The generosity habits we form early shape our life in giving.
Paul grew up as the sixth generation on his family’s farm, about a one hour’s journey from Melbourne, Australia. After a few years of marriage, he was living in a cottage on his family’s land, working as an agronomist. “We didn’t have much at all,” Paul explains. But he already had a heart to be rich toward God. “As a teenager, I remember going up after a mission talk and asking ‘What’s more important – to go or to resource people to go?’ I was open to either.” During the Dettmanns’ lean years, Paul says, “I remember one time writing out a check for all the money we had in our bank account and giving it to a mission organization. It was only $2000, but I sort of wanted to write out a check for all the money I had.” Paul laughs, “It was a very convenient time to do that because we barely had anything!”
An increased standard of giving.
Over the last decade, Paul’s work in planting trees as carbon offsets has thrived. “We got our first big client in 2005,” Paul says, “and then things started to get interesting.” As blessings increased, the Dettmanns kept generosity increasing along with it. “Business is a risk,” Paul says. “When you take that risk, you don’t want to fail and NOT have invested in good things on the way through. You’re banking eternal capital if you’re giving it away. So you’ve got to be generous on the way through, not just afterwards.” To be generous on the way through, the Dettmann set a giving goal. “It feels like God keeps stretching it, but then He keeps making it possible for us to meet that number.” The Dettmanns doubled their goal, and doubled it again. “It looks ambitious,” Paul says, “so maybe we can’t… but every year we sort of say that. But He’s the one who’s the giver.”
Party with a purpose
The Dettmanns naturally weave their gifts of hospitality and generosity together. “We have a big bonfire each year,” Paul says, “and we have about 300 people. We always try to raise the profile of some issue that we’re thinking about.” The event is not a fundraiser – it’s a gift to the neighbors. “It’s a great way to be generous because we love our community and want people to come together and to share the joy of faith with our neighbors.” As the evening unfolds, Paul pauses the music and introduces a leader of a cause that he cares about. “We had a guy from Open Doors talking about persecuted Christians, or Dr. Nathan talked about his work in India [see below], or someone talks about race relations in Australia. If you want to tune out, you can just go put more marshmallows on the fire.” Then the music resumes, and the party continues with a bit more purpose and joy.