Episode 133 – David Gonzales, Learning to Live Generously

This week we’re concluding our series, Going Against the Grain, with entrepreneur, Executive Vice President of Generous Giving, and dad, David Gonzales. David has spent his career not only accumulating wealth but empowering others to give it away. Listen in as David and Jessica talk about the very “going against the grain” idea of giving away your money, as well as how we can cultivate generous, philanthropic hearts inside our kids.


Jessica: Hey, everyone! Welcome back to the Going Scared podcast. This is your host Jessica Honegger, founder of the social impact fashion brand Noonday Collection. Join me here every week for conversations on living lives of purpose by leaving comfort and going scared.

Today is our last episode in our series all about Going Against the Grain. We’ve had so many great conversations. I hope it’s encouraged you to live a life of purpose outside of your comfort zone and to see that it is worth it to go against the grain in certain areas of our life. And one of those most important areas, I believe, is living generously. Living generously. Living free. Living lives of stewardship.

And so, for our last episode today, I wanted to have David Gonzales who is the Vice President of Generous Giving. Generous Giving, their mission is to spread the message of generosity in order to grow generous givers, especially among those who are trusted with much. David is also an entrepreneur, and you’ll hear a little bit more about that. And he is a dad, and he shares also about how can we create givers in our children.

Guys, today’s conversation… Ah! I think generosity is just so contagious. I’m super excited for you to listen to our conversation today.


David Gonzales: Learning to Live Generously

Jessica: Okay, David Gonzales, welcome to the show.

David: Thank you. Thanks for having me.

Jessica: Okay, I’m so happy to have David on. So, here’s the deal, we are rounding out our series today. It’s all been about swimming upstream, going against the grain. We’ve been talking with people who are just a little outside the box. And I wanted to have someone on to talk about generosity, someone who both has a front seat to people that are living generously, someone who is generous. And David is the executive director of Generous Giving. And who better to share some generosity stories with us, than David himself. So, David, thanks so much for joining us today.

David: You bet. Glad to be here.

Jessica: I wanted to start off by hearing a little bit more of your story, because you know a lot about business, about money, and about leadership and stewardship. And you and your wife, you’ve grown a family business to two locations that serves hundreds of students. So, I wanted to start there, tell us a little bit more about your business and what you’ve learned about your own leadership and stewardship because of this business journey you’ve been on?

David: Sure. Well, we started the business in 1996. I started with my father-in-law, it was a cosmetology school and barber school, just one location, and grew it to a second location in Austin in 2015. And I love business, I love how I’m learning about leadership and learning about what does it mean to live generously with my staff, and with the students that God puts in our path to love and care for. But yeah, our business is really to give people a trade and give them training.

But one of the things that really is a distinctive of ours is really… we’re really about the whole person, right? So yes, we wanna teach people how to do stuff with their hands: cut hair, do color, stuff like that. But we also wanna really engage their heart, and try to give them the belief in themselves, a belief that they’re worthy of charging whatever price they’re gonna charge when they get out. That they actually are worth it.

So many of our students don’t come from backgrounds where they grew up with very supportive parents. And so, we wanna instill this kind of belief that you’re worth it, and you can do it. And really, if for lack of a better word, kind of minister to their heart and their mind. So that when they leave us, they like have a belief that they can do it. Not only that they have the skills to do it, but they really believe they can. And so, really generosity is a part of that, because you kind of invest in those programs. And in the curriculum that we’re doing, and kind of ways that we relate to those students and our staff is kind of what I’m learning about, like how I run my business, to live generously in the way that I love. My staff and my students is kind of a key kind of component of what my wife, Christie, and I do, and try to lead our company from.

Jessica: So you have, it’s interesting, because you have your foot in one area of your life business that is serving a population of people that is maybe learning how to start their own businesses for the very first time, how to value themselves and earn a dollar, and how to steward that dollar well. And then you have another foot in this other world as the executive vice president of Generous Giving, which at least in my perspective, targets a population of people that is higher in net worth, and is teaching them how to live radically within their means, so that they live a life of radical generosity and giving. So, tell me, what does generosity look like? Does it look different in those two different contexts?

