How to Be a Generous Family in a Selfish World

How to Be a Generous Family in a Selfish World

Tithely media icon
Modern Church leader
Publish date
February 20, 2019

This week on TV, Dean is joined by Brad and Drew Formsma, authors of Everyday Generosity: Becoming a Generous Family in a Selfish World. Brad is the founder and president of I Like Giving, a movement that has inspired more than 100 million to live generously. Drew is an upcoming voice calling leading his generation to live generously as a key to a better life.


Here’s a list of resources mentioned during the show:


This week on TV, Dean is joined by Brad and Drew Formsma, authors of Everyday Generosity: Becoming a Generous Family in a Selfish World. Brad is the founder and president of I Like Giving, a movement that has inspired more than 100 million to live generously. Drew is an upcoming voice calling leading his generation to live generously as a key to a better life.


Here’s a list of resources mentioned during the show:

podcast transcript

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This week on TV, Dean is joined by Brad and Drew Formsma, authors of Everyday Generosity: Becoming a Generous Family in a Selfish World. Brad is the founder and president of I Like Giving, a movement that has inspired more than 100 million to live generously. Drew is an upcoming voice calling leading his generation to live generously as a key to a better life.


Here’s a list of resources mentioned during the show:

VIDEO transcript

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Dean Sweetman:  Okay, Dean Sweetman here from Tithely. Doing the TV podcast today without Frank. He's doing something with his kids. I think he's skiing so the snow is dumping down here in California. Hope you guys have a good week. It's great to have you all. We've got a great show today. We've got this father and son duo that have written this book all about generosity and family generosity. I can't wait to get into it. I want to welcome Brad and Drew today. Welcome guys.

Brad Formsma:  Good to be here.

Drew Formsma:  Yeah, this is gonna be great.

Dean Sweetman:  This is great. We've got Drew, the true Millennial, is in the car with the headset on and dad is home I believe in Orange County, correct?

Drew Formsma:  That's right.

Dean Sweetman:  Awesome, man. So let's get straight into it. You guys wrote a book together, which is pretty cool, called "Everyday Generosity," and from what I understand, maybe Drew take this first, is what on earth inspired you to get writing a book? You look like you're a teenager to me.

Drew Formsma:  That's right. I am a teenager. It really all started for about a year and a half my dad and I have been speaking around the country at different conferences and churches and different types of events, and actually I had parents and grandparents come up to me after these events and they would say, "Hey, you gotta write something from your perspective. We want to hear something from your generation and something that's centered towards families." I took that to heart and I actually had a dream one night. I never get dreams, but I roll over in bed and I felt like God was giving me this impression that I was supposed to inspire families to start bringing this into their legacy and bringing it into their culture and I told my parents. I'm like, "What do I do with this? I don't know." They're like, "Okay, let's see if we can get something to confirm it or something from God to make this reality." I got in this Uber car one day and I ... in California, the traffic is terrible, so [crosstalk 00:02:31].

Drew Formsma:  Yeah, on the way after school I had to take an Uber one day so I got in the car with this nice lady and she says, "Hey, is your dad Brad Formsma?" I was like, "I hope so." She's like, "Oh no, no, no. I heard him speak at a church I was recently at. He's changed my perspective on giving." So she starts telling giving stories, I'm telling giving stories and before I got out of the car that day, she said, "I don't know why I'm supposed to tell you this, but you're supposed to write a book. My kids, I can't get them to give," but if there was something centered towards families, a way that would really bring the whole family in this culture idea that we can live generously, it doesn't matter our age or financial statements or anything. We really uncovered seven ways to a generous life in this book, "Everyday Generosity." That's how it came together.

Drew Formsma:  It's written through my words and my dad's thoughts and decades of experience are just kind of woven through my words, which make it a fun read and really a practical take away for anyone of any age.

Dean Sweetman:  Love it, love it. Brad, you're a dad, I'm a dad. What was it like when your son comes up to you and says, "Dad, I'm inspired to do something in the realm of generosity." Did that kind of take you by surprise?

Brad Formsma:  Well, there's a little back story that he conveniently left out. Two years ago on the way to the first church that he would end up speaking in, we stopped and got that morning early donut before going to the main service of the church.

Dean Sweetman:  Love it.

Brad Formsma:  We're enjoying the donut in the car. I said, "Hey, would you ever be open to share a thought from your perspective from the platform on what it's like to be around this generosity conversation?" He says, "I've been waiting for you to ask me. Yeah, I am." I went from excitement to a little nervous but the funny thing is, the pastor, I wanted to get his permission. He said, "Brad, you're asking me if you can have your son come up and talk about generosity." He said, "You have to understand. I'm letting you come in because I completely trust you. You're coming in and talking about the most sensitive subject around churches. If you feel led to do that, do it." So we did and Drew shared a story. We love to say when we tie scriptures and stories together, it's amazing how this works in the world of generosity.

