Generosity Creates a Beautiful Life

Pam Pugh, co-founder of Women Doing Well and a founding board member of VertuAssets Foundation, shares what has shaped her views on generosity and why you should test yourself and see how faithful God is to fill your cup full to overflowing as you dive in to generosity.

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Does being generous come easily to you? 

It’s an interesting question. Our human nature grabs and chases after things. Letting go isn’t our natural state.  We come out of the womb gasping and grasping! First, we are taught to share and consider others. But then hopefully, we begin to catch on to the joy and connection we experience when we give.  

I have found that the closer I grow to God by grace, the more I desire to be generous. The more I realize with gratitude, God’s breathtaking generosity to me, the more I desire to be generous to others. The more I understand the depth of His forgiveness and grace to me, the more I am able to give grace to others. You might even say we live on the charity of God.

When our hearts and minds see life and the world through the lens of abundance, blessing, and overflow rather than viewing life through the eyes of scarcity and fear, we live a life that is liberating. As the Notre Dame generosity study concluded, “it (generosity) sets one free to appreciate and enjoy what one has, rather than being burdened with the wish that one had more or worry about losing it. It makes every bite more tasty, every good more blessed, every sunset more beautiful, every embrace more warm and every day more a gift.” Perhaps it is counterintuitive, but generosity creates a beautiful life.

Do you remember the first time someone was generous to you? What effect did it have on you?

When I was a little girl, I remember asking my father (who was a pastor), why did those who gave things to the church, give their discards rather than giving God their best? I was curious why churches didn’t work together to meet needs. So, as a child I saw a disconnect. You know, I think all children sense these types of dissonances. 

My parents expressed generosity from their modest pastor salary. They provided a home for missionaries or others who were without a place to stay. They modeled generosity for us. When we received gifts from them, we knew it was coming from their heart of abundance to give their best. 

I think my most memorable gift was when my dad built an artist’s easel for me as he noticed my love of painting. It was such a beautiful gift, handmade and supported something I was interested in. 

Is the Bible’s definition of generosity different from how we typically perceive it?  

Generosity comes from the root word “gene” which means to give birth or to become. This provides a more robust visual of the word generosity. Generosity is bringing life to a community of abundance. It is so much more than writing a check!

The Bible has much to say about living a generous life. One of my favorites is Proverbs 11:25, “Generous persons will prosper; those who refresh others will themselves be refreshed.” (Prov 11:25 CEB) How great to know that in our generosity to others, there is an overflow of restoration and joy that we receive. In this abundant community, we meet the needs of others and rest assured knowing our needs will also be met. As St. Francis prayed, “it is in giving that we receive.”

Taking this scripture along with 2 Corinthians 1:3-4, we see that God invites us to give in the same places where we have received. This gives our life purpose and establishes our unique platform for giving. It adds a ‘so that’ onto the end of what we are living through. “

He comes alongside us when we go through hard times, and before you know it, he brings us alongside someone else who is going through hard times so that we can be there for that person just as God was there for us.

2 Cor 1:3-4 MSG

God helps us in our hard times, SO THAT we can give to others the same help we first received. I’ve found that it is in this giving that restoration begins to happen for the giver and the receiver. Perhaps that is why Scripture says, it is more blessed to give than to receive. We actually get to partner with the Creator of the Universe to provide His brand of generosity to others! Truly amazing!

What are your favorite ways to be generous?

In this day, we need generosity of our words. This starts with generosity of our thoughts, of our prayers. By staying connected with God throughout the day, we can recognize His open doors as His invitation to share a word of kindness or to pray for the person who is in front of us. Live life in holy awareness. We can partner with the miraculous expressions of God. We can walk through our day ready to be a generous blessing from God to others.

We can focus our time with “On Purpose Volunteering.” Sustainable volunteering happens when we are serving in the area of our passion. Consider your life, your past—where have you received God’s grace? This was so you would be able to give in that same way to others.

When we give financially, we can give wisely by giving appreciated assets to charity or a donor advised fund. Often this enables us to give 30-50% more due to the capital gain tax savings.  

The Advent season is a wonderful time to prepare our children to be generous. Did you know that when we teach our children to volunteer and give, they are far less likely to become involved in at-risk activities and are seven times more likely to be a giver as an adult? We can model it and engage them in our family giving with age-appropriate activities from giving a bottle of water to the mailman or packing a shoebox with Samaritans Purse.

As Churchill was quoted, “We make a living by what we get. We make a life by what we give.”  

Have you made any generosity goals or plans for 2022?

Each year over the Martin Luther King holiday, my family retreats for several days to reflect on the previous year. We each bring our journals and our calendar. Looking back over the previous year, we ask, “God what did you teach me and what did you lead us through?” We share our insights with one another over lunchtime.  It is an unbelievable conversation! It builds empathy and understanding among the family.

Then we set goals for the following year; individual goals and family goals which are based upon what we experienced last year. We set our giving goal and also a stretch giving goal, with the phrase, “as God so provides, we will give __% in the next year.” We set our volunteering goals which can include investigatory trips, mission conferences, and weekly volunteering. This way, as a family, we get on the same page. We have done this since the children were in elementary school and now as adults, our girls carry on the same planning with their spouses. It just makes sense to plan with God! Certainly, we would never run our businesses without a budget forecast and business plan. Why not something far more important, our families?

In 2022, pray and dive into generosity. Give to others what you would want yourself. If you crave kindness, then give it. If you need hope, then give hope, liberally, everywhere you go. Test for yourself and see how faithful God is to fill your cup full to overflowing as you dive in to generosity.  

Pam Pugh envisions a world where people are living joyful, generous lives giving their talent and treasure with purpose and intentionality.  

She leads a consulting practice focused on strategic planning and charitable giving. She is co-founder of Women Doing Well, which holds the distinction of conducting the largest research study of women, faith and philanthropy. 

She is a founding board member of VertuAssets Foundation, an organization that provides a pathway for individuals to give specialty assets to charitable causes. Pam has two decades of experience in philanthropy including leadership at the National Christian Foundation where she pioneered the asset giving program enabling hundreds of families to give generously.  

In 2016, Pam was named as one of the top 20 women in philanthropy. She serves on the board of Pink Retreats and Awana International. She and her family live in Atlanta, Georgia. 

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