David: Well, I mean, certainly, it does look different, but I think the principles are such the same. And what I love about your podcast, when I was listening to it, just as I was leading up to this interview is really, generosity is the ultimate way to be going against the grain of life. When people are scared, to live generously is really a rebellious act. And it doesn’t matter whether you have a lot or have a little, it takes kind of a faith and a belief that on the other side of giving away, whether it’s your time, your talent, your money, whatever it is, that you’ll actually have more as a result of giving it away than you had if you tried to just hold on to it.

“Generosity is the ultimate way to be going against the grain of life. When people are scared, to live generously is really a rebellious act.” David Gonzales

And so yes, there’s a lot of differences between those that have a tremendous amount of resources and those that do not, but I think the principles are the same. And so, I love the work that I do at Generous Giving really… There’s a biblical story of the widow’s mite, you probably know it, this widow who had very little, almost nothing. She gave away her last copper pennies, she gave it away, and Jesus in looking at her said, "She gave more than anybody else."

And of course, he wasn’t really referring to the amount. He was really referring to her faith and her belief that she could trust God for her future. And so, whether you have a little or have a lot, it’s really this principle of living for others, and kind of trusting in a future that is really not about you securing it yourself, which I know is a lot about what your podcast is all about. So…

Jessica: Yeah. As you know, we work all over the world, Noonday collection does. And a story that really stood out to me is the group we work with in Uganda, and there was a woman because of land grabbing, which is just a really horrific, really cultural phenomenon in Uganda and many parts of East Africa, where when a woman loses her husband, the land actually belongs to his family. Even though legally there’s laws to protect the wife, but culturally, that doesn’t matter. And so, there is this cultural tradition of land grabbing and literally kicking that woman out, often burning her possessions, kicking the children out as well. And that has happened to a couple of the artisans that work with the group…with our artisan group that we work with.

And I remember this one woman had had everything taken from her and showed up at work, just you know, desperate, sad, and throughout the day, this community of artisans gathered together and one by one said, "Here’s my mosquito net. Here’s some spoons. Here is… I’m gonna get you a mattress." And they are not people with much, but they are that widow. And that is a principle of community that I see. I see that generosity because of the way communities lived out. And what I love about Generous Giving is you are wanting to really indoctrinate us and enculturate us with these principles of generosity, where in America, we can become really accustomed to living outside of our means.

And I remember when Joe and I went through a journey of generosity, one of the biggest principles that stood out to me was this idea that when money comes in, let’s say as business owners, let’s say you have a really good year. And you get maybe an extra distribution you didn’t expect, or the profitability is up that year, whatever. Giving rather than keeping is my default, not the exception, but the rule, unless there’s a compelling reason to hold on to my money should I just normally give. And I’m like, wow, that is a complete flip flop, that is going against the grain. Getting some Christmas money in from your aunt, even we’re teaching our kids this, should we just assume, "Oh, this is mine to get to go buy that next thing I’ve been wanting." Or is this like, "Man, this is my opportunity to give and that is my default."


Giving Without Obligation

Jessica: So, I would love for you to share a little bit about Generous Giving, the organization where you are also leading, and what led you to that position and to being involved?

David: Well, I’ll start with that. I worked for Young Life way back in the day, 20 years ago, and I kept meeting people that were really generous and they loved really being a good steward of the resources that they felt God had entrusted to them. They were very wealthy. And I remember meeting two distinct people, right? There was this one who was extremely wealthy, their family was extremely wealthy. And they had so much joy in the way that they gave and leaned into opportunities to give to the Young Life camp I was working on. And then there was like this other family, and they had a different experience. And they were more tied up and almost afraid, would be one way to look at it. They still gave but they did not have joy. They almost did it out of obligation. And as I…

I worked there for about five years, and I would observe these two different types of people. And I came to realize that the reason they were different was that one had really kind of made peace with this idea that what they had was really not their own, was not theirs to really have but they were like they were really almost a vessel for the world or for the community, or for God.

