Today, I want to introduce you to my first employee before we even launched Generosity by Lifeway, Alissa Oma. She is the leading list maker on our team and we all love her for her gift! She keeps us organized. Alissa is one of the kindest, sweetest people you would ever want to meet. She is our “Culture Queen,” a former hand model, and has served at Lifeway for more than a decade. At a recent staff meeting, she shared a story that celebrated a few values we hold high on being sensitive, alert, and ready as generous people. Enjoy her story!
When Giving Is Easy
by Alissa Oma, Administrative Assistant
Morning dawned over the quaint little historic town of Franklin, TN. It was a beautiful, sunny Saturday which meant the Main Street boutiques and stores would be bustling with shoppers. Local cycling groups would be stopping to enjoy a hard-earned breakfast after their morning, countryside ride. Local farmers, bakers, and artists would be setting up shop at the popular farmer’s market just down the road at The Factory at Franklin. It was a perfect day to be in town. Merridee’s Breadbasket is a favorite spot for many; a charming bakery and restaurant offering many traditional southern dishes and made-fresh-daily breads and pastries right in the heart of downtown. It was mid-morning when I walked in to purchase a late breakfast. After perusing the chalkboard menu above the register, I narrowed down my order from a variety of delightful options to one single item. Let’s be honest, I wanted everything on the menu! But my reasonable self said, “A penny saved is a penny earned.” So I chose one of the least expensive options. Growing up, my dad always instilled in me the importance of living frugally and saving money. I am very grateful for his financial guidance as it has kept me from falling into the many financial traps that so many young adults face in modern America. After deciding to let restraint win over self-indulgence, I stepped up to place my order. The girl at the counter entered my order into the register as usual, but what happened next completely caught me off guard. She looked down at a notepad on the counter, jotted something down with her pencil, looked up at me and said: “Okay it looks like your meal is covered, so you don’t have to pay anything.” What just happened? I was happily confused. I replied, “What do you mean?” She said, “Someone earlier this morning decided to ‘pay it forward’ and people kept adding to it throughout the morning.” At that moment, I was amazed at the generosity of that anonymous person. I was filled with gratitude. I was humbled. I desired to follow suit and contribute a portion as well.
I’m sure the girl at the register enjoyed telling the news and watching the facial expressions of each new customer as they heard the same good news I received. Think about the residual impact of that first gift. Multiple people saw an example of generosity and were inspired to act generously in that very moment. The girl at the register had a good day watching one generous exchange after another. And who knows how many people were motivated to do that very same thing a week or two later. Who knew giving could be so contagious? I wonder if that first generous person sat down at a nearby table and enjoyed watching all the responses as people came through the line. Or maybe they just went about their day joyfully trusting that their gift would multiply to bless others. Either way, I imagine the person whose heart was overflowing with generosity that Saturday morning had no idea just how far their impact would go. Regardless of the amount given, in a single act of generosity, there is an immeasurable ripple effect, and only God can see the extent of its reach. And you can be sure that God notices even the smallest gift given, for He is the ultimate source of all giving.
“Instruct those who are rich in the present age not to be arrogant or to set their hope on the uncertainty of wealth, but on God, who richly provides us with all things to enjoy. Instruct them to do what is good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and willing to share, storing up treasure for themselves as a good foundation for the coming age, so that they may take hold of what is truly life.” 1 Timothy 6:17-19 (CSB)
“One person gives freely, yet gains more; another withholds what is right, only to become poor. A generous person will be enriched, and the one who gives a drink of water will receive water.” Proverbs 11:24-25 (CSB)
Go unleash giving today!