Reflections: A Personal Journey of Generosity with Paul Gibson

Across the country, NCF’s team members are some of the brightest, most passionate experts in charitable giving. We share your biblical view of generosity, and that inspires our work every day. We know that everyone is on their own personal journey of generosity. We’re here to help you along your journey, and we take that honor seriously. 

As NCF team members, we’re often motivated by what we’ve experienced on our own journeys of generosity. This month, Paul Gibson, NCF Rocky Mountain senior gift advisor, shares his story. Paul’s journey includes leaving corporate America for Eastern Africa, and using God-given successes in his first half of life to do something of significance in his second half. 

Paul, how do you contribute to building God’s Kingdom through NCF? 

My role is to educate, encourage, and guide families in their journeys of Kingdom generosity. God puts it on their hearts to steward the resources He’s given them. My job is to help families understand how to do that. Together, we develop giving strategies that create opportunities to be generous, that might enable them to lower their taxes, and that increase the available resources they have to give to their favorite charities and ministries. 

Would you tell us about an unexpected experience you’ve had with generosity? 

I think of my life in halves. My “first half” was in the world of corporate business–working with fortune 100 companies in information technology and executive leadership. It served me and my family well, and I gained invaluable experience in relationship management, finance, and leading others. About 10 years ago, as I transitioned out of corporate America and into my “second half”, I had the opportunity to move my family to Uganda, East Africa to serve with a small non-profit whose mission is to serve the local orphan community. Among many things I learned during that time serving ‘the least of these’ in a developing country, God compassionately showed me things that I knew, but had forgotten: That life is more than a career, it’s about sharing His generosity through loving people. He reminded me that my “first half” provided experience and perspectives that had value in serving others missionally in my second half. I was to put myself out there to generously serve others and continue to say, “Lord, use me.” That is what I feel I’m doing now as I guide NCF families and givers through their generosity journeys. 

You use the phrase, “from success to significance.” Tell us what that means to you in terms of generosity. 

It’s a great thought, isn’t it? But it’s not mine. It’s the feeling of knowing you’ve achieved a measure of success in the first half of life, and it’s been wonderful. But your heart wants your second half to count for something far more. Something bigger than you: Significance. I had studied under  Bob Shank’s “The Masters Program” in terms of my ‘calling’, but  I found myself entering the second half with no real plan other than being open to God’s unique purposes for this time in my life. Biblical generosity is important to me, using all He’s given me–my talents, passions, experiences, and everything I am– in a new way, in a new half.

Like most of my journey over the past 10 years, when I free myself to follow God’s leading, so many real moments and opportunities that were not of my planning materialize–God stories, as I call them. Proof of what God can do with me and through me when I just allow Him to lead me. Joining NCF’s ‘generosity movement’ five years ago is just another example of that journey. What began as a volunteer opportunity to share my knowledge of relationship management and finance turned into saying “God use me as you wish,” and serving NCF givers full time. In doing so, my life and spiritual journey has become richer and more fulfilling.

You have four adult children and three grandsons. How are you leaving a personal legacy of generosity for them? 

And three outlaws (spouses of my kids), and hopefully more grandkids in the years to come! My wife and I have taught our children that God owns everything. He asks us to trust His provision for our family, whether much or little, and to seek His will in stewarding everything He’s entrusted to us. Teaching them to apply that in a way that feels personal and God-led is harder. It’s more about modeling that behavior for them versus just telling them. I never expected our time in East Africa to be a demonstration of generosity, but our children now share  stories of how that ‘unexpected’ decision by my wife and I  did more to ‘teach’ them about biblical generosity than anything we had ever said to them, or money we had given away to charities. Through my own life experience, and now with what I’ve learned from guiding NCF givers through this journey, I’m better equipped to give family and friends a safe and comfortable place to have these vital conversations in their journeys of generosity.   

I also want my kids and grandkids to know that charitable giving doesn’t have to just come from income. In fact, 91% of wealth is in the things we own: businesses, real estate, land, and other appreciated assets. If they understand the possibilities and opportunities to give from what they own and not just their annual income, I truly believe it expands their picture of what it can look like to be wise stewards through biblical generosity. They can be more creative with their giving strategies and give more to their favorite charities, ministries, and causes. Watching my family grow together in generosity is the greatest “second half” I could ever ask for.