I met Scott the summer after fourth grade.
We became the best-est of friends. And luckily, we have stayed friends. He is a brother to me. An eternal part of my story and my family’s story.
Recently, Ryan and I were at dinner with he and his wife Jessica. Jessica began to tell about a funny moment she had at work while on her lunch break. She recalled checking Facebook and seeing that I had posted a message that went something like, “A dear friend of mine since the 4th grade just bought 25 copies of my new CD to give out to his friends and family. I hope I’m as good of a friend to other people as they are to me.” She immediately knew who that friend was and called her husband.
“Hey- what are you doing?”
“Not much,” he replied. “What are you doing?”
“Well- I’m just at work, checking Facebook, wondering if we are the proud new owners of 25 copies of Jenny’s new CD?!?!?”
We all died laughing as we sat around the dinner table hearing this story. And Scott said he couldn’t help it. He had to support me. I was like his sister.
Scott is also the man who found out that Ryan and I needed to move from one apartment to another- in less than 24 hours- and showed up. I was 9 months pregnant and about to leave on the last leg of a tour. We went downstairs to find our van, trailer, merchandise and all our instruments gone. Not only did we lose everything we used to make a living; we lost our sense of safety. And I refused to bring a new little person into that kind of place. So we called the police and I immediately started packing.
A lot of generous people showed up for us that day. Scott sticks out because he drove 30 minutes and came in a 3-piece suit on his lunch break and worked, in the Texas sun, for nearly two hours. Who does that?
My friend Krista also sticks out. She showed up that day with a yellow legal pad. She handed her own kids off to a babysitter and told me to get in the car. She was going to drive me to apartment complexes across town until we found a suitable place to live. Dropping everything on her agenda that day- she took a broke, crying, pregnant girl to apartment complexes and negotiated lease agreements like a seasoned lawyer. When the agent didn’t seem like they would break- she would play up the “this is a pregnant woman whose livelihood was just stolen from the parking lot- don’t you have anything better to offer her?!” card. And then she would look at them with that look. You know the look. She helped me find the perfect place. The place our daughter called home until she was three-years-old.
Exactly one year later, March 2010, Krista was one of the first people to reach out after the fire that took away the rest of our livelihood. Krista is practical. Not so much the nurturing friend. But the friend who shows up with a legal pad. She called and said- “How much money do you need?” I said I didn’t know. She said- “To replace instruments and the things you need to make a living until the insurance money kicks in? How much?” After some adding up I told her about $10,000. “Gregg will be in touch asap”- she said. That’s her husband- our friend.
They sent us $15,000.
They told us to keep doing what we were doing- making music that brought the world a little bit of hope- and pay them back whenever the insurance money started coming in.
When I think of generous people- I think of Scott and Jessica; Greg and Krista. I think of so many people who are just- well-
Over the years I’ve learned a lot about what generous people have in common. They are free. They are people lovers. They are usually joyful. They are people of purpose. They are not necessarily rich by “Western standards”; just diligent and faithful with what they do have. And- truth be told- they are just slightly crazy.
They live differently than the rest of the world.
They live with open hands and open hearts.
They make decisions based less on logic and more on love.
They think a little less about themselves and a little more about others.
They see a bigger picture. Often beyond today. They remember yesterday and dream big for tomorrow.
25 CD’s? That doesn’t make logical sense. It’s excessive! It’s exorbitant! It’s generous. A legal pad, leaving your kids, and a day devoted to coaxing apartment agents? It’s excessive! It’s exorbitant! It’s generous.
A normal couple loaning a band $30,000 out of the kids college fun? It’s excessive! It’s exorbitant! It’s generous.
A dad who says “Are you 0k” long before he wonders if his stuff is ok. It’s excessive, exorbitant generosity.
People who live like this seem a little bit crazy. They stand starkly against the tendencies of human nature and show us what it looks like to turn things upside down and on their heads. Jesus was the ultimate example of generosity. And he taught that his ways would be so confounding to people fully immersed in themselves and the greedy, selfish nature of this world that they would actually hate him and his ways- because his way of living- stood in stark contrast to selfishness.
“In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus:
Who, being in very nature God,
did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage;
rather, he made himself nothing
by taking the very nature of a servant,
being made in human likeness.
And being found in appearance as a man,
he humbled himself
by becoming obedient to death—
even death on a cross!”
Philippians 2:5-8 seems to paint a pretty upside down idea of a typical “successful man.” And yet it was this man who changed the course of history because of who he was, how he lived and what he gave away freely. Jesus set the stage for what it looks like to live generously.
People who practice generosity don’t expect anything in return. In fact, often times there is no way to even give them something in return. They give without expecting. They give without selfishly hoarding. They humble themselves- giving freely of who they are and what they have.
Generous people give away intelligence, cures, time, money, grace, wisdom, friendship, power, hope and health. They do it backwards. Their idea of success is different. And at the end of the day- many people look at generous people- with puzzled eyes, all the while thinking, “You people are CRAZY.”
And they are. They live by different standards. Generous people are free, people-loving, joyful, purposeful people living counter-culturally in a “me-first”, security-driven, selfish culture.
And that makes generous people just a little bit crazy…
for all the right reasons.