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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.

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