Brad Formsma:  He told that story and from then on it's just been kind of he's been traveling with me as regularly as he can with our school schedule that he's got to navigate, which is why he's not in the office with me, he's on the go.

Dean Sweetman:  I've got to ask, Drew, what was the story that you told the first time you got up and shared with the church about generosity?

Drew Formsma:  Of course. It actually happened earlier that week before I spoke at that church. We were headed in to Bed, Bath, and Beyond because my grandparents, that are amazing people, we love them, their pillows are not the best. So we were having a tough time sleeping, we had to get some new pillows. We head in there and this really nice lady showed us the best pillow and she showed us the section, was really helpful and she said, "When I get my paycheck I'm gonna buy this for myself because I've had some neck problems."

Drew Formsma:  So on the way out, my dad ... I was carrying two pillows, one for each of us and then he's like, "Hey, go grab another one." I knew exactly that this was a perfect opportunity-

Dean Sweetman:  I love it.

Drew Formsma:  For this giving experience and we head up there so the first one, clink, goes across, the second one, clink, she's like, "I thought you only needed two pillows," and we're like, "Oh, no, no. That one's for you." Right there in that moment, the whole ... you could just tell, her whole face, her whole day just changed. For $30, I would do that every time.

Dean Sweetman:  Yep.

Drew Formsma:  Then the amazing part is that after I shared that story on stage, there was a man in the back of the church who stood up, "I'm the manager in that store."

Dean Sweetman:  No way.

Drew Formsma:  "That has changed our culture. We've had some negative work employees working together and it's really been a hard atmosphere and this has really kind of shaken us because we started to realize that we were being really self focused but we need to be more generous in the workplace and with our words." We also found that in over 30 years this lady has not had anything like this for her. So she was just shocked, blown away, and it was such a fun experience and I was freaked out. My first giving story I'm telling on stage I got a guy yelling at me.

Dean Sweetman:  So good. I mean, you drop and seed. I live in LA and we have a pretty decent homeless problem and I got out of the supermarket and I just, kind of similar, I felt sometimes I'm behind a homeless person and they're buying a few little snacks or whatever and I felt the Holy Spirit about six months ago just to start paying for them when I see them. I'm like, "Hey, I'll take care of this." It's amazing, about 50% turn around and go, "What the heck are you doing?" They can't even ... the very act of generosity is so startling to people in a very selfish world and dropping that kind of seed, I mean, Brad, it sounds like obviously you're a generous guy, you've taught him generosity. Talk a little bit about how the legacy to your son now and maybe some people listening, it's like, "Man, I want to start this whole generosity kind of spirit in my family." What would you say some of the keys were helping Drew kind of catch that spirit?

Brad Formsma:  Sure. Well, Drew, thanks for sharing that Bed, Bath, and Beyond story. I was back in it again. I'll never forget that.

Drew Formsma:  So great.

Brad Formsma:  In an era where church security and things, you're a little bit nervous. A guy is standing up in the back yelling and your name, you're like, "Uh-oh."

Drew Formsma:  What's happening?

Brad Formsma:  Yeah, what's gonna happen? Really, I would go back to when I was 11 years old, and I always tell parents we miss all the time on this. The idea is if you aim at nothing, you'll hit every time, but we've aimed and make that pre-decision if you will, to want to live generously. If you do it in the seven areas that we talk about, being generous in our thoughts toward others, being generous with our money and our words and the way we share our stuff and our time and our influence and our attention, you start to realize that it can come into your life daily, weekly, monthly. For me, I'm 11 years old and my grandpa was modeling this for me. He modeled those seven areas and they stuck.

Brad Formsma:  You mentioned the word seed earlier, I love that language because from age 18 to 28, I was wandering around trying to make it all happen on my own, build a small business in Grand Rapids, Michigan where I lived at the time, and yet, when I really connected with Jesus at 28, when my first son was born, those seeds that grandpa had modeled and planted if you will were still there. That truth of Jesus, that it's more blessed to give than receive, it's so powerful. We often encourage parents when we're at different churches and places, we're like, "Look. This isn't overnight. It's not once and done and you just never know when it's gonna take root and really begin to blossom, but they're so worth planting in the lives of our kids."

Brad Formsma:  We see research all the time come back for us, when you ask, where did this start for you random people and they would say, "Well, I remember my grandma or I remember my mom did this and that was really the beginning point for me where I started realizing it wasn't just all about me."

