In an age where we can get whatever we want with a click of a mouse on our devices, I think it’s important to teach our children good stewardship principles.
I’ll never forget what one of our daughters said to me shortly after she left for college. “Mom, I sure wish you would have taught me how to budget and manage finances.” Ouch! I guess that one just slipped by. No excuse, other than not being intentional in teaching this important life skill.
I suppose I merely assumed our kids would follow our example by working hard (my husband has always done whatever it takes to pay the bills and put food on our table), by setting aside our tithe (which was taught to us by a pastor who mentored us as young Christians), and to use our resources to help others. As I observe our adult children, I see how much of what we modeled has come to fruition. They are all dedicated workers and they care for the needs of others often above their own needs.
To say we modeled stewardship without any glitches would be inaccurate. There were some areas that we struggled with, especially as credit became a viable option over cash payments. I can still remember searching the house for some lunch money for our kids when we lived totally by faith and within our income. God always provided. Then, before leaving for Bible College in the early 90s, we started receiving credit card offers in the mail. And yes, we followed the status quo by opening and using the plastic cards. This eventually became more of curse than a blessing. Thankfully, God helped us navigate gracefully back to debt-free principles after some challenging circumstances. One of the resources that God has used to help us on this journey is Moneywise, https://moneywise.org/, a Christian ministry that helps people gain financial freedom by following biblical wisdom.
Okay, my conscience is clear. Now, onto the importance of teaching children stewardship principles.
Parents, grandparents, beware! The temptation to give your children and grandchildren everything their little/big hearts desire will come. Guard against this and be ready to say “no” to those things that may easily threaten the future God desires your child to have. One that is guided by His sovereign hand, to purpose what is good and pleasing to the LORD.
“Do not be conformed to this world but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to discern what is the good, pleasing, and perfect will of God” (Romans 12:2).
“Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful” (Joshua 1:8).
First Things First
Teach your children that God is the owner of everything.
“The earth is the LORD’s, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it” (Psalm 24:1).
In the beginning of Genesis, God clearly is the Creator of everything and puts Adam in the Garden to work it and to take care of it. In relationship to stewardship, man was created to work and to take care of God’s creation. We are caretakers and God is the owner.
“The LORD God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it” (Genesis 2:15).
This is the fundamental principle of biblical stewardship. God owns everything, we are simply caretakers on his behalf.
The principle of responsibility
Nothing really belongs to us. God owns everything and we’re responsible for how we take care of what He entrusts to us. We are called as God’s stewards to manage that which belongs to Him. While God has graciously entrusted us with the care, development, and enjoyment of everything he owns as his stewards, we are responsible to follow His principles, will, and purposes.
Kids Learn How to Steward By Doing
I believe the first step in teaching stewardship to children is to teach them good work habits, which correlates to the financial responsibility of money and possessions.
Practical Stewarship for Kids
Assign specific chores (the principle of responsibility). This teaches good work ethic early. Explain to your children that everyone in the family has the responsibility of meeting personal needs and the needs of others. When children don’t have chores they can grow up with a sense of entitlement without responsibility. Unfortunately, we see this in our society today.
To give allowances or not? My personal thoughts on this: I believe kids should be assigned age-appropriate chores that they are responsible for just because they are in the family. For instance, making their beds, folding clothes, taking out the garbage, and helping with the dishes teaches children good stewardship, and it teaches them that taking care of the basic needs of life is what God expects from His children. On the other hand, I think it’s okay to assign children specific chores that they can earn an allowance for. Again, this reinforces a good work ethic and it is a good way to help children understand the precepts of earning money, giving money, saving money, and spending money.
Most recently…I shared with our daughter that I was working on this blog. It was interesting to hear about the ebs and flows of how teaching their children biblical stewardship is working for their family.
Several years ago, our daughter decided to begin teaching their three children biblical stewardship by using money jars. She decorated three jars and labeled them: Give, Save, Spend. Following God’s precept for giving, she has her children set aside the first 10% of their earnings from allowance money, gift money, and other earned money in their Give jar. This is then used to give God His tithe on Sunday mornings at their church. This teaches their children that God comes first and receives their first, not what is left over. The children also give some of their money to missions, as their family supports children who are less fortunate.