And so, they really took that and really lived into that idea. Whereas the other was really tied up into like, "Well, what do I have, and what is my net worth, and I wanna give, but it’s really more of a duty and guilt than like, out of joy, and hope, and love, and flourishing." And so what I determined in that time was that it was Generous Giving, was the group that was sharing this message, that was really leading people into the kind of the first category of person, to be a people that like, really trust their future to God, really trust their hope to God, and not their resources. And in fact, was helping to break people from the bounds of materialism and greed, and really freed them up, almost like a prison break for their life.

And most people don’t think that people that have a lot are in a prison. Most people think, "Well, no, that’s not their life, they’ve got his beautiful life." But actually, the more wealthy people get, oftentimes the more isolated they become. And what they need is they need to be broken free, and have the freedom to be generous, and give, and love, and share their life with people. Because ultimately, we’re all the same whether we have a lot or have a little. So Generous Giving, their mission is to spread the biblical message of generosity and to grow generous givers across the country especially, and even the world through another organization. And why I love it so much is that it really does create freedom for people and helps them find life that is truly live. There’s a scripture and in 1Timothy 6 it talks about, basically, to challenge the rich or those that have a lot."

And that’s really everyone in America, quite frankly, to really not put their hope in their resources or money, but really put their hope in God, but to live generously. And in so doing, they will take hold of the life that is truly life. And one of the cool things about Generous Giving, is that we’re 100% funded by a couple of large foundations. So, we never ask for money as a nonprofit, that’s pretty unusual. We just want to stimulate and create people that are super generous to their community and to their world, without a care or an interest in whether it comes back to us. We want it to go out to the world in some ways, so that people really experience the love of God through the way that you, Jessica, and I, love our neighbors, love our communities.

“We just want to stimulate and create people that are super generous to their community and to their world, without a care or an interest in whether it comes back to us.” David Gonzales

So that’s kind of our mission. And we do that through the Journey of Generosity retreat that you and Joe went on, and through some conferences and some other events. But it’s fun, really fun work. And I get to see incredible stories of people doing crazy, generous things, making crazy generous decisions in their life. But you know, what’s really, really, really, important is, they’re not just being crazy, or living generously to live generously, they’re really doing it because they’re really trying to really be a steward of the resources that God’s entrusted to them. And they’re trying to follow Him to love their neighbor well.

And that’s gonna look different for everybody. It looks different for you, it looks different for me, it looks different for this person or that person of this family, that family. And we really, as the Generous Giving, we really embrace the difference. And we are not prescriptive in any way because really what we’re encouraging people to do is to follow God and listen to God. God’s still small voice in their life, and actually act out of obedience to follow Him not any kind of prescription of what does it look like to be generous? Because it looks different for everybody.

Jessica: Well, I remember when my husband and I were invited, we were invited by some friends of ours, the Blues, you know Michael Blue?

David: Right.

Jessica: Yes. And he…oh my God, this is gonna make me cry, only because I’ve been kind of emotional lately. But when I was starting Noonday and it was just such a little ragtag thing. It was me in my guest bedroom pulling together items that I was purchasing from artisans. And as I realized, "You know what, I think that this is actually a business that could have legs." I knew I needed an attorney to help with some of the contracts that I needed written for ambassadors. I don’t know, it’s just kind of 101 business, right, you need an attorney. But I was like, I don’t have any money. And Melissa Blue was hosting a Noonday collection trunk show in her home. And I was the ambassador at that time, because we didn’t have ambassadors yet. And I was just shooting the breeze with her husband later.

And at this point I was really praying about, okay, what is Noonday gonna be? Is it gonna be a business, is it gonna be a nonprofit? If it’s a business, then I need to really think about how to get capital, maybe I need to find an angel investor. And my in-laws had told me about this guy, Ron Blue, who had really helped them reshape how they were living in retirement. So, they had really gotten to this radical shift in their own belief around how to be givers, how to be generous, which they are so generous.

