Blooms of Hope in a World of Uncertainty: Growing Generosity Today
By Rick Young, TPF’s President
Like many of you, for me these last few months have been at times jarring and unsettling. As someone who has become used to being on the road 60 to 80% of a work week over the last 16 years, staying at home and not being with our community of partners has been a definite adjustment. Zoom calls have allowed me to keep in touch, but I honestly miss the personal touch of gathering together.
While many of you may have taken up new hobbies such as baking, which would be a disaster in the making for me, I have taken up gardening. In fact, I have become obsessed with having gardens that burst with color. Early in the process, a neighbor stopped during her nightly walk to share that the flowers brightened her day and made her smile. That was all the motivation I needed to add more colors and plant more flowers. You can CLICK HERE for a glimpse of my garden and a brief video message from me.
Jesus often used examples of farming in his parables to instruct and guide his disciples and followers, and I’ve done the same thing here. As I stop to reflect on my new hobby, I realize how the keys to successful gardening can be directly applicable to our practice of generosity and the stewardship of God’s gifts:
- You must first plant to have any chance of prosperity. If we do not offer others the opportunity to share their God given possessions, time, and talents, they will not know that it is a possibility. There would be no chance of color in my garden if I had not taken the time to plant the flowers. Some plants thrive in sun while others do not, and some need more moisture than others. Clearly it is necessary to spend some time learning about your environment and those who you hope to reach. Plants need space to grow so it is always wise to have a strong plan. But first and foremost, you must get started.
- Plants must be watered and nurtured. Just putting the plants in the ground and hoping and praying that they will grow is not enough. They need regular tending, watering, and trimming. Those of us who live here know gardening in Texas summers presents its own special problems. We can read books and guides, but we must remember that one solution does not work for all. The local gardener understands and appreciates the conditions and adapts his/her approach to help the flowers grow. Similarly, we must remember that our audiences are usually diverse, and it is critical to be purposeful about how you talk to them to successfully communicate our generosity message.
- The right tools make all the difference. There are tools for weeding, digging, chopping, and so much more. Having the correct tool to complete the job is essential to success as well as limiting frustration. Trying to plant a bush with a trowel is a long and unpleasant job. TPF offers various free printed resources to help congregations and institutions begin or enhance their legacy and generosity programs, such as brochures, bulletin inserts, and handouts. We also offer seminars and workshops conducted by our Relationship Managers (by Zoom for the time being).
- Even with great care, not all plants blossom. Though we might wish that all our efforts were rewarded, there are always some plants that refuse to produce and flourish. This does not mean that we give up, but rather indicates that we celebrate and enjoy those that do manage to grow and bloom. When it comes to legacy planning, the planter of the seeds may not be the one who gets the joy of celebrating the harvest.
We at TPF enjoy helping individuals and congregations/institutions/organizations develop legacy programs that will enhance and enable mission. We offer resources, consultations, along with policies and procedures to assist you. If you have any questions about our resources, please reach out to your Relationship Manager or directly to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.