After church one Sunday night, David and I went out to grab some tacos with some friends from church. The kids had another car, so they decided to stay at church and play ball in the gym with some other families for a while… pizza was even provided by one of the families. 🎉
While we were hanging out and enjoying time with friends, my phone rang. It was Camden calling to tell us that they had had a blowout and were safe on the side of the road, but their spare was giving them issues. They needed help. I assured them we’d be right there, and David and I made an abrupt exit.
When we pulled up on their car, we found all 4 of them gathered around a homeless man who happened by. They had given him the rest of the pizza they were bringing home and what was left of a 2-liter from their time at church. They had been telling him about Jesus as they shared their food.
I would be dishonest if I didn’t tell you that my heart almost stopped as I came upon my young teens in a dark alley with a homeless man. I tried to cover that as I calmly walked up to see exactly what was going on and to try to get my girls to what I deemed safety as quickly as possible.
What happened next both caused joy and conviction all at the same time. The man they had been talking to started talking to me as David and the boys started working on the car.
“People don’t look at me as a person, ma’am. How did you raise your kids to do that? They talked to me like nothing was out of the ordinary. People don’t do that, ma’am.”
My heart was pricked as I learned yet another lesson from my children— about loving God and showing His love to all people and about being willing to give without a second thought.
I have learned much from them through the years. I have watched them over and over give everything they have to others. I have watched them stay behind to help elderly ladies who were in Israel with us. I have watched them share their faith boldly by engaging in conversations with complete strangers. I stand amazed at how God has grown them and how He is shaping them into His image even at their young age.
As so often happens, I can see in my “rear-view mirror” some little things we did as we prayed that God would direct us as parents. He has multiplied those simple ideas much like He did the young boy’s loaves and fishes, for our feeble efforts and little offering are much in the Master’s hands.
As we’re heading into a season where the focus is going to shift to giving, I wanted to share some ideas for ways to instill a love of giving in your children.
This is such a small list, but I hope it gets your creative juices flowing for ways you can really focus on instilling a selflessness and a love of giving in your own children.
Practical tips for this time of year to help cultivate a giving heart
• Give them opportunities to earn money to buy gifts for others by themselves. When our children were young, we’d often do this by putting out reading jars and giving different amounts of money for different amounts read or by giving them additional jobs they can do around the house to earn money, etc. They ould generally start earning their gift-giving money around the first of October, and we’d all go out in a big shopping night together where they could sneak around the store and spend their money. Those were some of the BEST evenings of their childhood. 🙂 Even now that they’re older and have their own jobs, they spend so much time and money working on the gifts they give to the people they love. It’s awesome to see them living out the biblical truth that it’s more blessed to give than to receive.
• Make things and take them out to people in the neighborhood (at holiday times, especially)— we’d take baskets of bread and apple butter or something. Just to have a reason to visit, build relationships with, and bless our neighbors.
• Make small ornament crafts to give to check out attendants when you’re shopping. Those candy cane ornaments from Oriental Trading even come with a short gospel tract— or they used to. 😀
• Pack an Operation Christmas Child Shoebox. We did this many years while they were growing up, and I was always amazed at how personal it was to the kids. Each of them were able to pack a shoebox for a boy or girl, and they thought so hard about what to put in it. They prayed for the child. It was as if they could literally see them in their mind’s eye. They got great joy out of thinking what God could do through their gift in that child’s life. It was also a great conversation starter about how God has blessed them and modeling thanksgiving. (We loved this so much and believe it is such a great discipleship tool for families that we’re actually partnering with Operation Christmas Child this year to see how many shoeboxes TTD families can pack… I’ll give you more details about that soon, but I actually talked to a Shoebox recipient on our most recent podcast, and I can’t encourage you enough to listen to that episode with your children. It was incredible to get a vision for how lives are impacted through that ministry– and how you and your children can participate in it. Click here to listen to that now–– or better yet, listen to it through the Teach Them Diligently app!! )
Make giving a priority. Model it. Celebrate it. Make it something that belongs to your children. Help them understand how God can use them right where they are— right now— as they show His love to others. That goes a long way towards their making their faith very personal and strong, and I promise you’ll see those seeds grow in your children as they become teenagers.
I’d love to hear your ideas and things you’ve done to instill a love of giving in your children. Leave a comment below to share those ideas with us.
With love 💕 and prayers,
|PS— Please don’t forget that the discount codes from the Launch Party expire on Tuesday, September 29. If you RSVPd for the party and shared it, you should have received discount codes ranging from $10-$25. Search your inbox!! If you didn’t, you can still save $9!! Use discount code 2021LAUNCHPARTY. Click here to find an event near you and register today!|