To inspire people to live generously is what Brad Formsma is all about. After meeting his amazing mother I understand where he gets. He is the founder and president of I Like Giving, a movement that has inspired more than 120 million people in 170 countries to live generously. In his books and messages, he helps organizations create engaged teams and fulfilling workplaces through the power of generosity.
He’s spoken to hundreds of thousands, encouraging a lifestyle of giving everywhere he goes.
Brad is a master storyteller and speaker, and the author of the bestselling book “I Like Giving: The Transforming Power of a Generous Life,” named one of the top inspirational books of 2015.
Brad has inspired several fortune 50 and fortune 100 companies businesses across the United States with a refreshing approach to engaging teams, which impacts employee retention, customer service, and an organization’s health. He has been featured on “TODAY” and Fox News and a long list fortune 100 companies.
He has spoken here at CCV and inspired our staff, why? Because he is good friends with our Sr pastor Ashley Wooldridge, who, like Brad has a passion for generosity.
Linked in: https://www.linkedin.com/in/bradformsma/
Twitter: Formsma on Twitter
Christ’s Church of the Valley: https://ccv.church/
CCV Missions: www.ccv.church/missions
Pastor Larrie Fraley: linkedin.com/in/larrie-fraley-53445032
Speaker1: [00:00:05] What if we rewrote the story? What if we chose to respond with empathy and compassion? What if we chose to give to a world that doesn't deserve it? What would happen then? Like a stone hitting water, you would start a ripple effect of change. Inspiring a wave of generosity that could transform not only the hallways of our school, but the wounds of a broken world. You could be the difference.
Larrie: [00:01:38] Welcome to another episode of Let's Go 360. I'm so excited about today's episode. For those of you that are Star Wars…. Let's say you're a Star Wars freak. Well, during that movie series, there was a character called a Padawan. And now that's a that's sort of an apprentice who in Star Wars is paired up with a, oh, a Jedi knight or a Jedi master for teaching and training. And in the movie, the Padawans had to actually wear a braid to kind of denote their status as in the Jedi ranks. Well, today I'm the the Padawan. And with me today is the Yoda.
[00:02:29] Jedi master. Yoda. You seek Yoda
Larrie: [00:02:33] Yoda. Well, Brad Formsma is with us today. He's the founder and president of I Like Giving a movement that has inspired more than 120 million people in over 170 countries to live generously. And in his books and messages, he helps organizations create engaged teams and fulfilling workplaces through the power of generosity. He's spoken to hundreds of thousands, encouraging a lifestyle of giving wherever he goes. He's a master storyteller and speaker and an author of a of a best selling book. I like giving the Transforming Power of a Generous Life. Named one of the top inspirational books of 2015. And he has inspired several Fortune 50 and 100 companies, businesses across the United States with a refreshing approach to engaging teams, which impacts employee retention, customer service, organizational health. He's been featured on today and Fox News and many others, and he's spoken here at CCV. He's inspired our staff. Why? Because he's good friends with our senior pastor, Ashley Wooldridge, who, as you know, has a passion for generosity. Now, I've been around a long time and I've met with dozens of dozens of senior pastors across our country. And the thing I have noticed is they all have some sort of personal passion. And with Ashley, there is no doubt his passion is generosity. In fact, listen to this clip from March of last year in a series he did called Ambushed.
Ashley: [00:04:16] More Than US was an initiative we launched back in 2019. And what we wanted to do is we wanted to raise some money, not for us, but to invest in other churches across the valley to help them grow. And so 5098 households, you gave over $6 million and 100% of that is given away to help churches reach more people for Jesus all around us.
Larrie: [00:04:41] So without further ado, Brad, welcome to the show.
Brad: [00:04:44] It's great to be here and with you, Larrie.
Larrie: [00:04:47] Well, brother, tell us a little bit about you and your family.
Brad: [00:04:51] Well, I'm originally from Grand Rapids, Michigan. Today, I'm married almost 30 years. I have three kids, 24, 20 and 16 and started out as a business guy. And then there was a moment, Larrie, it was 2005. I was on a run. And one of those natural beauty roads in Michigan, which is funny. That's another way of saying, you know, muddy, messy and uneven. But that's when I started to realize that there was another thing that I was supposed to do. And that thing was to start talking about the generous life and new, exciting ways.
Larrie: [00:05:28] Well, you know, your mother is here in the studio with us, and I can tell you that I'm already thinking about the next podcast is going to be with her, because I'd love to find out about you when you were growing up. So you need to promise me that I'll be able to interview your mother, Pam, in the next podcast.
Brad: [00:05:49] Absolutely. Well, and she's got dirt on me for sure. But what she did for me, you know, when Jesus talks about the three whens and I keep kidding Ashley, this is the book. He should write the three wins because I don't want to do it. But when you give when you pray and when you fast and my mom, man, I don't see her fast a lot. But did she pray for me? And she's generous.
