Teaching Generosity by Example

Monday, May 9, 2016

Christians can learn from children’s authors and illustrators.

At the end of April, I attended SCBWI’s regional Wild Wild Midwest Conference. SCBWI (Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators) is a secular organization for—as the name states—children’s writers and illustrators.

The conference brought together approximately 500 people from the Midwest and beyond, and on the second day we listened to a report from an affiliated organization called We Need Diverse Books. The presentation covered WNDB’s initiative to break into the hallowed halls of the almost exclusively white New York publishing industry and to encourage and promote minority writers and other outsiders (e.g., LGTB and people with disabilities).

At some point during the presentation, an audience member stood up and suggested that each person at the conference consider donating $5 to WNDB. The conference organizers took that suggestion to heart and provide a box for cash donations. As soon as that opportunity was announced, conference attendees jumped up and streamed by the box with their offerings. When online donations were included, the conference attendees donated almost $4,000 in a little over 24 hours.

I wasn’t surprised. The entire conference was characterized by friendliness and a “we’re all in this together” attitude. The financial generosity was just one more example.

Contrast that with the last time I attended an American Christian Fiction Writers Conference (in 2014). The conference organizers said frequently and proudly that only Christian writers rooted for their competitors to succeed. But they were focused on the financial bottom line at the expense of graciousness and generosity. That conference had also become stale, and I have no desire to attend another one.

What’s more important, the financial bottom line or an open heart? For Christians, the answer should be obvious.

Even if they have to learn it from a secular organization like SCBWI.

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