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A Generous Heart

Instruct them to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous, willing to share  1 Tim 6:18

A generous person will be blessed, for he shares his food with the poor.  Prov 22:9

Definition of Generosity

When I think of generosity I think of a person who is generous with their money.  But in actuality it means so much more than this.  According to my dictionary it means: being unselfish, giving liberally, or free from meanness or smallness of mind or character or giving in a large, abundant or ample measure.

So it means that a person is generous with their monies towards others.  They are willing to share their finances with others who need such support.  But I also think that being generous includes other actions besides, dealing with finances.  I believe it has to do with our overall attitude.  Our attitude in how we use our time, work with other people, mentor them for instance, or have patience with others.

I can think of many, many people who have been generous with their time and/or their monies.  Having worked in medicine for as many years as I have, I tend to also read a lot of biographies of medical professionals.  I can think of two physicians who were generous with either their time and/or their finances.

C. Everett Koop, MD

C. Everett Koop, MD at CHOP (Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia)

C. Everett Koop, MD was a pediatric surgeon who practiced at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP). He eventually became the U.S. Surgeon General during President Ronald Reagan’s administration. He spearheaded the national campaign for HIV/AIDS.  He  was an outspoken advocate about the effects of cigarette smoking on the public’s health.  Both of these issues kept his feet to the fire and garnished him the constant ire of the general public as well as the tobacco industry.

During his early days working as a pediatric surgeon in Philadelphia, he would spent his 8-12 hours every Sunday at a homeless shelter seeing patients needing his care.  This work was on top of his working full-time as a pediatric surgeon at CHOP.   He was dedicated to serving not just the families with insurance but those without insurance so as to make sure all children were taken care of with equal compassion.

David Hilfiker, MD

David Hilfiker, MD at his Washington, DC clinic for the homeless

Another physician was Dr. David Hilfiker, who  is a family physician and worked in Minnesota after graduating from the University of Minnesota’s medical school.  He begun working in a rural community in Minnesota, but after several years found himself at odds with a patient’s medical care.  This made him begin to question what he was doing.  Over the next several years he questioned what and why he was practicing medicine.

Eventually his questions led him to move to Washington, D.C., with his family, where he set up a medical clinic for the homeless.  The model he used was a patient centered medical home, in which he used the available team members to their fullest extent of their licenses in their treating the homeless.  This became his life’s work.  In order to do this work he took a major cut in his annual salary, for years on end.

His example of a patient centered medical home became the role model upon which the government established a medical program which we use today in multiple medical clinics across the nation.

A Personal Example

You can also have an impact on others around you.  While at work one day I found out that the department secretary’s brother had been involved in a motor vehicle accident and was hospitalized in New York City.  She didn’t have the money to fly to NYC to see her only sibling.  I decided to give her a check for one thousand dollars which covered her airline fare as well as transportation and some lodging expenses.  She was overwhelmed with my generosity.  I ended up making an impact that day because I listened to God and His promptings.   Hopefully, this ended up being a seed planted for what Christian love is all about which will root and sprout in her life down the line.

So when you think of being generous to others what recent experience comes to your mind?

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