About a year ago, our daughter’s husband decided it would be advantagous for each child to have their own bank card (where their earned allowance money, etc. could be deposited and withdrawn as needed). This taking the place of their money jars. After using this method for a while, they’ve decided to return to the money jars, as it helps them visually track their monetary stewardship. At some point they will return to using bank cards when their children are ready to manage their own bank accounts.
During our conversation, we talked through the whole idea of giving children an allowance and the various ways this could happen. We soon shifted our thoughts toward the reason for teaching children how to manage their allowance and other received money. We agreed that the ultimate goal is not so much about teaching children how to manage money (although important) as it is to develop a Christlike character within the child’s heart. Christ is our example, and as we study the Scripture with our children, we see ways that Jesus taught his disciples to live selfless lives by serving and loving others with their time, talent, and resources. Studying the parables of Jesus is a good place to start. See suggested reading below (The Parables of Jesus and Suggested Scripture Reading).
Lead by example
Along with teaching our children to give, we should lead by example. Include your children when giving your time, talent, treasure/money to others. Pray together as a family and ask God to lead you to be a cheerful giver as you determine ways to shower others with what God has so richly blessed you with.
In their Save jars, our grandchildren choose to save their money for a special project, person in need, or for something they’ve had on their wish list.
The Spend jar is one that is used to teach their children that because God owns everything, we are to use our resources to honor Him, especially in our spending habits. My husband/pastor always says, “God is as interested in how we manage the 90% of our income as He is with the 10%…because how we manage the 90% is a better reflection on how we really perceive God as Owner of all.”
God is faithful…God never promises to meet all our wants, but He does promise to always be with us and He does provide for our needs as we trust in Him fully. Several years ago our daughter and family attended the church where my husband was the pastor. During this time I witnessed our daughter write out their tithe check faithfully. She said to me, “I don’t know how we are able to make it, but it always seems to work out.” Lesson learned: As we obey God, He is honored, and we are blessed. This doesn’t always mean that we will receive a financial blessing, but it does mean that our hearts will be at peace knowing that we’ve been obedient.
Prepare children to leave home
As a child becomes old enough, require that they get a job. This will help them budget both their money and their time. Make sure that their job, however, does not jeopardize school or church. While working at a grocery store during high school our daughter was being scheduled to work every Sunday morning. She and another worker brought their concern to their manager, stating that they desired to attend church and worshp with their families on Sunday mornings. The manager honored their request and changed their work schedule for this to happen.
Preparing your child to leave home is a process. One way to help your child succeed on their own is to have them pay for some of their actual needs, at age appropriate increments. Early on, the child could start by using some of their earned money to purchase pet food or their personal sport’s equipment. As they get older, prior to leaving home, the child could start purchasing their own personal toiletries, laundry detergent, gas for their car, etc. This latter thought rang true for our family when our children began working outside the home. They became responsible by paying for much of their car expenses, including some of their car insurance, and later worked during college to pay their living expenses. Lesson behind this. The more we spend unwisely, the less we have to pay for the necessities of life.
With Christmas nearing, one way to help children demonstrate their love for God is by using their money to purchase gifts for others. Samaritan’s Purse Operation Christmas Child https://www.samaritanspurse.org/what-we-do/operation-christmas-child/ offers a simple method of filling a shoebox with Christmas gifts for less fortunate children.
Parables of Jesus
Moneylender Forgives Unequal Debts. A parable concerning God’s gracious forgiveness and how little or much we love God by our actions (Luke 7:36-50).
The Rich Fool. A parable warning not to place material possessions above God (Luke 12:13-21).
Good Samaritan. A parable describing how God expects us to be neighborly to anyone that is in need and we have an opportunity to help (Luke 10:25-37).
Additional Scripture Reading: Colossians 3:23-24, 1 Peter 4:10-11, Proverbs 3:9
Crown Ministry: http://crown.org/ Resources for children and family: https://shop.crown.org/products.aspx?categoryid=55
Renewal Nation: (Offers resources that help children develop a Biblical Worldview.) https://www.renewanation.org/ Check out this resource: The Great Money Adventure — A Bible-based view of money AND a real-life experience of children starting their own business. https://www.renewanation.org/product-page/the-great-money-adventure
Samaritans Purse Operation Christmas Child: https://www.samaritanspurse.org/what-we-do/operation-christmas-child/