Larrie: [00:06:15] Well, so, Brad, now, in 2010, you started I like giving. Its mission was to inspire people to live generously. Tell us how that came about.
Brad: [00:06:27] Well, it really is, understanding me just briefly, six words to describe me. Entrepreneurial spirit, life passion is giving, and then I was reading a book on the power of the Holy Spirit and how He speaks to you today. And I started to realize that maybe there was something more for me to do. You know, entrepreneurs, they like to fix things that are broken or create new things. And all of a sudden, I got this feeling in 2005, what would it look like to create an organization that would inspire people to live generously, daily, weekly and monthly? And that would mean, Larrie, that we would have to then dig into Scripture and really get biblically immersed to find out that there's many ways to give, including the financial piece.
Larrie: [00:07:17] Mm hmm. And so when when. So how does that work out? How does I like giving live out its mission today?
Brad: [00:07:25] Well, you know, one of our core values is story. And we don't have very many core values, but we have four. And one of them is to use stories to message. And so our family in 2007 read a newspaper article about a Sudanese father and son who were firebombed out of their village. They lost friends, they lost family, and they ended up in our town, Grand Rapids, Michigan. And as I kept reading the article to our kids, who were ten, seven and two at the time, it became clear that all they had were clothes on their back and two bikes. Well, as we read further, we realized. Somebody came along and stole their bikes and my goodness, that's how the dad gets to work. And that's the son's main toy. And I just said to the kids, one powerful question, what could we do? And my oldest son said, We got to go get him bikes. And so he ran off to the bike store, got him bikes. And that's kind of, Larrie, where I should bring you into my marriage just a little bit, because we pulled up to that first stop sign and my wife said, Hey, idea guy, where do they live? I don't know. We're activators. I was. Anyway, have you ever noticed this that sometimes in marriages there's a gas pedal and a break. But anyway, we'll keep going. We eventually found this family and all that the dad could say because of the language barrier is I like bike. I like bike. And Larrie, as I would tell that story to friends way back in the 2000s, they started reporting back their own story and they said it was the bike story that began that ripple of generosity that you heard on that opening clip, because generosity inspires generosity.
Larrie: [00:09:12] Yes. And, you know, we've seen that firsthand at CCV. It's really wasn't something that I realized that was happening in the beginning days of CCV. When we started CCV in 1982, I was one of the officers that started the corporation, and there has always been part of CCV’s DNA. This spirit of generosity by the senior pastor at that time, which is Don Wilson. And Don made a commitment to our church that we would not ask our people to tithe or give unless we as a church was willing to tithe and give ourselves. And so from day one, we've always tied 10% of the giving to missions. And so I've had the honor of being able to steward that 10%. But as that 10% was given away to our mission partners and to those in needs, it has come back tenfold. That's just how generosity works, right?
Brad: [00:10:17] Absolutely. And you had asked, how does I like Giving today live out its mission? I wanted to start with a story because I just I love that picture. The rock goes into a lake and it ripples out. And so today that rippling out from that bike story is we do it in three ways, through generous business where we engage with good hearted leaders around this country who have a culture of giving, they give and they serve. And so we can learn from them and we help them as an organization, message daily, weekly giving. And that's also through our podcast, The Wow Factor. There's good, good leaders all across the valley here, all across the nation and globe. We want to highlight them. And then Generous Family is our second initiative where we really believe that if a family shares their story, they won't bury their story. And we care a lot about your families and other families that are behind us. You know, your church comes alongside of us as a mission organization to say when families share their story, that legacy and continuation of that story. And so if I could just say one thing, it would be please, for your sake. For your kid’s sake, for Pete's sake, tell your kids where you give and your grandkids where you give and why. And then generous classroom. And this is our biggest initiative where we're so excited about training the next generation to be generous. What would that be like in the 30,000 schools that are just faith based around the nation and then the public schools and then the home school space? We're creating all that product and program to help create lifelong givers.
Larrie: [00:12:11] Mm hmm. Mm hmm. Now, I want to encourage our listeners to please. Listen to the Wow Factor podcast. Now, all of the the podcast will be in our show notes, so you can refer to the show notes to get to to Brad's podcast, but you need to listen to that. It's amazing podcast. In fact, Nancy, our assistant here in Missions, it's her favorite podcast and she is a podcast freak. She listens to podcast 24 seven. She loves the the Wow factor. And I would encourage you to listen to episodes. I think there were 141 to 143 somewhere in there where Brad interviewed Admiral Vern Clark. He was he's a retired admiral who served as a chief of naval operations in the United States Navy, and that interview was fantastic. In fact, Vern Clark is a member of our church. And so it was especially good to hear Brad interview Vern, knowing that we know both of these guys and and listening to to Vern’s story. And then I think an episode either before that or after that was with Brian Mueller, who is the president of Grand Canyon University. And I was just with Brian yesterday and we were talking about generosity. It's so crazy how God lines up these things to happen, Right. You know, one right after another. And Brad was talking about how important it was for ethics to be taught in our grade schools. And so that those ethics and through those ethics, the Christian message could be presented. And of course, generosity is one of those major methods. Tell us a little bit more about how your focus on kids and the message is going out to them.
