How do we teach our kids to be generous? It may seem nerdy or cliche, but the question that comes to my mind is, “What would Jesus do?”
One of my favorite scriptures is from Luke 21:1-4, “He looked up and saw the rich dropping their offerings into the temple treasury. He also saw a poor widow dropping in two tiny coins.“Truly I tell you,” he said, “this poor widow has put in more than all of them. For all these people have put in gifts out of their surplus, but she out of her poverty has put in all she had to live on.”
Boom, there it is! We can simply choose to be generous just as God was so very generous with us when he sent Jesus to die on the cross for you and for me! While I may not have always made the best choices when it comes to having a generous heart, I learned a few things along the way from other wise parents as Greg and I raised Adam and Nate.
When the boys were young, Greg and I committed to modeling what it meant to have generous hearts through serving. Whether it was serving at our church, a local food pantry, a soup kitchen in downtown Detroit, or simply dropping off a meal to a friend in need. They also saw firsthand what it meant for others to show our family generosity and serve us, when Greg had cancer and went through three surgeries with many weeks of treatments, or when their PaPa came to live with us for a few years as he suffered from Dementia. Those opportunities to serve and our life circumstances have shown our boys how they too can have generous hearts as they grow into adulthood.
Another way to teach your kids to have a generous heart is to tithe a portion of your income to the church. If I’m being honest, it wasn’t an easy commitment to make in the beginning. Greg and I went from a two-income family to one when I resigned from my job to stay home and raise Adam and Nate. Money was tight back then and tithing just seemed like one more thing that our small budget couldn’t handle. But it became important to both of us as our relationship with Jesus grew stronger.
Parents, you should have a conversation with your kids about tithing. You don’t have to get specific with your personal finances, but look up scripture together and model for them what it means to have a generous heart. Why? Because Jesus modeled it throughout scripture. In 2 Corinthians 9, Paul reminds us that “Each person should do as he has decided in his heart – not reluctantly or out of compulsion, since God loves a cheerful giver.”
When your kids are old enough, let them start earning an allowance or commission. A good starting point is to label three plastic containers – Spend, Save and Give. You’ll want to encourage them to spend their money wisely, but also to give generously with what they earn. As they earn a commission, help them set goals with how they’ll spend what they’ve earned, save some for a rainy day, and then give some to a charity of their choice. Another great tool to use is the 242 Kids Chore Chart (linked below), which helps keep them organized and tracks their progress.
Parents, your kids don’t have to be rich to give generously. But, giving generously will make us rich on the inside and that generous heart posture will be a shining light for Jesus that stretches as far as the east is from the west!
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