By Richard Clark, Vice President for Advancement
My earliest memories are a mishmash of people, places, and stories I have rehearsed in my mind until they are locked in place like a finely-made Swiss watch.
Those remembrances not only provide me with moments of fond reflection, they have also formed the fabric of my life. Rehearsing the narratives of important events in our lives builds crucial moral and spiritual realities in us.
The students at Johnson know that what happens outside the classroom is as important as their grades. One day we hope they will look back on their time at Johnson and reminisce. But in the meantime, our prayer is that the narratives taking shape here will have already done their work in spiritually forming the character of Christ in them.
Perhaps you can reflect on your own life and remember how Christ has been formed in you through certain people and events. Let’s think about one Christ-like character trait: generosity.
Paul Schervish, Director Emeritus of The Center on Wealth and Philanthropy at Boston University, developed a concept he refers to as a philanthropic autobiography. Philanthropy comes from two Greek words that mean the love of humanity. It is not about how much you have but how much you love. Schervish’s concept is that we should take time to remember our journeys of generosity. He suggests the following questions to help in that memory exercise:
- What is your earliest memory of giving and volunteering? Was your family involved in some way?
- What are some of the practices of faith and giving that you remember from your childhood?
- Who have been some of your heroes and role models of generosity?
- To what people and places do you feel a sense of gratitude?
- What are the one or two life experiences that have shaped who you are today?
- What is precious to you? What values to you want to pass on to your family and friends?
Did you write down your answers? If not, why not? Someone in your life could probably benefit from reading it. It may help guide you in your next generosity decision.
Remember this: “Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work. As it is written: ‘They have freely scattered their gifts to the poor; their righteousness endures forever.’
Now he who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will also supply and increase your store of seed and will enlarge the harvest of your righteousness. You will be enriched in every way so that can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God” (2 Corinthians 9:6-11).