Brad: [00:13:59] Well, stories, as we know, Jesus used about 57 of them. I didn't count them, but I'm really trusting my source on that in the New Testament to teach us things. What we learned was that teachers were really struggling with kids who were depressed, who were anxious. And then we started looking at God's Word, where it talks about think about things that are pure and right and lovely. And we know that when we're generous with our thoughts towards ourself and others, that it begins to change how we look at the world. You know, we learned through our research that God created us in such a special way that anxiety and gratitude can't live in the brain at the same time. And we're medicating kids. And I'm not going to go too negative, but I'm just going to say let's start with gratitude. I think gratitude is the gateway to generosity. I think when I wake up and I think about three ways that I can be generous every day, and I as we teach these kids, they have 12 lessons that they go through. They don't get carryovers. And you know that because you're into finance. That means that every lesson you get to figure out three new things you're grateful for. There's so much to be grateful for, and you eventually grow into this place of an attitude of gratitude, and then you start to have this happen. I want what I have. I want what I have. And we have entitlement issues with companies. We deal with with families, with kids When we have a contentment and when we're grateful, anxiety goes away. Just try it. And then what we do is we say our content's biblically immersed and it's appropriate.
Brad: [00:15:46] So we want to show kids the power of a story that's relevant for today, connected to God, connected to God's Word, and that a very clear way for them to apply it. So our secret, which isn't going to be a secret after I'm on with your 10,000 plus listeners, is every lesson's designed to bring the generous life message into the home. We want it to be a conversation in the family. We want kids to ask their parents the fun question of. What does generosity to you, Mom and dad? Let's talk about this. Let's talk about where they learned it in their life. Let's make it part of our family culture. And so we do it through the seven ways. Very quickly, generosity of words. We know what that's like to publicly affirm, don't we? And how good that feels. Generous thoughts towards ourself and others. Generous money. That's important. I always say every time I give financially, it softens my heart. I become more like Jesus. Generosity of influence. And our time and our attention. Whoa. We could spend… I could do a whole talk at CCV on a Sunday morning on just generosity of attention, which some say and some of the experts say could be the most important form of generosity to be fully present. And we're so into distracted society, Right? Yours truly being one of them. I'm always looking at my phone and then generosity of how we share our stuff. But that doesn't mean that, you know, just anybody can come to Larrie and ask him for his motorcycle.
Larrie: [00:17:20] Mm hmm. No, no, no one can. There's. There's a motorcycle code, you know?
Brad: [00:17:28] I'm sorry I didn't meet. If I just went somewhere, we should not.
Larrie: [00:17:31] Now, you've got me thinking that, you know, perhaps I should rethink my views on some of those things.
Brad: [00:17:39] So, Larrie, that's the essence of our ministry is that we want to not be prescriptive, but we want to give people ideas.
Larrie: [00:17:47] You know.
Brad: [00:17:48] Get to.
Larrie: [00:17:49] It's so important to role model to our kids. You know, years ago when our first grandchild was born and got old enough to understand what Christmas was all about, we decided to give, everyone of us $25. We still do it every year, and there's 19 of us now. And we get together and my wife and I hand out $25 to every member of the family. And their assignment is to go out and give that away. And so they can give it away to whoever they want. But they have to write a half page paper on that experience. Now, I can tell you that every one of them has more than a half a page. So then on Christmas Eve or excuse me, Christmas morning, we all gather and we read that experience that they had in giving that $25 away. And I can tell you it will be and is today and will continue to be one of the most memorable parts of our year. And the kids today all talk about that act. And so I think there are things that parents can do today to encourage generosity and actually get out there and actually do something that will show generosity. And it comes back. I mean, to this day, now that I think about it. Sometimes I'm asked, “Larrie. What what triggered you into going into the ministry?” And you know, it always go back to an event that happened. At a park here in Phoenix, Cactus Park on 35th Avenue and Cactus.
