What color is generosity?
We just completed our 9th Annual Passion Awards. The Passion Awards is like the Academy Awards of ministry where we award grants to ministry but also make a few individual awards as well.
As our staff gathered after the awards, we reflected upon the best part of the evening. Everyone agreed that it was the individual award that we made for the Servant Leader of the Year. That award went to Jim Browne of Jim Browne Productions. Let me explain.
Jim came to us seven years ago. I’m not sure what connection brought him to us. However, we needed a production crew for the Passion Awards, and that was Jim’s business. I never really spent a lot of time with Jim that first year. I didn’t know if the event for him was just another job. I’m sure he thought we were a little weird. After all, who gives away money and doesn’t ask for anything at an event?
But I guess Jim was hooked because he came back and helped us the next year, and the year after and the year after. He told us proudly that we were his favorite client.
It certainly wasn’t because of the money we paid him. He charged us a fraction of what it should really cost. But the event came to mean more to him than a job. It was a calling.
In fact, he would call us to get us going to start planning next year’s event. He shared our dream that we could show the Christian community how to celebrate with excellence. So he went all out: top notch videos, top notch sound, top notch everything! People would come to our event and just say, “Wow!” We had others say that they “just had no idea of how big God was.” And of course, some tell us that our event is the only one they’ll attend.
But earlier this year Jim started feeling poorly. The diagnosis? Cancer, and of all things it was cancer of the appendix, which had been removed seven years earlier. (Oddly, they went back to the hospital that did the surgery and they still had the appendix and tests confirmed that the cancer had been present at the time of the appendix surgery.)
Jim’s fought the battle valiantly with cancer, and in the same way that he’s served at the Passion Awards—with excellence. So at our 2010 event, it was an easy decision to give the Servant Leader Award to Jim.
The Servant Leader Award is always a secret. So how do you keep the award secret from your production guy? You just don’t put it in the script. At the time of the award, I was up on stage setting up the awards describing Jim without giving his name. And there was Jim back in the production booth frantically flipping through his notes—“what in the world was Bill doing? None of this was in the script! We’ve got to get a slide he told his production team!”
But the production team told him, “Jim, the award is for you!”
“No, it couldn’t be, “ he said, and went back to searching the script notes. The production team had to drag him out of the booth to the stage to receive the award.
There were tears in his eyes, and his wife’s eyes as they headed to the stage. A strange twist: the production guy—the behind the scenes guy—was now front and center stage. The servant being served.
It seems to me that Jesus spoke of this idea. It goes something like this: the more we try to hold on to the things of this world, the more we lose. The more we try to possess, the more we seem to let a little more of life’s energy ooze out of us. But the more that we give away, the more that we try to show the excellence of Christ—even in quiet behind the scenes kind of way—the more that we receive the joy and the goodness of the Father.
Thanks, Jim, for showing us that the color of generosity is Browne.
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Published November 4, 2010