“Expect more, pay less." That’s the company slogan Target advertises to its customers. Unfortunately, it’s also the management philosophy many businesses have toward their employees. Mindful of the bottom line, some companies constantly search for ways to wring more productivity out of workers while simultaneously attempting to reduce the costs of their “human resources.”
It takes the average hourly employee at McDonald’s 30 weeks to make as much money as the restaurant’s CEO earns in an hour. In such a world, former Costco CEO Jim Sinegal stood out as a refreshingly generous leader. Throughout his tenure, Sinegal’s annual salary remained steady at $350,000 per year, roughly one-third of the pay of other Fortune 100 CEOs.
At the same time, Costco paid its employees 42% more than their chief rival. Sinegal was also committed to offering Costco’s workers healthcare costs at a fraction of industry-average costs. Contrary to prevailing trends, Costco remains closed on the Thanksgiving holiday so that its employees can enjoy time with family.
When the United States economy went into recession, Costco did not lay off a single employee. In fact, Sinegal pushed through a $1.50 hourly raise for his people in 2009. According to CFO Richard Galanti, “The first thing out of Jim’s mouth was, ‘This economy is bad. We should be figuring out how to give them more, not less.’”
Sinegal was also passionate about keeping down the prices of Costco products for customers. He limited markup 15% of costs regardless of whether the market would allow Costco to charge more.
Singegal’s generosity to employees hasn’t dragged down the financial performance of Costco—precisely the opposite. When rivals were cutting payrolls and shutting stores after the recession, Costco held steady. Stock prices have more than doubled and sales have risen nearly 40% since 2009.
Craig Jelinek, Singeal’s successor, has carried on his legacy.
Costco understands that generosity is not a negative; rather, it is a great positive! This is a very Christian way of looking at life.
Unfortunately, professing Christians are not generous givers. Statistics show that More than one out of four professing American Protestants give away $0. The median annual giving for a Christian is $200—just over half a percent of after-tax income. About 5 percent of Christians provide 60 percent of the money to churches and religious groups. Twenty percent of Christians account for 86 percent of all giving. Among Protestants, 10 percent of evangelicals, 28 percent of mainline folk, 33 percent of fundamentalists, and 40 percent of liberal Protestants give nothing (Driscoll, A Call to Resurgence).
Additionally, Six out of ten churchgoers believe tithing is a Biblical mandate, but fewer than one out of ten actually give 10% or more of their income to any cause or organization (Facts & Trends, May/June 2006, p.17)
This is not what Jesus called his Church to, and on-the-whole, Christians are still one of the most generous and socially active groups in the world. However, there is a serious problem here.
Text to read: Acts 11:27-30 NLT
In response to this prophetic word, the church of Antioch gave cheerfully and sacrificially. No one was compelled--they did not have to be--they just gave as much as they could.
Generosity is a sign of obedience and spiritual maturity.
Paul notes in 2 Corinthians 9:13 NLT, "For your generosity to them and to all believers will prove that you are obedient to the Good News of Christ."
When you allow yourself to truly obey God and be transformed by his Holy Spirit, you will have such a deep care for others' wellbeing (especially others in the Body of Christ) and will become so much more sensitive to the Holy Spirit's leading, you will not be able to help but become more and more generous!
Generosity requires that you trust in God's provision.
2 Corinthians 9:10-11 NLT
God has given you all that you have. He provided his Son, Jesus, for you so you can receive life and forgiveness, he provides you with a job, with resources, and with food to eat. Generosity shows spiritual maturity, because to give sacrificially requires that you trust in God's willingness and ability to provide for your needs.
Jesus-people are giving-people.
We give in response to what Jesus did for us: he humbled himself by coming to live among us as one of us, he resisted temptation for us, he was beaten and bloodied for us, he was crucified until dead for us, and he rose again three days later for us. Jesus now mediates on our behalf before our Heavenly Father: why? For us. Jesus has given us everything!
Jesus tells us that we must pick up our cross and follow him. He was exceedingly generous, and those who follow him must be exceedingly generous as well.
As a church, we're called to touch our community with Christ's love with the hope that they will turn and follow him. But how can we do that if we’re not even caring for each other?
Our focus should not be on what others are or are not doing for us, but should be about how we can show love toward others. When we all begin doing that, we will all begin to care for each other!
- Ask the Holy Spirit to show you a need of a Jesus-following person or ministry and give obediently and generously to meet it.
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