Giving: A Privilege And a Joy

In the fall of 1965 I changed schools and started my eighth grade year at David Lipscomb High School in Nashville, TN.  Every fall, Lipscomb’s entire student body gathered in the old McQuiddy Gymnasium to commemorate the school’s founding.  That was the first time I saw the late A.M. Burton (who, by the way, was Amy Grant’s great-grandfather).  Sometime later that year I actually got to meet Mr. Burton and shake his hand.  I am thankful I had that opportunity because he died a year later at the age of 87.

Stories about Mr. Burton are legendary.  He rose from humble beginnings to become one of the most financially successful men in the nation.  He started the Life and Casualty Insurance Company, based in Nashville, in 1903.  If you are familiar with the Nashville skyline, one of its most recognizable buildings is the 31-story L&C Tower, briefly one of the tallest buildings in the Southeast.

He was best known for his generosity as a philanthropist.  In an article on the front page of The Gospel Advocate shortly after his death, these words, written by then Lipscomb President Athens Clay Pullias, appear:

“No one will ever know the total amount of money which he gave away.  He gave David Lipscomb College more than any other Tennessean has ever given to anything.  To him, giving was a privilege and a joy. . . . It has been estimated that if he had kept all the wealth which came into his hands, he would have died one of the nation's wealthiest men. . . . Instead, he gave it all away and became richer still.”

It is said that A.M. Burton almost single-handedly kept David Lipscomb College financially afloat during the Depression.  He had a deep compassion for the poor, the aged, the orphaned, and the sick, and he used his vast resources to bless many thousands of people who desperately needed his help.  What a legacy to leave behind.

The phrase in The Gospel Advocate article that most stands out is this one:  “Giving was a privilege and a joy.” Mr. Burton truly believed that it is more blessed to give than to receive.

There are people within your sphere of influence who have the same kind of heart as A.M. Burton.  Some have sizable resources.  Others are like the poor widow whom Jesus praised for giving so much, even though the monetary value of her gift was extremely small.  It is not the amount of money which any individual gives that is ultimately important—it is the attitude that says, “Giving is a privilege and a joy.” 

Provide them with a meaningful reason to give and challenge them to help meet the need.  Encourage them and thank them.  Then watch them give with joy.