Teach your children (to give) well

I have to chuckle when non-church folks trot out as something new, a bit of wisdom that’s well-known and long-followed in religious circles. Consider for example an article from Reuters Wealth highlighting the role of parents in shaping kids as “charity champions.”   

The writer’s advice to moms and dads? Generous is as generous sees.

Perhaps the most important part of developing a strategy is to model the behavior for your kids. How can you ask your kids to become involved in charitable actions if you’re not doing it yourself? Talk about the charities you donate to and why you contribute. Get your kids to talk about what interests and inspires them.

In other words, “start children off on the way they should go, and even when they are old they will not turn from it.” (Proverbs 22:6)

Over the years, I’ve been blessed by stories of godly parents and grandparents who both talked the talk and walked the walk of generosity. This includes the following vignette from Growing Givers’ Hearts: Treating Fundraising as Ministry.

A woman recalled learning about tithing from her grandfather via the “tater” story, the tale of a poor farmer who at the time of harvest, counted out his potatoes into two piles: nine for market and one for God, nine for market and one for God. Looking at the meager pile that was God’s, the farmer exclaimed, “But how can I do less than give one li’l tater to God?”

“I’ve never forgotten that story,” the woman said, “and I’ve made God’s taters a priority in my life.”

I thank God for the lessons in generosity that my siblings and I received from our dad.  Bringing up seven children on a pastor’s salary, he was likely tempted to hold back a tater or two – but he never did. He gave joyfully off the top of his paycheck and he boldly encouraged others to do the same. My mother recalls with pride that our little church in Arnold, Nebraska, was the top contributor (per capita) in the state to American Baptist missions most years that Dad was in the pulpit.

One of my treasures is The Grace of Giving, a book I selected from my father’s library following his death. Among the highlighted passages is this: “If believers are not taught a scriptural doctrine of stewardship, can they be expected to give intelligently and can they be expected to realize that giving is indeed as vital a spiritual ministry as witnessing, reading the Bible, and praying?”

Parents, teach your children well. Generosity matters.

What's your take on this topic?

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