So, I was sitting there talking with Michael after this trunk show, and I just said, "Yeah, you know, I’m just trying to figure out, do I get an angel investor? You know, I’m wondering… My in laws have been learning under this man named Ron Blue, and I’m thinking they might have access to people that would wanna invest in a social impact business." And he looked at me and he goes, "Jessica, what’s my last name? And I’m like, "Blue." And he goes, "Yeah, that’s my dad." He goes, "That’s my dad." And he, pro bono… And this is when he was working for a big-time corporate office in downtown, and he, for free, pro bono, helped me set up everything that I needed for our business. As well as when we were adopting Jack, he, pro bono, helped us go through re-adoption process here in America. Because Joe and I did not have money at the time. And so, here I am being invited by this man who has really demonstrated so much generosity to me, inviting on this journey of generosity. Well, Joe and I had just recently climbed our way out of debt.

And for those listening to the podcast you know the Noonday story, it started out of this really financial, hard to place, during the recession. And we had just found our way out of debt. Noonday was facing a little bit of success, Joe was working in real estate. And we had to realize, though… generosity had been such a value of ours, there was that fear step still. Because after facing like a financial crisis, it’s easy to still come at life out of fear and not faith. And that weekend really was a turning point for us and being able to put some stakes in the ground and saying, "Gosh, before we even are successful, before we even… you know, if success, if financial success is gonna be part of our livelihood, how are we going to now decide so we don’t slide in our finances?"

And so, we made a lot of decisions around that time, and it was so fundamental. And then the coolest thing happened is one of my dear friends, she and her husband –her husband had just lost his job. She wasn’t working at the time. And they had just adopted a little girl who only has one arm and were in the middle of building a house that could support what she needed, as far as the doorways and making it handicap accessible and all of that. So, they’re in the middle of this house remodel, he loses his job. Due to how it went down he couldn’t get unemployment. I mean, it was just… it was a very, very hard situation that they were in.

And for some reason, I brought it up in the context of that group. I didn’t really know many of the people that came to this group with us. I mean, we weren’t like hang-out friends. And afterwards, one-by-one, without knowing that everyone else was doing this, they started texting me and said, "We wanna be the unemployment to this friend of yours." Oh, God, it just makes me cry. Sorry, I don’t know why I’m crying. And that is my hope for even just… you know, we don’t talk about money or when we talk about it, it’s all about getting out of debt, you know?

David: Yeah, right. Right.

Jessica: Or living within our means or whatever. But just this whole idea of just being able to put needs out there, too. I mean, that was also the vulnerable part, was for my friend Megan, to receive that, to be on the receiving end. Like, basically, we covered enough in this group for basically their unemployment for… I think it ended up being six months, which is incredible.

And it never would have happened if we hadn’t sort of had this conversation about generosity, and then also on Megan’s end if she hadn’t shared this need. So, on that end, that weekend was filled with so many stories. And I think it’s these stories that can really inspire us and really see that it is possible, it is possible to live within our means and then decide ahead of time, this is our set budget, the rest it just…we’re giving it away, we’re giving it away.


Walking with Others

Jessica: So, what are some of those stories or those people’s lives that stand out to you, as you have been walking with people that are really living lives against the grain?

David: That’s great. So many stories. And what I love about them is that they’re so different. It’s the stories like you just told, of you guys stepping into helping your friend, like, that’s a beautiful story of you guys all just kind of responding in the moment. I can think of one out of Idaho where a couple whose husband acquired this other company, and the wife in the acquiring company, she goes and starts to meet with the staff of the new company just to get to know them and love on them. And she’s having lunch with one of the receptionist or administrators and finds out that her husband has this really, really bad disease. And actually, he’s looking at needing a liver transplant.

And so, go figure that this particular woman, also her career has been to help with organ donation. So, she’s very aware of it, she’s like, "Well, tell me more." And as they talk more, it comes to realize that this husband that needs this liver transplant actually doesn’t need an entire liver actually. If we did… you probably don’t know that you can actually give a part –I can give a part of my liver to somebody else if it’s a match, and that liver will regenerate into the organ recipient and help them, right.

