Jump Start # 2723
Genesis 13:9 “Is not the whole land before you? Please separate from me; if to the left, then I will go to the right; or if to the right, then I will go to the left.”
Our verse today is part of the conversation that Abraham had with Lot. They were traveling together and the land could not sustain all their flocks. The herdsmen of both men were not getting along. Trouble was about to explode on many fronts. And, here, Abraham speaks. Two wonderful and connecting qualities are demonstrated by Abraham. He shows leadership and he illustrates a generous heart that is unselfish. You put those two qualities within a person and great things will happen.
What is interesting about all of this is that in just about every way we can think, Abraham should have told Lot which direction to take his flocks. Abraham was older than Lot. Yet, that doesn’t enter the picture. Abraham was the one that God had chosen, not Lot. Abraham was on a divine mission, not Lot. Abraham had obeyed the Lord by leaving Ur. Lot was just tagging along. Rather than commanding, ordering or simply telling Lot, this is what is going to happen, he gave Lot the first choice. You pick which direction. If you move left, I’ll move right. If you move right, I’ll move left. Lot chose the plains near Sodom. They were good pastures.
Many lessons can be pulled from this wonderful story. As we head into the holiday season, let’s give some thought to generosity. The heart of a generous person. That’s Abraham. He didn’t save the best for himself.
One of the qualities of generosity is to view giving as a blessing rather than a duty. Some will ask before they give, “What’s in it for me?” What if the reply was “nothing.” Up to this point in Genesis, Abraham had been taking care of Lot. Later, after the disaster at Sodom, it would be Abraham that rescued Lot through the hands of the Lord. Lot doesn’t seem to have done much for Abraham. The generous heart doesn’t think about that. The generous heart wants to lift the load that is weighing someone down.
The heart of the generous person is willing to go the second mile. He does this even when he is tired from walking the first mile. The generous person ignores the mile markers. He is happy to make others happy.
The heart of the generous person understands that God has been extremely generous to him. He is in a small way only doing what God has already done to him. He didn’t deserve the blessings from Heaven. He is thankful, grateful and now passing on the same to others. The stingy person wants to horde all the blessings and keep everything for himself.
The heart of the generous person is kind. You see that in the flow of Abraham’s words. Rather than telling Lot, he allowed Lot to choose first. Much too often our image of leading comes from what we see in the military. Orders, commands, and not allowing much conversation in return is how most remember their days in the armed forces. You were told. You didn’t have many choices. Abraham didn’t lead that way. And, maybe in our homes and in our congregations we’ve given too many commands and not allowed people to make choices. Leadership ought to lift one up and not make on feel imprisoned or suppressed.
One of the outcomes of leadership is developing people, whether our family or our church, to get to the point where they can lead themselves. We want them to think things through and to make choices that are Biblical and right. In a family this is part of the maturing process that leads to one leaving father and mother and standing on their own. There are many grown up kids who are not grown up on the inside. They continue to make poor decisions and they continue to rely heavily upon the parents to bail them out of trouble. One wonders what will happen when the parents are no longer around.
Generosity is much more than giving something to someone. It’s a spirit and an attitude. It’s wanting others to succeed. Generosity is not about giving things as much as it is investing in people. Generosity is sitting down and showing someone the ropes that you have learned. Generosity is making things easier for those who follow. Generosity is about believing in others.
And, when you put this generous spirit in the heart of a leader, great things will happen. Each person and their story becomes important to the leader. Every journey becomes important to the leader. And, once a good heart has tasted the generosity from others, he too, wants to help where he can. We use the expression “paying forward.” That’s nice when at the drive through of a coffee shop, but you are being nice to a stranger that likely you’ll never see again.
Imagine this Genesis story if Abraham did not have the generous spirit. What if Abraham simply told Lot to move the opposite way of Sodom. Abraham was the one on the mission, so he would take the best for himself. He earned it. He deserved it. He was older and that’s just the way it works. But, Lot, sitting the opposite side, would be thinking how selfish Abraham was. That would be enough for their relationship to start pulling apart. And, had the roles changed, would Lot have come to Abraham’s rescue if he was in Sodom? One wonders.
Generous leadership. Giving of time. Giving of self. Open. Transparent. Developing. Mentoring. Growing. Encouraging. Building. It works in the home and it works in the congregation.
What a simple way of demonstrating it, you choose. You go first. Leaders are just like that.