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Monday, June 25, 2007

The Power of Generosity


The Power of Generosity is an excellent book. Dave Toycen has led World Vision Canada and been involved in humanitarian work for a long time, as a result this book has a rich vein of personal testimony, powerful stories and insightful reflection on generosity.

Some books the stories are unoriginal and the connections trite and cliched but not here. Sometimes the stories outweigh the reflection to an extent that the point is not sufficiently made but the criticism is minor compared to the many strengths.

Toycen examines what generosity is, who is generous, the power of it, the difference it makes, how it related to money and of course how to be generous! It is also littered with great quotes and pithy, powerful statements such as:

"We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give" (Norman MacEwan)
"Generosity has the power to leave a legacy of goodwill"
"For the truly generous person, the only option is to look for opportunities to turn a devastating experience into a healing one."
"Generosity pays dividends"

I am convinced that Toycen is right when he says generosity is a 'neglected virtue' and that unlocking the power of generosity is only way to discover simplicity of life, faith and heart. Some are burdened by the need for simplicity because of environmental fears, guilt about social injustice or as a prophetic statement. I'm not sure I could buy into any of that, I want to live simply because I live generously. My aim then perhaps isn't greater simplicity but greater generosity. The more I love the opportunity to give, the more I find reward in the risks that come with it, the more likely that those things will take priority over satisfying my own wants. Simplicity may arrive as I travel the road of generosity.

I'm grateful for this book's encouragement on that road.

1 comments:

Jeremy said...

I agree, generosity is a much better path to simplicity than guilt. I think this is why the Bible encourages us to give stuff away so often. Jesus in particular seems to recommend reckless generosity, but if holding things lightly leads us to a more giving spirit, a more sacrificial nature, then we should try taking Jesus at his word. Even if it is rather scary!
Thanks for the recommendation.

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