Choosing to live generously

By Gauché Radley

We asked Mergon’s COO, Gauché Radley, to share some thoughts on choosing to live generously and why there is nothing quite like the privilege of giving. 

It was 2010, but the day feels like yesterday when I heard Mergon’s story for the first time. I wasn’t halfway through my cappuccino before my head was nodding yes to an invitation not yet even extended. Salary was irrelevant in that moment; I just wanted in. It was as if everything I had ever envisioned and dreamed of – architecting business with a redemptive and restorative agenda – had culminated in that one conversation; and I literally found what I didn’t quite know I was looking for.

It’s 11 years later, and I still feel most days like I’m living the dream. Not because Mergon is perfect, or because we haven’t had to navigate deep challenge over time – but simply because, by God’s abundant grace, my calling still aligns to the mandate we’ve kept clear. We are stewards in amazement, called to catalyse stories of Kingdom impact through generous giving. 

Scratch at our core, and I believe you will find in Mergon, a heart that aims to be radically generous.

Nothing more powerfully conveys the character of Christ than the act of giving – for God so loved the world He gave….Love compels us to act; to move towards the problem at hand, with compassion and conviction to carry the burden as our own. When we open our assets and wallets, our time and talents, for the sake of others, it’s as the glass shards of shattered ceilings fall; and new vistas of hope and opportunity are unveiled.

There is nothing quite like the privilege of giving. Here is what I have learnt about generosity, both in my personal and professional capacity, over the years – packaged as principles to unlock what 1 Timothy 6 calls, ‘a life that is truly life’.

Generosity Principle 1: it’s actually not about giving; it’s about receiving. 

The reality is, we can only give that which we have been given. God is the original ‘Landlord’; we are the tenants entrusted to manage and multiply His resources and benefits. The fact that everything we own is on heavenly loan, means that it’s not ultimately our money to spend; it’s rather God’s money to spend as He directs. As we grow in this understanding, we change our perspective on true ownership and shift the narrative from building dams to forging streams.

Generosity Principle 2: it’s not about volume; it’s about the heart.

When we talk about generosity, people tend to think we’re talking about money – and lots of it. The problem with this way of thinking, however, is that you end up assigning yourself to one of two camps. Either you’re left disqualified because you don’t have a lot of money to give; or you’re left deceived to think your greatest assets are predominantly material.

But the Bible presents a much richer view of generosity, whereby money is only one of several currencies. Volume is not what’s relevant – the posture of the heart is. Jesus after all used a 2-coin offering to show the world what extravagant giving looks like. Generosity extends far broader than what we can see or measure, to include the less-tangible treasures of our lives: our time, talents, relationships, thoughts, emotional wellbeing and yes, our money.

Generosity Principle 3: it’s not about hand outs; it’s about locking hands. 

When we move towards problems and people with a generosity of spirit, we have the opportunity to write a different story over the old ‘hand out, top down’ paradigm. We build a more authentic expression of partnership that brings not just our ‘social capital’ – like knowledge, skills and networks – but our very selves to the table: the best and the worst of ourselves.

If we are both committed to walk the long haul with one another, then we can risk an ‘all in’ approach to the relationship, leaving some leg room for failure and risk. This architects an atmosphere for healing – an environment where people and their exceptional work can be dignified.

The reality is, none of us have all the answers to society’s problems. But the more that we can work together, and lock arms across industries and societal sectors, the more effectively we can co-carry the load and enjoy the privilege of partnering for change.

Generosity Principle 4: it’s not an obligation; it’s an invitation.

Although we technically know that money can’t buy happiness, society suggests that we should at least try to buy our way there. We clench our fists tight around our ‘hard earned money’; and only when there’s good reason or legitimate guilt driving our decisions, will we occasionally open our hands. Generosity is admirable in any culture; but it’s often gravely misunderstood to be some kind of moral obligation, a necessary step in the lifelong striving to becoming a ‘good person’.

But Jesus turns obligations into invitations, by pointing our attention to what lasts beyond eternity’s sliding door. He urges us in Matthew 6:20 to ‘stockpile heavenly treasures that cannot be stolen and will never rust, decay, or lose their value. For your heart will always pursue what you esteem as your treasure.’ He seems to suggest that we can outrun the pace of greed and materialism, live a ‘life to the full’, and safeguard our investments here on earth, by giving our treasures away.

Generosity Principle 5: it’s not a formula; but it is a discipline.

Like everything we do, our giving should be responsive and free, not prescriptive or formulaic in our expectations to gain a return on our investments. It’s tempting to want something on the other side of our giving. After all, reaping begets sowing; and who doesn’t want to get something in return? But generosity is literally defined in 2 Corinthians 9 as a ‘simple goodness that gives without reserve’, void of hidden agendas or dangling carrots, whereby the reward is in the giving itself.

