How to Be a Generous Presence

It’s easy to be somewhere without really being there.

The body is present but the mind and spirit are far away. Thinking about pressures that are carried over from work. Worrying about things that have yet to be done. Pushing through what has to be done in order to get some peace and quiet in bed, if the mind will slow down enough to rest.

As a parent, my children know well whether I’m present or not. Yet even when I am fully there with them, I don’t always take hold of the opportunity to give them a gift – an encouraging word, listening ear, playing a game or watching a performance. I still have the tendency to want to put those moments off until a more “appropriate” time.

Yes, there are times that are more appropriate than others, but I also find my use of this principle to be a reaction rather than a thoughtful response. If I were to actually think through it, why can’t I sit down and play a couple hands of Uno? What will it mean to them for me to stop and watch their impromptu performance of a favorite song? Could these be opportunities to give my children a gift – to generously pass out goodness to them just like God has done for me?

It goes on to being present with a spouse, child, friend, group, or community. If God has been good to me (and He definitely has), then I should reflect His goodness in the way I interact with others. God did not withhold good from me; I should not withhold good from others.

Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due, when it is in your power to act. (Proverbs 3:27, NIV)

Every moment is an opportunity to reflect God’s goodness to those around you. {tweet this}

If this is true, then we need to begin considering how we can be a gift to others by being a generous presence. Perhaps the following could be a start—

  • Work well. Don’t ignore the busyness that is there each day. Work hard at a reasonable number of tasks each day and end on something you can complete. This will give you an opportunity to praise God for the word completed and transition from being present at work and being present with loved ones.
  • Decompress. Do this for 30 minutes as you come home from work or prepare to receive a spouse returning home. Use the commute or stop what you’re doing to pray for God’s power to make you a generous presence when you come together.
  • Plan time to do nothing. Create margin in your life by intentionally scheduling nothing on a particular day and for certain times each day. Knowing this time is coming gives you an opportunity to prepare to be generously available to your children, friends and neighbors.
  • Be personal. As you practice being truly present where you are, observe the things that breathe life into your spouse, children and friends. Being a generous presence is not just about being there, but about being there in a way that communicates love and goodness to those you are with.

It’s not easy, and we may not always do it well. But we need to remember that we have the power to act in a generous way. May we not withhold goodness from those God has entrusted to our presence.

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