By Steve Blumer, Pastor of Family and Adults
Teaching kids to be generous is a skill every parent wants their children to learn. I haven’t met a parent that desires their children to be selfish, not to share, or step on people en route up the corporate ladder. But being generous is not simply giving everything away.
My young kids think everything should be free so if anyone needs something, they can just have it.
And when they grow up and work, they want to give their products away. I have a feeling that may not work out well. So it’s our job as parents to usher them into reality, teach them about being wise in the ways of this world, and being obedient to God’s ways even when the world says it wouldn’t work.
In order to be generous, we need to be wise with the resources that God has blessed us with. Some kids are natural savers. They save until they can buy something more expensive. They are willing to walk by the small stuff and save to get what they really want. Some kids are natural spenders. The moment they get a dollar, they want to run to the store to see what they can get. Some kids are natural givers. They want to buy things for other people, never really saving or spending for themselves. There is value in each of these three ways. All of us must spend our money on something. What are we going to spend it on? Are we going to spend it on the present or on the future? Being financially healthy takes years to develop so we need to start teaching them at an early age about money and ways to properly spend, save, and give.
This past week, we taught the kids in Kids Connect about being Financially Healthy, just like the adults did in the Transformed Series in the spring. We looked at three key passages: Mark 12:41-44; Matthew 6:19-24; 1 Timothy 6:6-19. I’d encourage you to read these. The passage in Mark is the story of the rich man and the widow giving their offerings. Even though the widow gave less quantity, she gave more because it was all she had. She gave sacrificially and displayed her devotion and trust in the Lord. In Matthew, Jesus taught that we shouldn’t collect treasures on earth, but to collect treasures in heaven. The point is that we can either serve God or we can serve money. We can’t serve both. We should use our resources to better serve God and collect long lasting rewards by using our resources to lead people to God’s saving truth. And the passage in Timothy encouraged the young pastor to teach the rich to be generous.
Teaching the rich to be generous means that we first need to teach the rich that they are rich. When I asked the kids whether they were rich or poor, only 2 admitted they were rich, while the rest were split between poor and in between. Once I explained that if they lived in a house and slept in a bed and were able to get clean drinking water and if they had more than 1 meal a day and if their family owned a car, they were some of the richest people in the world, did they all move to the rich side!
Nearly 80% of the world’s population lives on less than $10 a day.
2,000,000 children die every year from preventable diseases like diarrhea and pneumonia, often because of lack of access to clean drinking water and medical treatment. There are lots of ways that we are certainly rich. And let’s not forget about having access to God’s word and the freedom to worship. We are indeed rich!
So parents have the big task of teaching their children the valuable lessons of being generous, storing up treasures in heaven, and being wise when it comes to spending, saving, and giving our resources. The key is that they learn best by example and they are watching you give and being generous.
Here are some ideas about helping your kids think generously:
- Help them go through used toys and clothing (in good condition) and donate to a local charity which helps those in need of such items.
- If possible, give them a weekly allowance or develop a system of doing chores for money so they can develop the value of giving, spending, and saving. Be consistent.
- Take them shopping with their own money. Let them decide how they should spend it. Don’t pay for the extra if they go over. If they don’t have the money, they can’t get it.
- Talk with your children about how “rich” they really are and help them discover what charities they would consider giving their time, talents, and treasures. Maybe it’s sponsoring an international child to go to school and get food for the day, or picking up extra school supplies for children in need. Giving to your local church also supports the teaching of God’s love and supports ministries that share God’s love around the world.
- Let them help you make a meal or dessert to give to a neighbor or a friend in need.
- Collect items for operation Christmas child shoeboxes and plan to help at the Packing Party on October 22 or during collection week. Details at hopechapelsterling.org/occ
What are some resources or ways that you use to teach your children about spending, saving, and giving?