Practice Makes Perfect

Practice makes perfect. This cliché applies to so many parts of our lives. Changing a diaper, preparing a financial report, hitting a baseball, cooking an omelet, playing the piano. We become proficient and skilled in certain tasks, not necessarily because we have talent, but because we work at it.

I have always enjoyed speaking in public. Reciting a poem in the school assembly in the eighth grade was a fun challenge, as was preaching my first sermon as a teenager. But when did I really learn how to preach? The answer—the first year I served as a preaching minister. I went from speaking 25 times a year to 100 times. It was Monday morning, and two new sermons for next Sunday were staring me in the face. It was sink or swim time.

Prepare and deliver 100 new sermons in a year, and you have to get better. Or you move into another line of work. Ha!

I had not thought of this practice applying to generosity, but that is exactly what Christian Smith and Hilary Davidson propose in their new book, The Paradox of Generosity.

“One of the best ways of starting to become a truly generous person, if one really wants to, is simply to first start behaving like a generous person. Like many things in life, we usually learn best by doing; we perfect activities and attitudes by practicing them.”

Behaving like a generous person. What does that look like?

·      Giving money to the guy selling newspapers on the corner

·      Talking about practicing generosity in front of my children

·      Committing to give away all “surprise” money I receive this year

·      Volunteering at a soup kitchen and taking a friend with me

·      Buying lemonade from the kids down the street

·      Making anonymous gifts

·      Setting up an automatic payment to a favorite charity

·      Offering child-care to a young mother

·      Changing my default answer to yes, instead of no

We want to be generous, open-handed people—people who make a difference in the lives of others.

So, work at it. Practice makes perfect.