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Teaching Children Biblical Stewardship Principles

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.

Money Jars

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

Resource Websites

MoneyWise: https://moneywise.org/

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/

 

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Producing Empty Results?

Do you ever feel that your efforts are useless or produce empty results? I think we’ve all been there, right? It can happen at the workplace, in the home, on the golf course, or anywhere. We are all hardwired to achieve success when we set out to accomplish a task.

rosesMost recently, I diligently tried to revive my roses from all the damage they received due to a deluge of rain. To no avail, after spraying with anti-fungal product and mulching, etc., my roses still look pitiful, producing puny-looking blooms. Sometimes our best efforts result in poor or even empty results.

Obviously, producing beautiful fungi-free roses is not as crucial as raising spiritually healthy children. As much as I enjoy the beauty of a bountiful array of roses, my greatest joy comes from experiencing our children and grandchildren growing in the knowledge and wisdom of the LORD.

Sometimes my best efforts for transferring a strong faith in Jesus to my family ends up feeling empty, or at least less fruitful in my perception. For instance, this past year I started a drama/music ministry with our grandchildren. We named it Lights Shine Bright. They were excited to share their talents at nursing homes and churches. My grandeur plans also included presenting at a low-income children’s center. Seemingly, the door closed due to scheduling conflicts, and yes, I felt like my efforts came up empty. My desire is to see our grandchildren use their gifts and talents for the glory of the LORD, while sharing the love of Jesus with others.

cast netI’m pretty sure the Apostle Peter felt as though his efforts were futile while fishing all night without even getting a nibble. This miraculous fishing story is recorded in the Gospel of John (John 2:1-14): Later, by the Sea of Tiberias, Jesus again revealed Himself to the disciples. He made Himself known in this way: Simon Peter, Thomas called Didymus, Nathanael from Cana in Galilee, the sons of Zebedee, and two other disciples were together. Simon Peter told them, “I am going fishing.”

“We will go with you,” they said. So they went out and got into the boat, but caught nothing that night.

Early in the morning, Jesus stood on the shore, but the disciples did not recognize that it was Jesus. So He called out to them, “Children, do you have any fish?”

“No,” they answered.

He told them, “Cast the net on the right side of the boat, and you will find some.” So they cast it there, and they were unable to haul it in because of the great number of fish.

Then the disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, “It is the Lord!” As soon as Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he put on his outer garment (for he had removed it) and jumped into the sea. The other disciples came ashore in the boat. They dragged in the net full of fish, for they were not far from land, only about a hundred yards.

When they landed, they saw a charcoal fire there with fish on it, and some bread.

Jesus told them, “Bring some of the fish you have just caught.” So Simon Peter went aboard and dragged the net ashore. It was full of large fish, 153, but even with so many, the net was not torn.

“Come, have breakfast,” Jesus said to them. None of the disciples dared to ask Him, “Who are You?” They knew it was the Lord. Jesus came and took the bread and gave it to them, and He did the same with the fish.

This was now the third time Jesus appeared to the disciples after He was raised from the dead.

Take-aways from the truth of God’s Word

  1. Listen for God’s direction or leading in our lives, especially when our personal efforts seem empty.
  • Initially, the disciples didn’t recognize Jesus on the shore. Then Jesus spoke these words: “Children, do you have any fish?”
  1. Follow God’s instructions. / Obey His commands.
  • After hearing His voice, the disciples followed these instructions: “Cast the net on the right side of the boat, and you will find some.”

The outcome: “So they cast it there, and they were unable to haul it in because of the great number of fish.”

  1. Recognize God when He draws near. “None of the disciples dared to ask Him, “Who are You?” They knew it was the Lord.”

The disciples knew it was the LORD because they had spent three years developing an intimate relationship with Him.

The only way we can know it is the LORD is by spending time with Him. This happens primarily by…

Developing these spiritual disciplines:

  1. Reading the Bible
  2. Prayer
  3. Seeking God through quieting the noise of the world (Unplug!)
  4. Fellowship with other Christ followers
  5. Worship through a Bible-teaching/preaching church

These spiritual disciplines are more often caught than taught to our observing children and grandchildren. When is that last time your children/grandchildren caught you reading your Bible, kneeling next to your bed in prayer, turning off your cell phone while experiencing the beauty of God’s amazing creation (beginning with your family…sharing an uninterrupted meal together), worshiping together on the LORD’s Sabbath?

Remember, there are times God wants to redirect our efforts to reflect more of His holiness in our lives and within the lives around us. Our greatest need is to recognize the LORD in our midst rather than experiencing mere human successes.

lights shine bright

Lights Shine Bright

I’m praying to God and listening for Him to speak to me about our Lights Shine Bright ministry. One of my grandsons keeps asking me, “When are we going to do our program again?” Thus, I am exploring our options and watching for God to lead the way.

