It’s takes about 24 hours of straight driving to get to Northern Idaho from Southern California. Instead of killing ourselves by driving straight my Mom and I decided to enjoy the journey.
Our first night was in Las Vegas. What exactly do you do in Las Vegas when you’re with your mother? You see the Broadway show Menopause, of course. So there I was in the audience of predominantly older women laughing at menopausal jokes only they could get. I was the sole young male in the group. Man I must really love my mother.
We also passed through the clean Salt Lake City and wondered at the Mormon Temple. We stood in awe of the Hoodoos of Bryce Canyon.
Finally, I pulled up to the driveway.
My mentor had actually invited me to live at his house with his family. With a seven member family and five bedrooms I couldn’t see how this would be possible. We’ll figure it out, he would tell me. Just come.
I got out of my full SUV and stepped out into sunny Idaho. My mentor was at work but his wife and her four kids were waiting for me. After warm greetings and sitting in the living room for a few minutes I rubbed my hands together. So, which one of you kids’ rooms do I get? I had a good relationship with the kids so I could be tongue in cheek with them.
My Mentor’s wife got up and beckoned me to follow her. At first she started heading to the barn. This got me a little nervous.
But then she made a left into the garage and I saw they had built me my very own furnished room. It was insulated, carpeted, spacious with a desk and a bed. Working morning and evening for several weeks, the family and members from the local church had come together and built me a room. Tears came to my eyes as my heart was broken at the sacrifice this family had made for me.
I learned an important lesson that day and it’s this: You can’t out give God.
Here, I had come as an act of sacrifice – first to God and then to help this family with their ministry. Turns out sacrifice produces more sacrifice. I had poured out myself to them for the sake of ministry. Now they done the same and poured themselves out on my behalf.
This story taught me three ways to turn an act of generosity into a moving experience for the recipient.
- The act of generosity should demonstrate overwhelming abundance. You could donate $1,000 to an entire school and it could be a blessing. But when you take that $1,000 and pour into one child, it’s more powerful.
- The act of generosity should be customized. This family knew my specific need and they provided the resources and materials specific to my situation. As a result I was moved to tears.
- The act of generosity should be a surprise. The family could have told me what they were doing weeks beforehand. And I would have been genuinely moved. But to wait till I showed up and then show me everything at once was powerful. Yes, it was risky. There was a chance I wouldn’t have liked it. But the risk was worth it in this case.
Have you participated in an act of generosity that was powerful for you? Leave me a comment.