Larrie: [00:19:33] Many of our listeners know exactly where that park is at. And for some reason that day I pulled into the parking lot and just decided to pray. And I was praying and I looked out and there was a family that was gathered, praying. They were all in a big circle. It was adults that were praying. And something told me to go out and just introduce myself. And I did. And it was a it was a family and a few others that was planning to start a church, but they had no money. And they were praying that God would provide ways and resources for them to get their church started. And they needed $200 to buy mailers to go out into their community. Now, it just so happened that I had received a $200 gift that was stuffed in my Daytimer. And so I went back to the car and there it was. And I opened it up and I pulled the $200 out and I went back and gave it to this this, this family that was praying. And of course, they broke down in tears. And to this day, when I was walking back to the car, I can still remember it as to the impact that that made on me. And it was probably one of the triggers that caused me to think, you know, I need to go into the ministry. I think God is calling me there. So it's funny how those little things stick in your head.
Brad: [00:20:48] So true. Well, you reap what you sow.
Larrie: [00:20:52] So as we as we kind of think about wrapping up here today, what what can people do? What can our listeners do to engage with I Like Giving and its various content in order to grow in the grace of giving.
Brad: [00:21:08] Well, I Like Giving.com as our website, but I really think about how I really think about the quick wins in life. What are what's something I could pick up today after hearing this podcast and I could say I just became aware of the seven ways that I can move from awareness to action, because that's when the fun, that's when the miracles happen. And so I would say, as somebody said on the wow factor, you've got to start to start. You can't steer a parked car and there's no judgment in that. It's just that we are called the grow and the grace of giving. And so we never arrive. And so, what about this idea of taking the gratitude challenge for the next week and saying, Well, the first thing I think about the first 5 minutes of the day is going to set the trajectory for the day. So what if I start with gratitude and then remember, we said gratitude is the gateway to generosity. And now we know the seven different ways we can be generous. So now we're free to play. We're free to do it every day because we can, because we've learned it's not just about a check or thousands of dollars every time.
Brad: [00:22:18] In fact, I'm reminded as we close up of, you know, being someone who travels around the nation, inspiring generosity of being at an airport and walking out of that restroom, thinking to myself, that was the cleanest airport bathroom I've ever been in. And look at most of them aren't. And anybody who travels knows this. There was a guy right outside there with an organized cart, and you could tell he took his job seriously. And I got that nudge. Tell him thank you. And you know what I did? I kept walking because I'm like, That's kind of weird. Why would I talk to the guy cleaning the bathroom? And then I got the nudge again, thank him and give him 20 bucks. Okay. So, you know, I'm a slow learner, so I walk back and I'm supposed to be the giving guy, according to Dave Ramsey, whatever that means. So I go up to this guy said, Sir, I just want to thank you. You did an incredible job cleaning that bathroom. I appreciate a clean bathroom on the road. And I reached out my hand and shook his hand. And I saw that the name patch was blank on his shirt.
Brad: [00:23:25] And I said, I'm Brad. And he said, I'm Conrad. And I said, Oh, Conrad, if you worked for me, your name would be on that shirt. You matter. You're I think you're a good man. Gave him 20 bucks. Tears started to roll down his face and I walked away. And I caught up with my wife at a coffee shop. She's like, What happened? You're glowing. I said, I just went to the bathroom. No, but really, I did say that. And then she said, Well, what? No, really? And I said, I just met Conrad. Who's Conrad? You know, and isn't that interesting? We talked earlier. It comes back. I thought I was going to be the one doing something nice and giving him joy. And I got so much more out of it. And you know what? Later on, I found out that the number one thing with people who clean airport bathrooms polled what they want, they want eye contact and appreciation. So there's the clue phone ringing. Pick it up. If you're traveling, just stop. 2 seconds, 3 seconds. Thank him. You do what's on your heart. But you know what? We can all play every day, can't we?
Larrie: [00:24:33] We can. You know, that's so good. And I'm going to commit to you, Brad, that I'm going to do that my next trip, which will be on Friday, and I'm going to purposely seek out someone to do that very thing to because I think that's amazing.
Brad: [00:24:47] Well, grandpa used to say, get your antenna workin and get it up and be looking. Those opportunities are right in front of you.
Larrie: [00:24:54] So good. You know, when I grow up, I want to be just like you. Brad, I'm telling you, you are so inspiring. And thank you for being on the show today. And I look forward to having you back and your mom back and to doing another podcast with you.
Brad: [00:25:10] Well, Larrie, it's a privilege to be here and it truly feels like a God anointed connection for us. You know, Ashley and I have done multiple giving experiences together where I introduced him to our friends at Hobby Lobby and the way that you guys encourage us in so many ways and support us, there's just something big going on when it's about others. And I feel that through and through with you guys. So I'm so glad to be here in person with you. And it's true. You don't have a lot of hair. Yeah.
Larrie: [00:25:45] Okay. Well, thanks again and we'll look forward to talking with you again, Brad. Thanks a lot.