As parents, many of us go to great lengths to ensure that our children and youths get the best of everything. We sign them up for hockey camps, music and snowboarding lessons, swim teams, tutors and after-school clubs, all in an effort to guarantee their success.
But many of us don’t teach our children biblical stewardship. I don’t mean to say that we don’t practise biblical stewardship or that by our example we don’t live out our faith in front of our children. But how often do we talk to our children about financial stewardship from a biblical perspective?
For so many of us, we focus on the tangible, rather than the intangible. We focus on them scoring a goal or hitting the bull’s eye.
Recently in my church, we had a special month of offerings to help pay down our mortgage. The leadership shared its vision for the church and gave very compelling reasons for us to pay down the mortgage early, and the funds came in. Nathaniel, my 12-year-old son, came home from church that day excited and announced that he needed a ride to the bank.
The excitement didn’t last long, though. When he arrived home from youth group later that week, he was confused. “Why didn’t they talk about this at youth?” he asked. “The benefits sounded great when they presented to the adults. Why didn’t the youth know more about this?” After just a few weeks, his excitement turned to frustration. “Do they think we don’t care about the church? Do they think our gifts won’t make a difference?”
My son contributed a few hundred dollars he earned from his newspaper route, but couldn’t get over the fact that no one ever considered sharing the challenge to give with the youths. Our children need us to model a life of faithful stewardship by our actions. They also need us to explain what we are doing and why.
In addition to this, our churches need to include our children and youths in stewardship education and give them the opportunity to be involved. After all, we want them to develop good stewardship habits now that will last them a lifetime.
A practice that we started recently was to involve Nathaniel in all of our charitable giving decisions. At first, we questioned how he would react to giving what in his world would be very large amounts of money. To our surprise, he quickly gave his input. His only disappointment was the tough decision of which charities we wouldn’t support.
Our children naturally want to help. They see a need and they want to respond. Society teaches us to store up our treasures on earth and this will bring happiness. The Bible teaches us to store up treasures in heaven.
Are we missing the mark with our children and youths? Our youths need and want to be involved in the church. If we don’t help them become involved in the joy of giving to support the work of the church, I believe we are both miss-ing the mark and short-changing them spiritually.
Donald Brooker is a stewardship consultant at the St. Catharines, Ont., office of Mennonite Foundation of Canada (MFC). For stewardship education and estate and charitable gift planning, contact your nearest MFC office or visit MennoFoundation.ca.