Dean Sweetman:  Right. That is so power ... generosity. I'm the first Christian in my family and my parents have since come to the Lord and the whole idea of creating a generosity legacy in your family, one of my sons is a pastor now. I actually go to his church here in LA. My other son works in our company, he's our CTO. Having ... just watching your kids, Brad, is as a dad living that generous life, it's just epic.

Brad Formsma:  Totally. Totally. The funny thing is, Drew and I co-authored this book recently and yet we would all agree in our family the most generous person is our 12-year-old daughter, sister.

Dean Sweetman:  That's awesome. So it's right through the family.

Brad Formsma:  Yeah. We've seen her give all of her money away a few times. We actually joked to her like, "Gracie, when are you just gonna go take this thing over and we'll start working for you?"

Dean Sweetman:  Yeah, there you go. I love it. So Drew, obviously there's some keys in the book, the seven things that you guys talk about. Maybe highlight one or two that for you have been ... you've modeled from your dad obviously, your grandparents it sounds like it, but a couple of these key things that you talk about in the book, how have they really impacted you and give us some practical out workings on some of these keys.

Drew Formsma:  Yes. I think the two that I would highlight today would be, two of the seven, would be I would say the words, being generous with our words and then money as well. Words, it's such a powerful thing. Whenever someone compliments me or acknowledges me for what I do it feels good. It feels like someone sees what I'm doing and recognizes what I'm doing and sees the power behind it. I think there's people ... I call them every day people. I think we have people in our lives who we come into contact with from the dry cleaners to the people in the restaurants to the people on the road. I think we have opportunities to use kind words and lift people up and it's such a thankless job. A couple words doesn't take more than 10 seconds.

Dean Sweetman:  It's free, right.

Drew Formsma:  I know. It's nothing. But it can be so easy to walk right past because it becomes such a busy and society has become so busy and so self focused and I catch myself doing this sometimes. I'm just in my mode and I'm just in whatever I'm doing and everybody else around me I just kind of cloud past. It's important to recognize these people and look out for them. Dad, you got a great story on this. Why don't you share that, with being generous with your words in the airport?

Brad Formsma:  Well, you know what it's like traveling. Good luck finding a clean airport bathroom. When you find-

Dean Sweetman:  Tell me about it.

Brad Formsma:  It's a bonus. But you're from LA and that new LAX Southwest hub is beautiful. We're kind of liking that, but I was in south Florida and I walked out of the bathroom and I got this nudge, just thank the man who was in there for cleaning. I'm like, "Oh, I don't know. That's kind of weird." I really felt like the Holy Spirit said, "I just gave you a layup. Get back in there."

Dean Sweetman:  Right, I love it.

Brad Formsma:  He's gentle about it. He's like, "I'm just trying to get you joy. Do you want it or not?" So anyway, I go up to this guy and I said, "Sir, I just want to thank you. This airport bathroom, it's so clean and it's a bonus to me." He reaches out his hand and he buries his hand in mine and [crosstalk 00:14:52] I'm Conrad and I noticed the patch on his shirt. It was there but there was no name on it. It was blank. I said, "Conrad. If you worked for me, your name would be on your shirt. You matter. I think you're a good man." I just saw a tear well up in the corner of his eye. This smile broke across his face and then across mine and I floated away from him and caught up with my wife at a coffee shop and she's like, "What's going on? You're glowing." I said, "Well, I just went to the bathroom. I just met Conrad." "Who's Conrad?" I'm like, "Hey, look. Remember that idea that Jesus had, it's more blessed to give than receive? I thought I was giving so much to this man and I received so much more."

Brad Formsma:  The rest of the day, that whole outlook optic on life, it was different. I even put on the back of my business card giving changes everything. I think this is the fastest way for us to flip off of us and onto somebody else. The travel one's very interesting because I think we find convenient times in our life, at least I have, where I'm permitted to be a little snarky and just a little bit my human broken person. Travel tends to set [crosstalk 00:16:22]

Dean Sweetman:  Oh my gosh.

Brad Formsma:  For that.

Dean Sweetman:  I'm getting convicted right now. I'm the worst traveler in history.

Brad Formsma:  Zero conviction, zero pressure or condemnation on anybody. It was just what I've even noticed with the TSA people in saying, "Hey, thank you for your service," it's like there's something's happened either in my heart, I get less pat downs, I'm frisked less, but I just had to flip that. You know what? I think it's a better way to live. I want to be more in that posture and I think when we're generous in that area of words these other areas become more top of mind. We always pull out an antenna when we're speaking and get antenna working.

