsoncompany.com