So, this woman who’s meeting her husband’s new acquired company’s administrative assistant or whatever, basically has that moment, kind of like you had that job where she’s like, "I could do that. I could give you my liver." And lo and behold, she goes through this process to determine if she is a match, she is a match. And then, and as you can imagine, she walks through this process with her husband, who’s saying, "Honey, this is a big deal. I mean, you’re gonna go under a huge surgery, some major surgery, major anesthesia. This has tremendous risk. We have young kids. Is this something we really need to do, or…?" I mean, it was a real struggle for him. Because he literally was looking at his sweet wife and going, "God, I don’t wanna lose you. Like, this is a big deal." And sure enough, they really made peace with it. They went through the surgery, and she gave away her liver. And that husband and that wife are living well today. Now, I think at this point, it’s been like five or six years, with this person’s organ as a result of kind of her just stepping out in faith to give. I just heard…

Jessica: Wow. That’s amazing.

David: Yeah, I just talked to a friend of mine who I showed that story to just before COVID in January of 2020. He saw this story because we actually made a video story out of it at Generous Giving. And literally, he had that same epiphany and about two months ago, he completed the surgery where he gave away some other organ. Now at Generous Giving, we’re not trying to give away organs, that’s not our deal. I know it sounds weird, but what we’re trying…

Jessica: It’s so cool though. I never would be thinking about that. But I love that you’re bringing that up, because I think we start talking about money and generosity, and especially during COVID right now, you know, we’ve all been impacted, a lot of people have been impacted.

David: Sure.

Jessica: And so, it’s just easy to kind of go, "Oh, I’m gonna circle the wagon." But even in our organs, to think, "Gosh, my organs… Like God, how can I steward my organs well?" I have never prayed that prayer before.

David: Yeah, nor I. But I think that the whole issue that we’re talking about, why I love this message of generosity is that I think it’s the essence of the gospel, the essence of the gospel, "For God so loved the world that He gave…" And what did He give? He gave the most generous gift in Jesus to us. And what did Jesus do? He gave his whole life for us. And so really, this conversation on generosity is around me dying to my own selfishness and desires and being about whatever my God, whatever Jesus is calling me to be about, whether that’s my organs, or the money that he’s interested in me to steward or my time. It’s whatever.

“Why I love this message of generosity is that I think it’s the essence of the gospel.” David Gonzales

You know, one of the things I love about Generous Giving is I run into people, really like you, Jessica, who like they have a gift for business, and they’re really good at it. Like really good. And so, I think of my friend Pete, who has started so many businesses, serial entrepreneur. He’s in his ’60s. And one of the businesses is a hydro plant in South America. Why? Well, because those people down there need energy, right, but more than that they need jobs.

So, he starts like a major multi-million-dollar hydro plant. They built a dam on a river to provide energy for that community and employs like 400,000 people down there. But he’s trying to be generous and his attitude is, "I wanna be generous with my whole life, you know, my labor, my influence, my finance, and my expertise, my life." I wanna be generous with my whole life. And so, he’s a gifted businessperson, like he…

And you know people like that, you’re one of those people. Like, you see opportunities, you know how to organize people, you know how to create value. And he’s doing that, he doesn’t wanna give up that because he has more than he needs.

And so, I think at one point, I asked him, we asked him, like, "Well, what does that mean for you in terms of generosity?" And he’s like, "I don’t know, I kind of set my salary. I kind of live on like 1% or 2% of what these things generate, and I give the rest away. We’re just like trying to develop Kingdom around the world."

Another story is that same person started a business inside of a prison and is giving dignified work to prisoners in a maximum-security prison. And what’s cool is that this generosity thing, it’s not about Pete. Actually, this business that he started in the prison has changed his life. Like, that’s the thing that’s so beautiful about it, it not only changes the recipient’s life, but probably more so changes my life, your life, Pete’s life. I’ve had the same experience of going to Rwanda. I don’t know if you knew this, but we started a cosmetology school in Kigali with African New Life Ministries. So, we have a cosmetology school that we’ve funded and started and helped run for the next last…

Jessica: I have gotten my hair done there, thank you very much.

David: Have you really?

Jessica: Yes, I have.

David: Well, I hope it went okay, it is a school. But…

Jessica: The head rub was second to none.

