THE TRANSFORMING POWER OF GENEROSITY
LRE: How did you develop such a personal interest
BK: Growing up I was not a generous person. I was
“a taker” more than I was “a giver.” My life was really transformed when I came
to know Christ at the age of 21. I began
to study to see what the Bible says about finances and generosity. I learned that the way I had been approaching
life, and money, was not God’s way.
This led me to move from operating according to worldly financial
principles, to a practice of living by God’s.
LRE: Was there an event in your life that caused
you to make that change?
BK: Yes! The day came when I had a very little
pay check and a big pile of bills. I sensed God prompting me with a big
question: “Would I honor Him with what I had?”
What I had wasn’t enough! It was a “God moment” that pressed home the
question: “Brian, will you trust Me with your finances?” I had to make the
choice. Would I trust God by writing out
the check to God first? I felt prompted to give a tenth, and did. That started a journey that’s never stopped.
Everything changed when I had the understanding that God is the Owner and I’m
the manager. It changed everything.
LRE: What makes a person a generous steward?
BK: For me, it has been about learning how to be
an intentional giver and to operate in faith more than fear. Often people don’t
give because they’re afraid. In reality,
they feel that “If I give, I’ll have less.” I truly believe that “generosity is
God’s crazy mathematics”—if we give, and honor God, we’ll have more
contentment, more wisdom, more guidance from Him, than if we don’t give. So for
me, giving is the highest financial priority I have. There is nothing
higher—not a mortgage, not a car, not a credit card payment. My highest
priority is to honor God with whatever He gives me. Living this out has
sometimes been challenging, but I’ve done it without regrets. Ultimately we
become generous because of God’s generosity towards us, as especially seen in
the gift of His Son.
Once we understand what it is that God has entrusted to us, we can then use that for the kingdom of God.
LRE: So you are saying that our generosity should
come in response to the generosity God has already shown, and not in order to
get Him to be generous with us?
BK: I believe there’s a heretical teaching out
there that says, “We give to get.” The Bible teaches we are to give from what
we have—from what God has already given us.
Another phrase I like to use is, “We don’t give to get a blessing; we
give to be a blessing.” When we are intentionally generous because of what God
has given us, or entrusted to us, then we become ‘Jesus—with skin on’ in the
life of someone else.
MEK: Part of what Brian does, is to help create an
awareness of the needs of others, and then how we can use the different gifts
God has given us, to meet those needs.One of my operating principles is to discover what gifts one does have. This would include one’s income, other financial blessings, but also our assets, skills, abilities, hobbies, interests, life-experiences and our relationships. Once we understand what it is that God has entrusted to us, we can then use that for the kingdom of God.
LRE: You wrote the book, Seven Keys to Open-Handed Living in a
Tight-Fisted World, at the time the Giving Pledge was in the news. Are they related?
BK: The Giving Pledge is something Warren Buffet
and Bill Gates started to encourage billionaires to give away half of their
wealth during their lifetime. When I
saw that, I thought, “Giving and generosity is not just for the wealthy. It’s
for every person on the planet.” So what
I tried to do was to identify the key aspects of living a generous life,
regardless of where in the world one might live. I identified seven “S’s” so
that anyone on the planet could say, “I want to make a God-honoring generosity
LRE: What are those seven “S’s”?
BK: They are quite simple. First, submit 100% of yourself, who you are, and all
you have, or ever will have, to the Lord. Second, study the Scriptures on finances and
generosity. There are lots of verses to choose from since there are 2,350
verses on that subject. Third, see what blessings God has provided,
whether they be money, assets, time ability, skills, possessions—whatever God
has given you. Next, set aside resources to give. This is where you have a plan to separate
what you “live-on” from what you “give-on.” In addition to our personal
checking and saving accounts, we have a ‘giving account.’ We give a tenth of
our main income to our main ministry. But we have other financial blessings
that come into our lives, so that’s the fund from which we give further
offerings. God blesses us in so many ways, so our giving fund constantly has
money in it to give. We give to
missions, we give to people in need, we give secretly sometimes and support
different projects. It comes out of our “Count Your Blessings” giving
fund.” The fifth “S” is
systematic giving. There are ministries that God calls you to faithfully
support, so give to your local church and missions systematically. It’s about regular, faithful giving. The sixth “S” is spontaneous giving. This is
different from systematic giving. This is for what the Bible refers to as
special offerings. For example, in the Old Testament when Moses built the
tabernacle, the people gave special offerings. And that’s spontaneous giving.
That’s where God just moves in your heart, and when He does, you might not even
be able to see how it’s going to work out, but you just know that God has
prompted you. It might be to give a bag of groceries to somebody, or money to
someone else. We don’t worry about tax deductions. The Bible says that if you
give to the poor, you lend to the Lord, and He will repay. So a far better
promise than a tax deduction, is God’s promise to repay what you gave. And the last “S” is to simplify our lives so we can give
even more. Once we understand that generosity is a very joy-filled life, and
that you can be a true blessing, it can get very exciting. We can simplify our
lifestyle or set our lifestyle at less than we make, and say, “God, I’m going
to live on...” whatever the number is, $20,000, $50,000, or $75,000, or
whatever, and tell God, “I’ll give the rest.” It’s just one way of becoming a
more generous person.
“live-on” from what you “give-on.”
LRE: This sounds so
‘counter-culture’ to the lifestyle all around us.
BK: I explain it this way.
When I first started giving, I had debt I couldn’t pay. I had more month than I
had money. I wasn’t a giver. I couldn’t see how I could give. But what I
discovered was that when I began to give, when I said, “OK, God, this is what
You’ve given me. I’m going to give from
what I have, I’m going to trust You with my finances and future,” something
happened inside of me. I use this phrase: “When you’re a pauper and you give,
you’ll feel like a prince. But if you’re a prince and you don’t give, you’ll
feel like a pauper.” There’s something about being a generous person, that,
even when I had debts I couldn’t pay, there was something inside of me that
changed. I began to truly walk with God—more intimately— through the act of
giving, and through acts of generosity.
LRE: What have you learned from all the years in
which you have taught others about being generous.
BK: I tell people, “There’s no
exemption in Scripture when it comes to giving. God calls every single person,
rich and poor, and in between, to be financially generous with whatever they