Thoughts and Scripture to ponder

God may be asking you to let go of your preferred “fishing” style and be ready to cast your net on the “right” side. Follow God’s direction and be amazed at the results you will “catch!”

“Choose my instruction instead of silver,
knowledge rather than choice gold, for wisdom is more precious than rubies,
and nothing you desire can compare with her” (Proverbs 8:10-11).

“Now then, my children, listen to me;
blessed are those who keep my ways.
Listen to my instruction and be wise;
do not disregard it. Blessed are those who listen to me,
watching daily at my doors,
waiting at my doorway.
For those who find me find life
and receive favor from the Lord” (Proverbs 8:32-35).

“You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart” (Jeremiah 29:13).

The definition of insanity:

“Doing the same thing over and over again but expecting different results.” – Albert Einstein

This quote is simply a reminder to stop repeating the same human efforts that continually produce empty results. Instead, listen to and follow the LORD’s direction, for He is the One who transforms the heart and produces a great catch.

For further study:

John 15:1-17; 1 Corinthians 3:7; Mark 4:1-20

 

 

 
 

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Life is but a Vapor

“You do not know what will happen tomorrow. For what is your life?

It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away” (James 4:14).

 “Ella Volunteer Homeless ShelterIt certainly adds weight to the scripture’s characterization, life is like a vapor.” This is the response I received  from a friend after notifying him of a mutual friend’s tragic death. It made me pause, then reflect upon my life. Have I been wasting much precious time with things that don’t really matter? Yes, I’ll be honest, I have spent way too many moments with worry, over thinking, harboring ill-thoughts toward others, spending money I don’t have on things I don’t need (or at times, even like), trying to figure out the end results, and so on.

Our most recent losses:

  • A friend, who was a loving father, grandfather, and faithful Christian.

  • Our friend’s son who died from cancer this past year. At the same time, she made the difficult decision to place her husband* into a nursing home.

    * Charlie, a dear man, who led many souls to Jesus, including my husband. Charlie selflessly visited the lonely and forgotten at nursing care facilities and homes for the disabled. Now, as his life draws near, he is the one in need of love and care. His dear wife Marilyn provides this for him, during her daily and tiring visits.

These most recent losses fill me with deep sorrow and thoughtfulness, as I ponder my own impending death; when God chooses to take me to my “forever” home.

Our oldest daughter and her husband recently moved into their new home, which took nearly a year to build. Jennifer recently told me that she didn’t mind all the extra effort and resources they poured into their new house, because it will be their “forever” home. I like that!  We, who call ourselves Christians, should have the same outlook, as we plan and co-labor with Christ, building the Kingdom of God, our forever home.

I recommit my life to wholly living for Christ and His Church. Help me, God, to prioritize my life according to Your will and purpose in my life.

TRAINING CHILDREN AND GRANDCHILDREN TO EMBRACE LIFE WITH A SENSE OF GRATITUDE, THANKFULNESS, AND AS FAITHFUL STEWARDS, MAY BE CHALLENGING TO MOST AMERICAN CHRISTIANS.

Let’s not only prepare our children for academic excellence, playing sports, and securing a good-paying job, but let’s help them realize their life’s purpose:  To use their gifts and talents for the glory of God.  

I recently spent a day volunteering at a homeless shelter with our oldest granddaughter. It was a very rewarding experience. My prayer is to have more of these kinds of opportunities with all my grandchildren…to serve others in the name of Jesus.

It’s important to teach our children (age-appropriate) about death. I’ll never forget when our now 10-year-old granddaughter began asking me this question, “How does Jesus take people to heaven when they die?” After trying to explain, Ella profoundly stated, “I know, Jesus carries people to heaven with balloons.” Since then, when a loved one passes away, we release balloons. When Jesus takes me home to heaven, I hope to have a large bouquet of rainbow-colored balloons released on a warm summer day.

Similarly, our 5-year-old grandson recently said goodbye to one of his pet ducks that was born with a birth defect. Jack named him Donald and was quite attached to this little white-feathered creation. Jack is beginning to realize there is a time to be born and a time to die. His parents took this opportunity to explain death and eternity to Jack. They also had a burial for Donald and placed a little wooden cross on his grave.

Having experienced the death of both of my parents by age 7, I fully understand the importance of talking to children about death, and eternal life. 

I came across this article from Scripture Union: Talking with your children about Death… Issues to think about.

Based on and adapted from: Children and Grieving (SU) J Goodall 1995

http://www.scriptureunion.org.uk/Families/Parents/Talkingabout/Death/1200.id

Celebration Ideas for Grandparents Day, Sept. 7.

http://www.grandparentingwithapurpose.com/2014/07/celebration-ideas-for-grandparents-day-sept-7/

 

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