A Generous Voice.
There’s a phrase that’s been on my mind recently: be a generous voice. Be a generous voice. It’s more than a phrase really, it’s a concept, a state of mind, a calling even. The words came to me a while back but it’s taken me a while to get to grips with it. If this was what God was saying to me, then what did He mean?
(As an aside, if you’re ever unsure whether something you’ve heard from God is really from Him or not, a good indication is how it stands the test of time. If it keeps coming back to you and won’t go away, there’s a good chance it is from God; whereas something human tends to fall to the ground and be forgotten).
Well this phrase kept coming back to me. As I’ve explored it and unpacked it I’ve arrived at a few thoughts and this blog-post is my way of sharing that. In fact, it’s part of me being a generous voice. I might not be speaking, but I’m still communicating.
Being a generous voice means being generous with the things you say. Generosity comes in many forms, not just money. You can be generous with your treasure, your time and your talents. What if your talent, or one of your talents, is communication? Like any gift from God, use that talent generously to bless others. Write and speak in a way that will encourage others and build them up. Being generous with your words doesn’t mean being a motor-mouth, a purveyor of verbal diarrhoea, that person who just never shuts up. The generosity part applies to the quality and the motivation as well as the quantity.
In Gary Chapman’s Five Love Languages the language I feel the strongest affinity with is ‘Words of Affirmation’. That’s what makes me feel most loved, and it’s also how I most naturally show love to others, which is not a coincidence. As I speak positive words to people, showing appreciation for what they do, complimenting something they’ve done, encouraging them in a task or through a difficult phase, I impart courage, I give life. At least I try to. I don’t always succeed.
Proverbs 12:25 says, “Anxiety weighs down the heart, but a kind word cheers it up.”
That’s what I aim for. To encourage is to give courage, to combat anxiety, to restore confidence, to dispel negativity and to overcome fears. That’s what a generous voice does, or should do. It’s what God does for us. He is the ultimate model of this. He exemplifies generosity in all He does, in His amazing gifts to us and in the words He speaks to us.
Just listen to how generous God is in the words He uses towards us:
“I am your shield, your very great reward.” (Genesis 15:1).
“For I know the plans I have for you…plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” (Jeremiah 29:11).
“I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with unfailing kindness.” (Jeremiah 31:3).
“The Lord your god is with you, the Mighty Warrior who saves. He will take great delight in you; in His love He will no longer rebuke you, but will rejoice over you with singing.” (Zephaniah 3:17).
If God speaks this generously to us, then shouldn’t we speak generously to others?
A generous voice speaks up when it would be easier not to. Speaking words of encouragement to others takes effort, so why bother? Not everyone appreciates them, or knows what to do with them once received. But just think of the blessing it brings to that person who does appreciate, and goes away with heart warmed and readier to repeat the good things that drew the encouragement in the first place. If a complement comes to mind, what a waste it would be to leave it unsaid. Why not operate on the principle of, if in doubt, say it? If in doubt, encourage. Encouragement is the antidote to criticism. There’s so much discouragement, anger and blame in the world that we need all the antidote we can get. Just look at the way fury and indignation proliferates on Twitter and other social media platforms. In such a world, shouldn’t we try and foster a bit of goodwill?
You know what else takes effort? Writing blog-posts takes effort. I could spare myself a lot of time and energy by not writing them and doing something else instead. It’s safer that way, as there’s less risk of courting controversy or offending those with different views. I could also sidestep the very 21st-century preoccupation of engagement stats. How many clicks, how many shares, how many people reading? In a way that’s true for social media at large as well, it’s all too easy to put too much store in that kind of stuff. Sure it can be discouraging from time to time, but it’s not my only measure for effectiveness, and it’s certainly not how I evaluate my self-worth. What I’ve learned is that my influence extends far beyond what Facebook and WordPress can tell me. You never know who’s read it and been touched by it. For every ten people or more who ignore a post, there might be one person really touched by it. And that makes it worthwhile. If I can help guide, encourage, uplift, motivate or teach just one person by what I write, then I’ll keep doing it.
I blog because I feel like God has called me to. He’s given me a passion for His Word and an ability to be able to communicate it to others. What I hear from God, I share with others, in case what has helped me can help others too. Why not? When I read something valuable in the Bible, I could just keep it to myself, but I don’t think that’s what God intended. He gives to us so that we can give to others. That’s why He promised to make Abraham and his descendants a blessing to the nations (Genesis 12). That’s why Paul tells the Corinthians that they will be enriched so that they can enrich others (2 Corinthians 9). That’s why Jesus said, ‘freely you have received, now freely give’ (Matthew 10:8). This is a theme that runs right throughout the Bible. It’s a theme that speaks equally to treasure, time and talents as expressions of generosity. What God has given you, share with others. Be generous. Be generous in any way you can, with any means at your disposal. Push those old stifling definitions of generosity to new limits, and do it in spite of the haters and nay-sayers.
That’s what I think it means to be a generous voice. And just writing this makes me want to be a generous voice all the more. I might not live up to that calling all the time, I might bottle it at times or convey myself badly in certain situations, but I’m jolly well going to keep trying. I will keep speaking words of encouragement, and I will keep writing blog-posts. I do so in faith, trusting that God will take my words and use them to bless and to bear fruit.
PS. If you read my blog, thank you. It means a lot. If you read a post you like, please tell me because I need all the feedback I can get, and love to hear how others have benefitted from my efforts. Better still, share it with others. Thank you.