When you consider the assets you have to give, you probably think about your money, possessions, and investments. But there’s one important asset that you may have overlooked. It’s your generosity story, and it is one of the most valuable things you can give – to your kids, to your community, and to yourself.
Download the worksheet, or keep reading below for instructions.
Whether you realize it or not, treasures lie within the experiences you’ve had on your giving journey. Those experiences are part of your testimony, the story that God has given you to tell. And that story could change someone’s life. It could help your granddaughter avoid a costly mistake with her inheritance. It could be the catalyst that sparked your friend’s journey toward a life-changing mission. And perhaps most importantly, it could help you discover a greater sense of purpose as the bigger picture of God’s story for your giving is revealed.
So how do you get started with sharing your story? There’s no right or wrong way to go about it, but to craft a compelling narrative, it helps to understand the basic elements of storytelling. And it can be a fun and rewarding exercise to look at your life like an ever-evolving story, whether you’re giving journey is just beginning or you’ve been practicing generosity for years.
Here’s a worksheet you can download and print to get started, which includes the exercises below. Ready to craft your unique generosity story?
- Outline your life experiences: Take a moment to jot down your most significant, life-defining experiences. It may help to do this visually. Draw a line and imagine that it represents your life. In the space above the line, write your high points – the joyful events, triumphs, good decisions, and unexpected blessings in your life. In the space below the line, write your low points – the tragedies, trials, disappointments, failures, and pain that have impacted you.
Despite all the challenges of this season, God is capable of using our giving to transform hearts (including our own) in a way that the world has never seen. We pray that this year-end is generosity’s finest hour. And we hope that everyone who is called to give will too.
- Reflect on your giving journey: Consider how your life experiences have impacted your journey of generosity. Has God used different circumstances to prepare you for your life’s mission? How does what you’ve been through affect the way you give? Do you see a connection between your experiences and the causes you care about? Is there a Scripture that has impacted your perspective of generosity? What are some of your most significant moments in giving, both good and bad?
- Do your research: Using your discoveries from exercise 1 and 2, make a list of your most defining experiences in life and in giving, and use them to create a timeline with dates, names, amounts, and any other specifics you can add. You may need to do some research to get your facts straight.
Doing your research and adding these details helps put your experiences in context and connect the dots – for you and for your audience. For example, you might discover that the day you decided to dedicate your life to running the food bank was exactly two years before the pandemic hit – just enough time for God to prepare you for the biggest mission of your life.
- Consider your characters: Make a list of the people who have had the greatest influence in your life and your giving. Start with the names you discovered in your research and add any others that come to mind. How will you include these characters and honor their role in your story? Can you remember an important conversation with someone that you could include as dialogue in your story? Can you interview one of these characters to get their point of view of your experience?
And don’t forget the characters who seem to have played a small role. For example, the person who went out of their way to take you to church every Sunday because your parents didn’t go. What would your story be without them now? As a busy adult, do you better understand the sacrifice they made? Are you that character in someone else’s life now? Will your children understand how important it is to write themselves into someone’s life, even in a small way?
- Craft and tell your story … from the heart: In its most basic form, your giving story is simply your personal narrative of when, why, and how biblical generosity has become part of your journey in life. Hopefully, these exercises have helped you look at that journey in a deeper way. As you start to write or record your story, remember that it takes much more than facts, dates, and descriptions to create an emotional connection with your audience. People want to know how you felt!
So be as honest and authentic as you can. When you share your pain, failures, and doubts, your storytelling becomes an intimate experience that draws people in. You can’t tell a good story without conflict. God uses conflict to build character and this is what you want to pass on.
So, there you have it – the basic steps to crafting your generosity story as it stands right now. Of course, your journey of generosity is still a work in progress, and you may want to revisit your narrative from time to time to update it with your new experiences, characters, and plot twists. Ultimately, God is the author and finisher of our faith. But we hope these exercises will help you continue to pursue God’s story for your giving and empower you to share it along the way.
You have a story worth telling. Steward it well.