And though there is no formula, there is a definite degree of skill, discipline and focused planning needed to grow and diversify our giving. Even the best of intentions are entropic in the absence of a well-defined strategy to scaffold them, especially in the post Covid world we live in today. The avalanche of unprecedented challenge which descended on our planet last year, has forced us to mine our methodologies, and to seek new, innovative ways to keep honouring our commitments to our partners. Without the expertise and exceptional ingenuity of our stakeholders involved, we would not have been able to sustain our giving through the chaos.

I’m grateful for the journey, and for the opportunity to keep learning what generous living really looks like, over our dining room and boardroom tables. I often get it wrong, but by God’s grace, I’ll keep trying to fall forward into true financial freedom. This is not the kind of freedom that keeps you stockpiled, impervious to financial trouble; but it’s a freedom to give happily and unreservedly, as God inspires. That is the kind of legacy we want to leave behind at Mergon, and the only one I believe will heal this nation.

All rights reserved. Copyright 2018 Mergon Group.

Building a lasting, Kingdom-focused investment group

 

By Pieter Faure

More and more contemporary writers refer to the value and importance of a core purpose as a key to attracting the right people and building a great organisation. In reality, the world is just discovering what Scripture has taught us for millennia: ‘Where your treasure is there your heart will also be.’ (Matthew 6:21).

Mergon always had a sense of purpose, or ‘calling’, but it was only in the last few years that we’ve really started to place that calling – to be catalysts for Kingdom impact – at the centre of all we do.

For us, being catalysts for Kingdom impact refers to our passion to:

– see the good news of Christ shared and people being discipled to become Kingdom ambassadors.
– transform culture by inspiring redemptive stewardship of God-entrusted resources.
– see the poor and marginalised uplifted, filled with hope and experience dignity restored.
– bring about reconciliation and peace in our nation and beyond.

We actively communicate and cultivate this calling and recognise that each person in our organisation, from receptionist to CEO, has a unique opportunity to relate to it and express it, in different ways, in different spheres.

The result for our organisation is that:

1. We are taken out of the centre, as we surrender our own ambitions for something greater than ourselves, and remind ourselves that we are merely instruments in the hand of the Master.

2. It changes our decision-making priorities, becoming our true north as we filter everything through the lens of ‘how will this facilitate increasing Kingdom-expansion impact.’

For example, our investment mandate is specifically geared towards our calling to ‘generate growing, sustainable distributions for maximum Kingdom impact.’

3. It breaks the sacred/secular divide, ensuring that we do not regard those team members who engage in business as ‘secular’ and those who engage in ministry as ‘sacred’. Rather, we are all part of the Kingdom Expansion team. As we put calling at the center, we continue to discover the expanding nature thereof, we find new and diverse ways to give expression thereto, and we continue to grow towards becoming the fullest and truest expression to which God has called us.

A counter-culture of stewardship

A culture of biblical stewardship — our shared set of values, beliefs, and behaviors — underpins the character of Mergon. It applies to us collectively and individually and finds expression in three ways:

1. Being ambassadors of Christ compels us to:

– be relational – distinguishing ourselves by purposefully caring not only about outcomes but also for the people with whom we work.
– be servant-leaders – using our influence to serve, equip and encourage.
– be above reproach – act with integrity in all we do.

2. Being faithful with what we’ve been entrusted with and expressing it through our core values:

– humility (teachable; stewards – not owners)
– courage (innovation, risk, conviction)
– mastery (diligence, excellence)
– partnership (building together, no power plays)

3. Being dependent – committing ourselves, individually and corporately, to work from a place of relationship with our majority ‘Shareholder’. We enquire of Him and wait on Him, trusting He will guide us through wisdom, unity and peace.

Though seemingly obvious, it is highly challenging to live out this culture authentically in a world of complex negotiations and tough funding decisions. The extent to which we remain true to these tenets has a direct influence on our credibility and impact across all spheres of engagement.

Commissioned to be catalysts

Why catalysts? A catalyst is a small dose of substance that, when released into the right environment can cause a disproportionate effect: scripture talks about a small seed sowed to yield a great harvest.

We ask ourselves how we can leverage that which has been put in our hand — funds, knowledge, experience, networks, and relationships — to facilitate a disproportionate impact. This has led to various groundbreaking strategic and innovative initiatives and partnerships. As we mix our endeavors with faith we entrust them back into God’s hands with an expectation that He can do so much more than we can ask or imagine.

Despite many challenges, we have successfully transitioned from a founder/entrepreneur-led business into a sustainable, next-generation group that is committed to being effective instruments for the Kingdom.

We trust that our journey and the principles briefly shared here will encourage fellow entrepreneurs to prayerfully consider how they can facilitate similar transitions. What you have heard, entrust these things to faithful men who themselves will be able to teach others. (2 Timothy 2:2)

All rights reserved. Copyright 2018 Mergon Group.