Whether you realize it or not, treasures lie within the experiences you’ve had on your giving journey. Those experiences, as well as the values that led you toward them, are part of your testimony – the story that God has given you to tell. And that story could change someone’s life.
This could be one of the most meaningful (and fun!) things you’ll do all year.
It could help your granddaughter avoid a costly mistake with her inheritance. It could be the catalyst that sparks your friend’s journey toward a life-changing mission. And it might help you discover a greater sense of purpose as the bigger picture of God’s story for your own giving is revealed.
So how do you get started with sharing about what God has taught you? We’ve created a worksheet with the basics for crafting a compelling story. This can be a fun and rewarding exercise to look at your life as an ever-evolving story, whether your giving journey is just beginning or you’ve been practicing generosity for years.
Download the worksheet, or keep reading below for instructions.
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 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.
Once you’ve completed all these steps, you should have a better grasp on your giving journey from a storytelling perspective. Now, it’s time to look and pray for opportunities to share it. A good place to start is your local NCF team. Other important people who need to hear it might include: Your spouse, your children and grandchildren, your parents or older family members, your pastor, your business partner, your employees, young people you mentor, and ministry leaders of the charities you support.
As the author and finisher of your faith continues to shape your story, we hope these exercises will help you continue to document it and empower you to share it along the way.
You have a story worth telling. Steward it well.