The most fundamental lesson any child can learn about finances—even more important than saving—is the lesson of giving. As parents, we should teach our children to give. This is more than simply taking our own money and handing it to our child to put in the offering. In such cases the child isn’t giving—she’s simply delivering our gift. In order for it to really be giving, it must come from what actually belongs to the child.
The holy habit of giving is like the holy habits of Bible study and prayer and witnessing and hospitality. These things need to be integrated into our lifestyle. Those not raised in a home where they learn this are at a great disadvantage later trying to develop new habits as adults. Children raised in giving families would no sooner stop giving than brushing their teeth.
One man wrote to me, “My wife and I have taught our kids from the earliest days to be regular givers to God and his kingdom purposes. Our family has been blessed with four young adults who love Jesus, and I believe that our faithfulness in giving has contributed to that. God’s returns are not always financial.” Nanci and I can attest to the same thing about our grown daughters, Karina and Angela, and their families.
When I asked a group to share their giving stories, Daniel J. Arnold told me, “Giving to the glory of the Lord Jesus Christ and the expansion of his kingdom on earth has become the common purpose of our family, our co-mission. We test the will of God for us in prayer and come together in agreement on every gift. Giving enters us into a life of faith and trust in God.” Like everything else in the home, stewardship is caught as much as taught.
What are some practical ways you can pass the pleasure of giving on to your children? I recommend that families get involved together in special missions projects. Family members can work together to financially support, pray for, and correspond with a missionary, a needy family, or an overseas orphan. Becoming aware of needs elsewhere reminds our children of the incredible abundance in America and our opportunity to share it with the needy.
In this 4-minute video, I share a story about one of my daughters, and talk about the joy of having children who have an eternal perspective about money and giving:
[The righteous] are always generous and lend freely; their children will be a blessing. (Psalm 37:26, NIV)