A generous person will prosper. Whoever refreshes others will be refreshed. – Proverbs
Many years ago I was working for a non-profit in Oakland, making just about minimum wage.
I was rich in passion for helping at-risk youth, but I was certainly not rich in my bank account.
A close friend of mine was also just starting out his career. He was a little richer in the bank account sense, but really rich with love for his then-girlfriend. So much so, that he was saving up for an engagement ring.
I was excited for my friend and wanted to help. Without much thought I sent him a check – I think it was for $100 – to help him reach his goal. It was just about all that was in my bank account at the time.
He called me up to thank me – and to make sure that I hadn’t lost my mind. He reminded me that I was living on peanuts.
But for me, it was a no-brainer.
One, the people that I was working with and trying to help get off the streets, had even less than I did. I knew I was fortunate and, in a weird way, I thought of myself as wealthy. It was clear that my good fortune was a gift to be shared.
Two, he was a dear friend. We had shared life together, and so even though the money was in my bank account, in some sense, it felt like our money.
Finally, I had spent the previous year and a half living hand to mouth as I worked to help out in a low-income neighborhood. During that time, I found that the more I was generous in serving others, the more resources seemed to come my way.
I had become convinced that if you give generously, you will lack no good thing yourself.
Several years later, I had completely forgotten about this story.
I had transitioned to working for technology companies and my earnings had changed dramatically. All along the way though, this idea of generosity being integral to my own personal success and fulfillment was imprinted on my heart.
At the suggestion of another friend, I started a “generosity account”.
It was simply a second checking account into which I direct-deposited a portion of each paycheck. During the course of the year, I’d let the funds in this account build up and then at the end of the year I’d give the money away to people and causes that needed it.
It was really fun. I felt like Santa Claus.
After I had sold a startup that I co-founded, I was hit with a windfall of cash. My friend called me, and he reminded me about the engagement ring.
Dude, I can’t help but think that a lot of these opportunities that you have had have been a result of your generosity. I think it’s a God thing.
Frankly, I knew in my heart he was right. I also knew that I was being called to even greater generosity.
Now, generosity might not be the only thing that you need in order to develop wealth, but it’s certainly a really good first step.
What do you think? Am I being overly sentimental or does generosity have a connection to wealth? Sound off in the comments.