Drew Formsma:  Yeah. The last ... let me go back to the money. That was the words.

Dean Sweetman:  Yeah, I was gonna ask you about that. That's a big deal.

Drew Formsma:  It is. It's a huge deal. I wondered that for myself. How do I get involved at my age? How do I start to be generous financially at a teenage level? I asked my parents what do I do with this? How do I start? They told me, my dad told me and my mom told me, if I start giving today, if I start giving a certain percentage to the church and also to different non-profits that I like. There's a wheelchair mission that I sponsor and then IllumiNations with IllumiNations doing bible translation, so those are two that I am involved in, but I started to realize that if I start to be generous right now, the habit will continue when I'm 30, 40, 50, 60. The decision's already made so that's the important part. I would challenge parents and grandparents to start modeling this because if we can start doing it now, we'll continue doing it later.

Dean Sweetman:  What you're saying is if you start with a little and as a teenager, maybe you're getting an allowance, maybe you've got a part time job going, but if you start living the generosity thing when it's about small amounts, in your perspective it's just a natural thing for that to grow into one day being big amounts.

Drew Formsma:  Exactly.

Brad Formsma:  Drew, tell us a little bit more though when it comes to being generous with influence, how one of my friends invited you to the Free Wheelchair Mission conference and ... because you were looking for a place to give.

Drew Formsma:  Yeah, that's exactly right. I actually asked my dad like, "Do you know of any different non-profits? I know there's so many out there, but how can I get involved in something that's tangible as well?" The Free Wheelchair Mission is ... I went to this amazing gala night and I was able to donate a wheelchair to someone who wouldn't have one in another country. This was an opportunity that ... yeah, maybe I don't get to give away a truckload of wheelchairs yet, but that's coming soon.

Dean Sweetman:  Yep.

Drew Formsma:  The zeros are a little different right now but they're coming.

Dean Sweetman:  I'm telling you, it will, man. I think a big takeaway at this point is start small, start early, and get in this habit of generosity and it's gonna blossom into something that's bigger. Brad, I know you talk to churches and we have tens of thousands of churches are now on our platform and we talk to pastors all the time. Sometimes they're the ones struggling in the whole generosity area and so they even struggle to teach it in their church, but Brad if you could kind of encourage pastors today around this whole kind of generosity thing, what would you say to some church leaders who might be listening?

Brad Formsma:  Well, the first thing I'd say is thank you for what you do.

Dean Sweetman:  Amen.

Brad Formsma:  I have a heart for the work of a pastor, the tireless sacrifice, and I think that that's part of the call in my life is we wanted to create content and as my pastor says, you cut at it a different way, so we come in as a third party helper to the local church, helping three ways. We want to take their current vision and bring it back to the forefront from a different perspective. We want to help highlight past generosity because these churches have a lot of generous people in them, and so we want to highlight that but then we also want to challenge them on regular giving to their church and looking for those future opportunities.

Brad Formsma:  What I say to pastors is lean in through the connection of scripture and stories and we're happy to talk them through how to do that. It doesn't take much to move someone from awareness to action and then miracles happen.

Dean Sweetman:  Right.

Brad Formsma:  I think sometimes when it comes to generosity, people think it has to be a huge gift to the church that's highlighted but I believe that generosity inspires generosity, so whatever level you're at, you could hear a story from Drew and that's just like he said, so well, zeros add to it ... it's zeros and commas at some point. Pastors, thank you for what you do and you can go to and look at content and use it that we've created for you, and of course the way that Drew's been engaging his generation with his book, "Everyday Generosity" is so huge.

Brad Formsma:  If I had one thing to say to a pastor, I would say our heart and call is to help you get families talking about generosity.

Dean Sweetman:  Amen.

Brad Formsma:  We want families to learn that mom and dad give to their church and this is why. I want them to see the scripture. I want them to see the joy, I want them to see the fruit.

Dean Sweetman:  So good.

Drew Formsma:  It's amazing because when we come into a church and we teach the seven ways to the generous life, once the church goers start to understand six of the ways are outside money, it continues with that habit when they start giving in these six other ways, we get reports back weeks, months, years later that increased giving has happened because people start to understand that this is a lifestyle. That's really what it is.

Dean Sweetman:  Yep. So Drew, just for a moment I want you to do two things. One, speak to your generation for a moment. If you were gonna inspire some teenage boys and girls about generosity, what are a couple things that you'd say to them if they were listening today?

