A Profile of Generosity

October 7, 2013

Recently Bill received a letter from a couple, Jon and Gwynn Barger, who along with their children, Jacob, Jordan and Taylor, volunteer at Breaking Bread on a regular basis. The letter speaks to some interesting questions: Who gains more from the experience of volunteering, the guest or the volunteer herself or himself? What is the true nature of generosity?

The letter and the questions are reminiscent of a time a number of years ago when a group of Americans were in dialogue with several artists from Rome hosting them in their villa south of Tuscany. The Americans began to thank their hosts for their generosity in hosting them. How selfless their Roman hosts were, and how indebted they felt. The Italians were confused and began talking among themselves trying to understand this word “generosity”. Finally one of them had an “ah hah” moment and said, Oh you are confusing generosity with altruism. When we are generous, we always get more back in return. Altruism is for the saints. Generosity is for the rest of us…

Click the link below to read the Barger’s letter to see how generosity works in one BSM family’s life.

The Barger’s Letter