Game On: Living Generously Part Two

07.26.2018 | by Patrick Voelker, Executive Administrator

A couple of weeks ago I shared a blog of inspiring and true stories about Jesus followers who lived generously in the name of Jesus.

Now, I have a few more of those stories that I hope will motivate you to get your Game On! 

Profit With a Purpose

Alan Barnhart is an American businessman who owns and runs a business valued at $250 million. When he was at university he poured over the teaching of Jesus and was struck by Jesus’ call to generosity and his warnings about wealth. He was determined that when he went into business he would not allow any financial success he might enjoy to become a source of spiritual failure.

When he and his brother took over their small family business, Barnhart Crane and Rigging, they set incomes for themselves that would enable them to support their families in a modest middle-class lifestyle and agreed that anything the company made beyond that would be given to ministry, particularly ministries in the developing world.

Every Penny Counts

In their first year they were able to give away $50 thousand; in the second year $150 thousand; and by 2005 they were giving away one million dollars a month. They also placed 99 percent ownership of the company into a trust that will ensure that when they have departed, all proceeds from the firm will continue to be invested in to ministry.

According to Alan, he doesn’t regret the decision to limit his income. In fact, Alan says that giving is fun! He, his wife and his children have been able to visit the projects they support and see the impact they’re making in people’s lives all around the world.

Inspired by the teaching of Jesus on wealth, Alan Barnhart took a simple decision that revolutionized his life and enabled him to practice generosity.

Source: Barnhart, Alan. “Profit With a Purpose.” The Generous Business: A Guide for Incorporating Giving at Work, National Christian Foundation, 2016, pp. 23–25.

LeTourneau’s Legacy

If you’ve ever been part of a church fundraising campaign, you’ve likely heard the name R.G. LeTourneau. His story of giving is the stuff capital-campaigns are made of. However, the story of why he and his wife Evelyn chose to give away 90 percent of their wealth – and the life-changing decision that prompted it – is rarely told.

LeTourneau was one of the more unlikely leaders of 20th century industry. From humble beginnings and a seventh grade education, he taught himself engineering and eventually built a manufacturing empire. His earth-moving machines helped win World War II and construct the highway infrastructure of modern America. By the end of his life he held more than 300 patents. He had also become one of the leading spokespersons in the lay-led faith and work movement.

Becoming God’s Business Partner

The decision to give away 90 percent of his personal income and stock in the company was the result of a previous decision – made when he was only 30 years old and deeply in debt – a decision to make God his business partner. Chastised by his missionary sister to get serious about serving God, LeTourneau was confused. Like most people, he believed sincere dedication to God required he become a preacher, an evangelist, or a missionary. He attended a revival meeting at church and gave in. Thinking he was headed to the mission field, he sought guidance from his pastor. After praying together, his pastor said, “You know Brother LeTourneau, God needs businessmen as well as preachers and missionaries.” LeTourneau responded, “Alright, if that’s what God wants me to be, I’ll try to be His businessman.”

A Debtor to God

LeTourneau took his business partnership with God seriously. When financial success came years later, he believed this made him a debtor to God. His commitment to give away so much of his wealth was not a flash of generosity as much as a logical progression from his earlier decision to make God his business partner.

First we need to understand that our work matters to God. Then we need to recognize that He is our business partner. Once we do that, Letourneau’s perspective is a natural response.

“The question is not how much of my money I give to God, but rather how much of God’s money I keep for myself.”

What would it mean if you recognized that God is your business partner? How do you view money? Is it a measurement of your worth or a tool for serving God and others?

Source: R.G. LeTourneau’s Legacy, LeTourneau University’s Center For Faith and Work

We hope you found these stories inspiring. Use these stories to take action today, get your game on and begin writing your story! We look forward to seeing you Sunday when we tackle another sermon from our latest series, Game On: Get Off the Bench and Into Action!