Generosity. When you hear that word, what emotion is stirred in you? Joy? Skepticism? Weariness? Curiosity? Fear? Warm fuzzies? Anxiety?
I have met extraordinarily wealthy people who are depressed, and I have met impoverished people who are exceedingly grateful. I have met busy people who are generous with their time, and unencumbered people who are stingy with their time. Research is clear there is no correlation between wealth and happiness. I think of Gilberto who thanked me profusely for accepting his invitation to a spaghetti dinner in his humble apartment in Caracas, Venezuela. He was overwhelmingly grateful to give to me (ironic?). He probably earned $2/hr and worked 50 hrs/wk. He is an image of 2 Corinthians 9:7: God loves a cheerful giver.
But why does God love a cheerful giver? Because a cheerful giver bears His image. Why? Because He is the cheerfulest giver. God is the most joyful being in the universe, and He has given infinitely more than anyone else. As we see in John 17, Jesus’ entire being is centered on giving glory to the Father—even at the cost of dying for our sins. He does not just give generously, He is generous. (“He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?” Romans 8:32)
At CBA, in order for children to truly fulfill our mission of inspiring world changers, they will need to learn at home and at school, day in and day out, what it means to be generous with their time, talents, and treasures. Our goal is to constantly model generosity while also showing them our generous God. And this is a challenging goal since our cultural American dream current focuses on selfishness. Generosity is the antidote.
For the months of December and January we are highlighting the Godly characteristic “generosity.” We discuss this beautiful trait in class and in chapels and look for opportunities to celebrate it. We also want to offer children an opportunity to participate. Starting next week, we will set up a “Generosity Station” by the Fellowship Hall. There is absolutely no pressure to participate. At this table families can grab a piggy bank (designed as a rice bowl) and they can encourage their child to find loose coins and put them in the bank. Then, in April we will invite children to return their piggy banks. We will then send the collected money to support the families/communities of our CBA teachers who have been impacted by the series of earthquakes in Puerto Rico (on top of the hurricane last year). I have also personally purchased 50 copies of “The Treasure Principle” for families to grab, read, and share with others. It is Radical… just like Jesus. Here is a one page summary of the book. My favorite takeaways are:
God owns everything; I’m His money manager.
Giving is the only antidote to materialism.
My heart always goes where I put God’s money.
God prospers me not to raise my standard of living, but to raise my standard of giving.
A word on fundraising for CBA initiatives
As our parents know, CBA is often fundraising (Auction, Giving Tuesday, Color Run). Fundraising is a reality for any school that does not receive federal, state, and local funds. For example, Charleston County School District spends $20,225 per pupil (source). We endeavor to keep elementary tuition close to ⅓ that amount while providing the highest level of education. In order to achieve this goal, it takes generous and joyful giving from: 1) teachers and admin (who are paid significantly less than CCSD employees), 2) the church, who provides the facilities at a fraction of the going real estate rate, 3) parents paying tuition, and 4) generous donations. Our only expectation is for parents to pay tuition and we do not wish to provide further pressure to give more.
At the same time, we are also stewarding every child’s education by often providing opportunities to give whether through time, talents or treasures (from planning the spring Color Run to parents pooling funds together to encourage their teacher). And the beautiful result is a school that is operating at a fraction of the public cost, while making available to all socioeconomic statuses an extremely high quality 21st century education. CBA has given almost $400,000 in financial aid in our first 5 years of existence. And it is not a burden. It is a ridiculous, contagious joy to live generously, especially when you get to do it with your friends and community.