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Generosity Makes the World Go 'Round

I once had a crazy experience at Barnes and Noble in Muskegon. (by the way, I love this Barnes and Noble; and I love their cafe because they’ll still serve Sumatra unlike that “other” coffee place with the green circle logo!) About 30 minutes before closing time; Marianne, Liam, and I stopped by to grab coffee and read for a bit while we waited for Emma to finish up her Senior High Bible Study thing (SNL).

I ordered a grande black coffee (I’m of the mindset that if you need cream or sugar in your coffee, then you don’t really like coffee). The young barista asked if house blend was okay, and being the gracious fellow I am, I said, “sure.”

Unfortunately, there wasn’t enough coffee left. He couldn’t quite fill my grande (medium) cup. So he showed me the cup and asked, “Is this okay, or would you rather just have a tall (small)?”

I said, “Whatever, tall is fine.”

Then he proceeded to pour my coffee out of the grande cup into a tall cup. When he was done, there was about 1/8 inch of coffee left in the grande cup. He gave me my tall coffee and threw away the coffee he didn’t use. All the while, he and his partner were patting themselves on the back for not having to brew a new pot, because they were sure their manager would NOT have been happy if they had brewed a new pot right before closing time.

Now here’s the funny thing. I know their manager. She knows me. Everytime I walk in, she asks if I’d like her to brew some Sumatra. (sometimes I say yes, sometimes I don’t) She is a great manager, and one of the reasons I frequent her cafe is because she is GENEROUS with customers.

Pouring a few ounces of coffee down the drain because the customer is only paying for a “tall” is NOT GENEROUS. In fact, it’s just bad business. See, it only costs 10 cents to upgrade from tall to grande, so that 10 cents was lost when I chose to pay for a tall. But then the loss was compounded by pouring the coffee into a new cup. Now one cup had been wasted, and more importantly a customer was treated poorly.

I won’t stop going to Barnes and Noble. I know that this was the exception, not the rule. I know that most of the baristas would have simply given me the coffee and charged me for the tall. In fact, some of them might have just given me the coffee for free since it was the bottom of the last pot (I frequently get such gifts from my friends at the “other place”). In those cases, being GENEROUS is actually GOOD BUSINESS.

Sometimes, we aren’t GENEROUS because we are afraid of the cost. We don’t see our GENEROSITY as an investment in the future.


Here’s the thing, though. We live in a world that works best when GENEROSITY is the engine driving things:

  • God’s creation was GENEROUS. Instead of just creating a functional, mechanical world; He gave us an amazingly creative, colorful, complex yet simple world. The variety and beauty of creation is a constant reminder of God’s GENEROSITY.
  • The most beloved characters in the history of the world are those who were viewed as GENEROUS by their contemporaries.
  • The hero of every story is the one who GIVES AWAY for the good of others.
  • The best meal is one that is prepared by a GENEROUS chef (have you ever eaten at a “fancy” restaurant that provides great food, but you only get two bites?)
  • The single greatest act of all time was the GENEROUS gift of life, given to us by God through His Son, Jesus. 

GENEROSITY makes the world go ‘round. Selfishness and hoarding bring things to a screeching halt. What you are willing to give away today may go a long way toward enabling someone else to continue into tomorrow! GIVE GENEROUSLY!

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