David: There you go. But I tell people this all the time, and I know you’d agree is that, "I need the poor way more than the poor needs me." And maybe that was the secret of my friends that I met at Young Life way, way back 20 years ago is they, the ones that really got it, they did not look at it, like, "I have this and I’m somebody that’s giving to you and coming down and helping you, and I’ll make your life better." They had humility. And they realized that they had a need, and their need was to be generous. And that was a secret of their life’s journey to flourish, was to give. And without the opportunity to give, they would be lacking, actually.

“That was a secret of their life’s journey to flourish, was to give. And without the opportunity to give, they would be lacking, actually.” David Gonzales

And so, what I’ve seen in visiting many developing countries, Haiti to Rwanda, all over the world is that I need them far more than they need me. And I learned so much more from them than then they’re learning or gaining from from me. And I’m, by no means, an expert. And I feel like I’m still, even at 12 years of working with Generous Giving I feel like I’ve got just the training wheels of what does it would mean to really step out in faith. But yeah, I look at that and I go, "It’s really humility that I need to continue to grow in in order to be more generous, and to love and give more graciously and with greater love for my fellow men."


Practicing Good Stewardship

Jessica: Gosh, I love that. Have you seen… Because, you know, we’ve had to just stay… it’s just the flow of our hearts is to go towards fear. And we have to constantly –it’s an effort in this journey that we’re on to live against the values that we see in the world. And so, it takes effort and intention. I think sometimes we can hear these stories of giving and be like, "Oh, that sounds great." But there is a cost. There’s a cost to dying to just your selfishness, your greed and really, it’s your fear, right? I would say that at the core, the root of why we don’t give in a way that we all can give there is, or we give just enough, but like to really… that radical generosity, the root of it is fear.

What would you say are some of the obstacles that you’ve seen? And then I’m curious what this last year has been like under COVID and under a time of struggle for people.

David: Gosh, I think you hit the nail on the head. I think fear and oftentimes security, sometimes comfort, right, is what actually keeps people from being generous, from stepping out into giving. I was telling one of my sons like, "What is courage? Courage is standing up in the face of fear and doing it anyway. It’s not really not being afraid." Right? So, fear is still present for all of us. If you were a business owner during COVID, I mean, if you weren’t a little afraid, you weren’t really alive because nobody knew what was gonna happen or how it was gonna turn out.

But really, what we all had to adapt to was to go ahead anyway, right? I asked the question to my team, "What does it look like for us to thrive in the midst of this pandemic? Not just make it, not just, you know, not die, but what does it look like for us to thrive? To actually overcome and actually excel in the midst of this?"

And I’m not saying it’s got to be financial or that we’re gonna have to grow the business, but what does it look like for us as a team, internally, our staff to grow and have more than we had before? Those are the types of questions I was trying to ask, really to try to actually interrupt the lie that because of the pandemic, you have to be fearful, you’ve got to be afraid. Because I think fear is the opposite of love. And I want love to be my driver, not fear. And I think that’s the other thing that helps us be generous is to cultivate love. Because love –really generosity is love in action, right? And so fear is what’s trying to keep us all from reaching out to our neighbor, extending ourselves to the poor or to the needy, or to people that need help if you have something to be generous with your time, talent or treasure, doesn’t matter. But yeah, I think fear is it.

So how do you interrupt fear? You know, I think it’s a little bit about your own belief. But I also think it’s about your practice, you’ve got to practice being generous, even if it’s just small ways. Even if it’s when you’re like trying to put yourself in a position to be more generous. I had a friend that used to basically carry around with him like a hundred $2 bills. $2 bills, kind of a special little deal. And he used to just try to give them away every day, just to people, just to love them, just to encourage them, just to make them smile, whether it be someone on the street, whether it be a waitress, whether it be a little kid.

But just that practice of giving, whether it’s a little or a lot, I think is one of the most important ways you can eradicate fear in your life. And you’ve got to practice it. I think that’s been true for Christie and l over the last… I think we’ve been married, I guess, 27 years in May. And so, our practice of giving has been something that we’ve been fortunate that we started right when we got married. And I think it’s helped us a ton with fear.

