Raising kids to be givers in a gimme age

By Randy Alcorn
Eternal Perspectives Ministry
Sandy, Oregon

The next generation is growing up amid—and inheriting—vast wealth. Even many children in Christian families don’t see their parents give and are not taught and encouraged to give themselves. So they become keepers and accumulators, and essentially self-preoccupied materialists. They see the world as about themselves and expect to receive more and more things, appreciating them less and less.

With no vision for the joy of giving and of investing in eternity, they can’t see that God’s purpose for prospering them is not so they can live in luxury, but so they can help others, support their churches, aid the poor, and reach the lost with the gospel.

One of the best gifts we can give our children is to include them in our family giving decisions and instill in them the giving habit, and a vision for giving. Show them options and ask them to choose the one that sounds best for the family to send a special gift to. Get them involved by giving them ownership, working on projects, and earning money to give to the needy.

Giving shouldn’t be an add-on elective to the spiritual life; it should be a required course at the very core of life’s curriculum. If our children don’t learn about giving from us, then who will teach them?

Consider taking your kids on a missions trip. When our daughters were nine and seven, we took them on a two-month trip visiting missionaries in six countries. They have never forgotten it and it helped shaped their vision for Jesus and the world. So did sponsoring children through Compassion, who they corresponded with.

Consider these Scriptures:

– Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it (Proverbs 22:6).

– Teach them to your children and to their children after them (Deuteronomy 4:9).

– I have chosen him, so that he will direct his children and his household after him to keep the way of the Lord by doing what is right and just (Genesis 18:19).

– What we have heard and known, what our fathers have told us. We will not hide them from their children; we will tell the next generation the praiseworthy deeds of the Lord, his power, and the wonders he has done. He decreed statutes . . . and established the law . . . which he commanded our forefathers to teach their children, so the next generation would know them, even the children yet to be born, and they in turn would tell their children. Then they would put their trust in God and would not forget his deeds but would keep his commands (Psalm 78:3-7).

Many people who want their children to develop hearts for God overlook the one thing that Jesus explicitly says will move our children’s hearts toward Heaven—giving our earthly treasures resulting in treasures in Heaven. Jesus says our hearts will follow those treasures (Matthew 6:19-21).

Our children, and in my case grandchildren, need to be shown the joy of giving and taught the discipline of giving.

In order to enhance their giving and overall stewardship, they should also be taught to avoid debt and control spending. Our duty to our children is clear: “Bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord” (Ephesians 6:4). Giving is not just taught, but caught. If they see us giving and see us finding joy in giving, they will follow our lead.

In the movie Chariots of Fire, Olympian Eric Liddell says, “I believe God made me for a purpose . . . and when I run, I feel his pleasure.” When they give, our children are acting like Jesus. They should see our pleasure in our giving and in theirs—and learn to feel God’s pleasure when they give.

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