by Ron Bare
Regret stings. It leaves a bitter taste in your mouth. You say something to your spouse that you really didn’t mean, you make a choice you wish you hadn’t, or maybe you let fear stand in the way of what could’ve been a life-changing opportunity. I believe each of us want to avoid it as much as possible.
I certainly don’t want to get to the end of my life and wish I had done more with what God has graciously put in my hands. Yet we know that our default as humans is to think of ourselves before others, spend on ourselves before being generous, and place security for ourselves as the highest priority.
As humans, we often choose to be selfish rather than being generous with what God has given us. We know this is true of each of us yet none of us are proud of it. As we consider how to be more generous and live a life of impact, we have found three key principles to live by.
Start with capturing your story. This allows your wisdom and knowledge to be passed on to the next generation, so they don’t have to learn things the hard way like you did (at least in some areas!) Financial principles, giving guidelines, spiritual principles, and ideas about work have been ingrained in each of us. We’d love to help you put words to some of these things, capturing them so that they can empower the next generation.
Next, define “what is enough” and “learn the secret of being content.” Defining what is enough is difficult but important as you plan for your family’s future. Once ‘enough’ is defined, you must “learn” to be content with it. Learning, as you know, is a process! Learning to become content allows you to be freed from the love of money. You will be reminded of who truly owns your money and resources. Paul talks about this in Philippians 4:12 when he says, “I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want” (NIV). Contentment allows each of us to give cheerfully to others rather than continuing to store up for ourselves. Our natural tendencies would be to raise our standard of living as we accumulate more – the principle of learning contentment helps us as we establish a personal financial finish line.
Finally, maximize your impact. We like to think about three things in this area – giving generously, increasing your resources for God, and impacting generations to come. 2 Corinthians talks about deciding what you are going to give and then giving cheerfully. God has gifted you with money and resources so that you can bless others. Matthew 25 talks about working and investing your resources, not so that you can build yourself a bigger life, but so that you have more available capital to invest and use for impact. Finally, think about impacting your grandchildren and great grandchildren (or those in the next generation that are special to you!) What can you do now that can impact their view of stewardship and generosity?
No one wants to live a life they regret. At Bare, we believe that capturing your story, defining and being content with enough, and thinking practically about maximizing your impact will help you live a life that impacts generations to come. In our Year of Story, we’re focused on these things in a new way. We’ve been refreshed by the power of each of our stories and would love to help you capture yours.
Part two of this blog will come out in September. We’ll be talking about what it looks like to define ‘enough,’ and the freedom that defining enough brings!