Drew Formsma:  If they were listening today I'd say a few things. I'd say that giving is something that we get to step into. We get to make the decision are we gonna step in or are we gonna step out? I believe God gives us assignments every day and we need to become aware. There's opportunities around us all the time. My dad always says you gotta get that antenna working because you'll see opportunities. That giving is such a beneficial part of our life. When we give with the right intention, a lot of great things come from it, health wise, financially, spiritually, a lot of great things happen. The other thing is if we're doing it for the wrong intention, doing it for the college resume, doing it for whatever, Instagram, social media, it's just not worth it. It's not worth your time and it doesn't have that everlasting benefit it should have.

Dean Sweetman:  Jesus talked about doing things in secret. Generosity is like ... sometimes we talk about it to encourage other people, but most of the times generosity happens behind the scenes and no one ever knows except the Lord.

Drew Formsma:  I think that's exactly right. What we've learned is there are stories that shouldn't be told and I feel like God is telling us not to share them, but there's others that need to be told because if people don't share their stories, who's gonna be inspired about giving? If we weren't doing what we're doing, how have 100 million people over the I Like Giving films been inspired? That's what I really take away from it. There's stories. Yeah, you're probably not going to meet someone in the bathroom today and thank them for what they do, but you might run into them later tonight at whatever restaurant you're going to. That's really what our take away is. We're a model but we're not saying you have to do exactly what we're doing. We're just sharing what our stories are about. Hopefully that motivates you to start living this way as well.

Dean Sweetman:  I just think there's so many opportunities, Drew, if you're looking for it and that's part of the generous spirit, the generous heart. It's like you're out and about. There's opportunities to be generous every hour of the day nearly.

Drew Formsma:  Yeah. The mailman comes flying down the street, that's a layup as my dad would say.

Dean Sweetman:  Yep.

Drew Formsma:  You better head in the cupboard because you're probably gonna grab a snack and a Coca Cola and head right out there. I mean, perfect opportunity.

Dean Sweetman:  I love it. So Brad, you guys ... it's, is that correct?

Drew Formsma:  I would say for the book

Dean Sweetman:  Great.

Drew Formsma:  Then for those online resources,

Dean Sweetman:  Terrific. I want to encourage everyone to get that book. It sounds like an absolute win. It's a no-brainer for people to get a hold of that.

Drew Formsma:  We like giving so we'll send you a few copies.

Dean Sweetman:  There you go. If you do that, I'm sure Jessie and the marketing team, we'll do something on our Facebook page and we'll be able to give some books away for sure and promote you guys. Man, I just love your spirit. You guys are ... we're a giving company so we talk about this stuff all the time and we have a lot of guests on here from every different angle, but I just think the freshness of what you're bringing to the subject is incredible. You're kindred spirits so just want to thank you both for an absolutely awesome few minutes. I think this is gonna be really encouraging.

Brad Formsma:  Well, this has been a privilege for us. We regularly go on these walks on these hills around here and we [inaudible 00:27:07] that there would be a movement of generosity in California blowing east.

Dean Sweetman:  Amen.

Brad Formsma:  It's awesome to know you're up the road. We just kind of ... our marketing plan is simple. Most people can't even pronounce our last name so we pray our socks off. Seriously, we pray our socks off that we can meet pastors and churches and conferences to help people. I didn't have a church, right. I've been in this for over a decade now and wrote another best selling book called "I Like Giving," so we would just ask if you ever have the thought, influence, connection, I've never asked a pastor to speak at their church [crosstalk 00:27:53] honor that, but we just tell them our heart for them, how we serve the local church and we want to get more parked cars moving.

Drew Formsma:  Come on.

Brad Formsma:  They're stuck. Some of the stories I tell are at my expense, but they're for the benefit of people getting unstuck.

Dean Sweetman:  Those are the best kind. Awesome guys.

Brad Formsma:  Yeah. Let's stay in touch.

Dean Sweetman:  Absolutely. Absolutely. Hey, I want to thank both you, Brad and Drew, just a phenomenal few moments today. Guys, if you're listening, watching, head on over to the website, we'll pop it up on social. It will be on the screen. I want to thank you all for tuning in again today. It's been a great day. We'll talk to you soon, family. God bless.

Drew Formsma:  Thank you.

Brad Formsma:  Thank you.

This week on TV, Dean is joined by Brad and Drew Formsma, authors of Everyday Generosity: Becoming a Generous Family in a Selfish World. Brad is the founder and president of I Like Giving, a movement that has inspired more than 100 million to live generously. Drew is an upcoming voice calling leading his generation to live generously as a key to a better life.


Here’s a list of resources mentioned during the show:

Publish date
February 20, 2019

How to Be a Generous Family in a Selfish World

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