“Just that practice of giving, whether it’s a little or a lot, I think is one of the most important ways you can eradicate fear in your life.” David Gonzales

So that would be something, I think, is a big antidote is you’ve got to actually make a practice of giving. And it can’t just be at the end of the year, and it can’t just be maybe just at church and it happens… maybe it happens automatically through ACH or whatever. You probably need to put some other practices in your life. And I would encourage you, I would encourage everyone that’s listening, to do that with your kids if you have children, like help them develop that generosity muscle early because they’ll need it in their own life. So that’s what I would say.

Jessica: Wow. I’m about to say, "God, my organs are yours. They belong to you, so if you need me to give them up." I mean, there are so many ways that we can be generous. And yeah, I think with auto…what is it? What is it called auto…when you just kind of have…

David: Autopilot?

Jessica: When you have your money auto deducting?

David: Oh, yeah, yeah, yeah. Right.

Jessica: You know, so like, it’s just auto deducting. It’s going to the tithe. I mean, even the organization’s we give to we have that. And so, it can kind of just… that can become autopilot. I think that’s what, you know, yes, that creates an accountability structure to where your money is going away, and you are not going to mess with it. It’s going to that value that you set ahead of time to give.

But I do think that we, every day, need to make that conscious effort to say, "Oh, my life isn’t my own, and where are those things that I’m holding on to? And how can I really practice stewardship?" How would you… you know, I think you’ve done it throughout this interview, but I’m curious how you would describe what stewardship is.

David: Yeah, I would. You know, stewardship kind of sometimes has a bad name. Sometimes people have a negative connotation with it. But for me, stewardship is simply that I’m the manager, I’m not the owner. And as a manager, my job is to care for whatever it is that I’m given responsibility to manage for the owner. And for me, in my journey, I believe the owner of all that I have is really God’s. And so for me to be a steward means to ask the owner, to ask God, through reading His word and praying like, "Lord, how would you have me steward the resources you’ve given me, everything?" And everything’s got to be on the table, including our children, right?

For me, that’s probably the most scary thing, that I’m a steward of my kids. I don’t own them. Really, they’re God’s kids and He’s given to me for a time. And so, how do I love them and care for them as he would have me care for them? So that’s how I define stewardship.

Jessica: Man, that’s speaking to me right now. I’m really going through it with having tweens and a teen now, and that journey of motherhood where you go from being the one that’s keeping them safe and fed, and loved, and nurtured, and dance parties, and fun, and discipline, for all of the things like that would be dangerous for them.

David: For sure.


Learning to Love Without Hesitation

Jessica: And now, I mean, I’m in grief. I mean, it is like a very real grief of letting go and seeing that they’re their own people. And how do I steward them well, but they’re not mine. You’re right. They’re not. What was that journey like for you? Because you have four kids, and all of them are teens now, right?

David: They’re older than that and three boys and we lost our daughter, Tilly Kate. She was born stillborn in 2002. But I have three boys living here on the earth, 24 to 17. And I will tell you, that has been my greatest struggle. Keller talks about that sometimes we have idols in our life, and that can be power, comfort, different things, and you can often find out where your idols are by what you spend money on most easily. And as I looked at that in my life, I realized that my children have been my idols mostly. That’s been my greatest struggle.

So, Jessica, man, I will tell you that it has been a hard journey for us, Christie and I. It has been anything but a straight path up into the right for our kids. They have struggled, they’ve had mental health issues. Gosh, I hate these iPhones and the internet for some of this garbage that is out there. But, you know, throughout it what I’ve been learning is: I’ve learned dependency on God, more than ever, I’ve learned prayer more than ever. I know it’s cliché, but it’s all I got. I mean, literally, I tell them what I think. I gave them the teachings as they were growing up and ultimately, I’m at a place with, especially the older two, where I just am trying to be a resource for them when they’re looking for one.

And it has been the hardest journey. And we’ve walked through some really, really, really, really hard things. And I think the thing that I’m most grateful for, that I realized early on, is that I needed to have relationship with my kids. Like, no matter what, no matter what they did, no matter what they chose, no matter what they believed, that I wanted to have a really authentic relationship with them. And I wanted them to know me and the authenticity of my life and my journey, and I wanted to know them and theirs. And so that’s something I’ve really fought for. Because ultimately, I know that if I have relationship with them, then there’s a possibility that they will look to me for guidance and direction. And as a father that’s all I can do is hope that they’ll continue to want to relate to me as their dad. And I can be a resource for them and love them.

