A heritage of receiving and giving

After working for a large foundation and helping to found Generous Giving, Daryl Heald had helped many people along their journeys of generosity. But it wasn’t until later that he realized the importance of being a receiver.

By Daryl Heald

“Freely you have received; freely give.”
– Matthew 10:8b (NASB)

How could I have missed it? Looking back on my journey, it’s tough to admit this. For years, I aimed to help people grasp the value proposition that it is more blessed to give than receive (Acts 20:35). I thought people needed to hear the “give” message, not the “receive” message. So, like only God can do, he set me on a path to help me see the depth and breadth of this truth. Little did I know the journey this path would take my family on or the battle I would have with pride, fear, and anxiety. But eventually, it brought me to peace.

Getting the sequence right

Jesus doesn’t say first to give. He tells us first to receive. Looking back now, I know why I missed it: I didn’t like the implication. I didn’t want to be a receiver. I played that role in my childhood years, when my parents, as new believers, sold their large veterinary practice and went into ministry with Navigators. I was only nine.

Often, I felt the downward economic trajectory of that decision. Smaller house, different vacations, hand-me-down clothes, and used, unreliable cars. My view of dependency didn’t feel or look good. If that was the receiving end of giving, I resolved that if I had anything to do about it, things would change.

But God has a sense of humor. In my youth, I worked in many jobs and was driven to succeed in pure economic terms, so I would not have to rely on others … or God. I worked my way through university and got into commercial real estate. God was preparing my heart and giving me skills for future work he had for me.

A few key people and circumstances really impacted me. The first of these were my wife’s parents. How they talked in conversation and how they lived their lives moved me. Along the way, I attended a Bible study on money, read books on biblical stewardship and Christian generosity, listened to speakers talk on the topic, and processed what I heard with trusted friends. God was working on me and in me.

An ironic twist

After 10 years in Atlanta, my world got larger when my wife’s father asked me to join him at the family philanthropic foundation. How ironic that God would put me in the position of a professional giver! While it seemed like I would serve in a grant-making role, God had another plan. He wanted me to see his heart, to learn his intentions, and ultimately change mine. He had me on a journey this whole time. I just hadn’t connected all the dots.

While I was working at the foundation, God exposed me to the work of his kingdom all over the world. I even had the opportunity to start taking my two oldest children – Frances and Hallie – with me on some trips. While I met with ministry leaders, all my nine- and 10-year-old girls wanted to do was “go hold babies” at an orphanage. It didn’t matter where in the world we were.

Soon, they were asking, “Can’t we take a couple of them home?” We already had five biological kids, so I felt very content. Frankly, the thought of adoption scared me. I remember where I was sitting when they said they thought God was asking our family to adopt. I replied like any other man. “You’re going to have to ask your mom.” She was a pushover; I was the holdout.

As I emotionally processed the possibility and all it meant, I was locked into a cycle of fear, afraid even to pray about it, because I didn’t want to hear an answer that didn’t sync with mine. Simultaneously, my wife, Cathy, began exploring the options and quickly found out that we couldn’t be approved to adopt because of how many children we already had.

I breathed a sigh of relief. Maybe this was just a test.

But a few days later, a phone call came out of the blue.

More than a test

An agency informed Cathy that they could probably get us approved for a special needs adoption. Cathy told me about this conversation. All my fears escalated. None of this made sense. I told her that it was not an option. So much for thinking it was just a test.

Later, around the dinner table, my daughters asked for an update on the process. I told them that, because we had five kids, no one would approve us. (I wasn’t going to share about the phone call.) While they were disappointed, Cathy had all the information. She stared at me in disbelief. I wasn’t being truthful.

After an awkward silence, I relented and told them about the call. If we would consider a special needs adoption, then we could probably get matched with a child.

Immediately, when I said “special needs” child, Frances and Hallie looked at each other and back at me. I saw it. “What was that look between you?” I asked.

They said, “Dad, there was one part of what we believe God wants our family to do that we didn’t tell you. He asked us to adopt one that no one else wanted.”

I was stunned and ashamed. What I thought was bad news they heard as confirmation. I was undone. We all agreed that night to move forward. It had taken me time to get there. I was stuck. “Who chooses brokenness?” I thought. God, in patience and love, answered me. “I do. I choose brokenness, because I chose you.”

Receiving first

I’m still on my journey. I’ve learned to freely receive every good gift from the Father first, then enjoy, and share (James 1:17). As I think back, this is precisely what my parents were doing during my childhood. What a godly heritage!

Daryl Heald has helped to launch several organizations, including Generous Giving and Generosity Path. He travels the world encouraging generosity and resides in Lookout Mountain, Georgia with his wife Cathy. They have nine children.

This piece was originally part of the free ebook Purposeful Living: Financial Wisdom for All of Life, compiled by Gary G. Hoag and Tim Macready and produced by Christian Super.

Photo: Lili Popper, Unsplash

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