3 lessons on giving from Betty Joseph and Joseph Martin

Joseph was part of a big company and led their software testing practice. A few years ago, he saw an opportunity – gaps that his current company could not fill. “That was divine wisdom to Joseph,” his wife Betty says.

The family took a risk and started a new firm. “It all fell into place that we should do this, and do it together.” Betty laughs, “He’s the boss at work, and I’m the boss at home.”

Sometimes, to the world’s eye, it looks like you’re going down

Betty calls starting a business “intense training.” Joseph says, “Soon we were deeply in debt and didn’t know the way out. We’d lost 95 percent of the company and 100 percent of our personal savings. What we knew was that this was our training ground, our wilderness, the manna was there daily, nothing more and nothing less.”

“And it was then that we were invited to the JOG,” Joseph laughs. A JOG – short for Journey of Generosity –  was created by an organization called Generous Giving. It’s an overnight experience with peers to dive into biblical generosity through inspiring stories and intimate conversations.

“It didn’t make sense at the time. We were hoping that someone would show generosity to us, and not the other way around.”

The world is going to keep saying, before you give, you need this amount of capacity, but I believe God just needs you to be available.

Today, their firm, StrongBox, is now thriving.  They are in the green every month, even without any salesmen. “God just keeps sending us business,” Betty says, “and there has been no lack. It’s absolutely perfect.” Joseph says that the perfection in the way this has happened is evidence that their success didn’t come from their own hands. “I can guarantee that it was not us; it was God Himself.”

It was difficult, Betty says, but there was always peace. “Sometimes, to the world’s eye,” Joseph says, “it looks like you’re going down, but you know that you’re on the right path when the peace of God reigns supreme in your heart.” And there was abundant joy in their family. “The children saw us go through difficult times. But I tell them, ‘Appa and Amma are going through something and need your support.’ I tell them to pray. As God comes through, that encourages our children.”

We’re all just here to hand it over to someone else

Being generous has to do with your core nature – how you handle everything God has given you, Betty says.  “We know that God is a generous God and it’s all God’s,” says Joseph, “And we’re all just here to hand it over to someone else.”

Betty and Joseph think broadly about generosity. The JOG didn’t just change how they think about giving. It also changed how they view parenting and running their business.

“When you’re your own boss, you have to remember that you’re still accountable to someone else,” says Joseph. “That helps you treat everything with utmost care. You’re not really the boss.”

We know that God is a generous God and it’s all God’s.

“Even our children are not ours,” Betty says, “God’s given us the responsibility of raising three girls for his kingdom. We’re here just to introduce them to their Father. When my daughters meet him, they should not be surprised by him; because of our lives, they should understand what their heavenly Father is like.”

Generosity is a message of liberation

“You have these talents and the master has given it to you,” Joseph says. “Don’t hide it under the carpet.” Stewardship is how we handle what is not ours. There is no ownership for us. just stewardship. “The world is going to keep saying, before you give, you need this amount of capacity,” says Betty, “but I believe God just needs you to be available.”

“All I have is God’s so that’s who I am going to be accountable to,” says Joseph. “And that’s one person I can never bluff! I cannot give him false accounts. Like, ‘No, I really needed that car that day.’”

Joseph calls generosity “a message of liberation.” He invites people to JOGs, and they are freed. That’s how he sees it. “Greed stops you from living the life that God has designed for you.” But understanding you’re a steward of a kind and good master gives you rest. And we should enjoy it.


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