We all strive to teach children about sharing. Looking at the character trait of generosity requires taking a hard look at ourselves to see how we struggle with sharing.
Is it money, possessions, energy, talents, passion, time? Often the trait of generosity first brings to mind giving and sharing financially with others, which is one aspect, but there are many ways to be generous. And when we build on the character trait of generosity, we can shape a family, a workforce and a community that is stronger together.
While reflecting on generosity, we also have to look at the reasons we may have for not giving. The reasons can be many, from fear of being taken advantage of to an unwillingness to become involved, or simply because we think we are too busy. However, working through the obstacles to generosity will impact us even more than the receiver.
Earlier this month, a daily Advent reading posed the question, “What can you give away this week?” After reflecting, I responded that I could do better at giving away my time, my empathy, and my compassion. And even though I think many would describe me as a caring person, I recognize that I go through life in a hurry. When I go through life in a hurry, I also recognize that I miss out on seeing opportunities for generosity.
It’s hard to move focus from self to others when one is constantly in a hurry and completely focused on one’s own schedule. Schedules have to be maintained, and there are times when one has to be at a certain place at a certain time, but unfortunately, that can develop into a sense of always being in a hurry.
That same day, I had an appointment after work, and afterwards stopped at a small shop on the way to pick up dinner. When I was checking out, the store clerk asked if I was in a hurry and if it would be OK for her to train a new person as she rang up my purchase. I responded that it was OK but unfortunately only after what seemed like a long hesitation. The process only took a few minutes, and as I was leaving the store, my morning commitment came to mind. It was only 12 hours earlier that I had committed to being more generous with my time, my empathy and my compassion, and once again I got caught up in being in a hurry.
Even though the new employee had the opportunity to be trained, I wish it would have been without hesitation on my part, and I wish I would have looked at the moment as an opportunity to share my time, my empathy, and compassion with someone who was starting a new job and learning a new process.
Sometimes we may think that generosity has to be big to make a difference, but generosity – regardless of the size and regardless of whether we are giving our resources, possessions, energy, talents, passion or time – makes a difference. And even a little generosity can make a big difference.
You can learn more about Owasso’s Character Initiative at owassocharacter.org.