“I wanted to have a really authentic relationship with my kids. And I wanted them to know me and the authenticity of my life and my journey, and I wanted to know them and theirs.” David Gonzales

Jessica: I love that. I love how we’re closing up. How do we love our kids generously? Loving them unconditionally with no strings attached because… And I did a whole series with Dr. Curt Thompson who is a psychiatrist who writes a lot on shame, and we spoke a lot about this on the podcast series back in December. But so many times when we say we’re anxious about our kids, we’re not really anxious about our kids, we’re anxious because of the emotion it brings up in us, you know. And so much about, I think this journey of parenting, it’s about them but it’s really about us. Because it touches on our own, like you said, our own places of insecurity, idolatry…

David: Absolutely.

Jessica: …control, all of those things.

David: Oh, my gosh.

Jessica: I really feel like my kids are parenting me right now. And really parenting me into greater levels of freedom. Because I wouldn’t have known how deep these Issacs were in my life had I not been kind of going through this journey of letting my children parent me and call to those unhealed places in my own life. But man, it sure is brutal. It’s brutal.

David: Yeah, I mean, I am right there with you. It is, at times, has been horrific and difficult. And I think that you’re right on. I mean, I think God is using my children to redeem the broken parts of my soul, of my heart, and helping me to become a greater lover of people because of them. And I ultimately want that, I’ve always said I wanted that, I just didn’t know I was gonna have to go through this in order to get it right.

But it’s clear to me now that the only way to really love people well is to realize in some ways and be healed of some of the brokenness inside of me. And so, that’s the journey we’ve been on as well. And I just continue to bless you to do it and step in, and lean in, lean into the counseling. Been there, done that, still doing it. And continue to run scared with your children, like, go for it, be courageous, and live into really the person that God’s created you to be Jessica, a horrific woman –a heroic woman, not horrific.

Jessica: Horrific. I can’t be horrific as well, David.

David: You’re heroic. I mean, you’re somebody that gets after it. And I know that’s who God’s made you to be and just keep going after your children the same way. And ultimately, He’s gonna bring it back to a beautiful place.
Jessica: Alright, so I think that it’s time to go donate an organ, guys. Seriously though, I love this idea of not just checking a box like, “Okay, I gave to that organization I give to,” or if you are a churchgoer, like, “Check, I’m tithing.” How can every day we wake up and see the potential? Today is a day that holds the possibility for me to be generous, to live life outside of myself.

Generosity is contagious, and I think it also can pull us out of some of the mire that we’ve been in, especially for me. Y’all know me, over the last few months, I’m not meant to live in a COVID lifestyle. I’m real ready to get out of this. I’m ready back with people, back traveling, especially globally meeting with the artisans who inspire me, honestly, to live generous lives.

So, thank you so much for tuning in to this series. We’re going to take a little break. We’ll be back in a few weeks with a new series that we’re kicking off that’s called Decide, Don’t Slide. As we come out of this pandemic and out of this lifestyle of just living in our homes and distancing from so many people. There’s been a lot of good lessons that we’ve learned, and we know that life can pick up right back as we know it if we don’t decide ahead of time how we want to live. We talked a little bit about that on the podcast today. You are pursuing financial success in your life. You need to decide now: how are you going to live? Because otherwise, you will just slide.

So, hey, if you haven’t left a review, please go do that. I would love it. I’m convicted when I say that because I listen to podcasts and it reminds me, I need to go leave a review for the podcasts that I listen to. But I sure would love it, especially as we go on a little break, and I’ll launch the next series and read some of your reviews. So, let’s do that. Thank you so much for being a listener.

Our wonderful music for today’s show is by my good friend Ellie Holcomb. Going Scared is produced by Eddie Kaufholz. And I’m Jessica Honegger. Until next time, let’s take each other by the hand and keep going scared.

Check out the link below for a free one hour event hosted by Generous Giving on April 22nd if you’d like more information on stepping into generous living and giving: https://generousgiving.org/events/celebration-of-generosity/.