There was once a young man who was a good man. He was successful and wealthy. He did what was right, followed the rules and stayed true to his faith. He went to a respected teacher and asked him what to do to have eternal life. This Teacher told him to sell all his possessions, give to the poor and to follow him.
So this young man took his billions and gave it away over and over again.
That’s not how the story we all know ends, but what if the Rich Young Ruler responded this way? What if he said, “Yes, and” like the rule of improv comedy?
Have you heard of Mr. Feeney? No, not this Mr. Feeny.
Charles Francis “Chuck” Feeney, 81 year old Irish-American billionaire from New Jersey, is known as the “James Bond of philanthropy.” For years, Feeney anonymously gave away millions of dollars, and he’s still doing it. His goal? To become broke.
Forbes shared this:
“Over the last 30 years he’s crisscrossed the globe conducting a clandestine operation to give away a $7.5 billion fortune derived from hawking cognac, perfume and cigarettes in his empire of duty-free shops. His foundation, the Atlantic Philanthropies, has funneled $6.2 billion into education, science, health care, aging and civil rights in the U.S., Australia, Vietnam, Bermuda, South Africa and Ireland. Few living people have given away more, and no one at his wealth level has ever given their fortune away so completely during their lifetime. The remaining $1.3 billion will be spent by 2016, and the foundation will be shuttered in 2020. While the business world’s titans obsess over piling up as many riches as possible, Feeney is working double time to die broke.”
Helping people makes him happy. He gives huge amounts of money to huge problems. He wants to give to charities and organizations that will empower and make people’s lives better in the long-run. His motto seems to be give while you live, impact lives and do it in secret.
He doesn’t put his name on buildings, hospitals and programs. He flies first class and doesn’t even own his own house or a car. Instead he leverages every available dollar to give. He has spent decades quietly living in privacy, but is willing to share his story now to encourage philanthropists to give while they’re young.
“Don’t wait to give your money away when you’re old or, even worse, dead. Instead, make substantial donations while you still have the energy, connections and influence to make waves. ‘People who have money have an obligation. I wouldn’t say I’m entitled to tell them what to do with it but to use it wisely.’”
What can we say yes to? And can we change our responses to a “yes, and”? Live for the impact, not the notoriety. Intestinally, yet nonchalantly be generous. Give gifts of hope, resources, and a future. Leverage your God-given gifts, skills, passions and abilities to make a Kingdom impact. Leave your mark with grace, whimsy and poise.