As Christian parents and teachers, we take seriously the responsibility of fostering generosity in our kids. We understand, rather intuitively, that generosity reflects the very character of God, so when our children learn generosity, they are learning to mirror the person and character of our generous God and King. The task of teaching generosity to our children is not easy, however. Still, it is important, so here are some suggestions for fostering generosity in our kids.
Model Generosity in Your Own Life and Home
Generosity is the kind of thing that is more “caught” than “taught.” If kids grow up observing and living in an environment where generosity is demonstrated, they are much more likely to develop a natural capacity for it. On the other hand, if they are constantly observing selfishness and a “me first” attitude, that’s what they will perceive as normal. This negative spirit places personal desires and priorities above everyone else’s needs and priorities. It’s easy to fall into this pattern of living, but if we’re not careful, we’ll be undermining generosity rather than fostering it.
Reinforce the Principle of Biblical Authority
Children are learning one of the most important lessons of life that can be expressed in one simple question… Who’s really in charge? Unfortunately, many kids are learning that THEY are in charge. This is the case when they get whatever they want, often through manipulation. Not only will this sabotage virtually all of their future relationships, it will inevitably create conflict in their lives as they confront “real life” and discover, unhappily, that they are NOT in charge after all. Learning to respect biblical sources of authority like parents, teachers, and civil authorities will teach them that they’re not in charge. They are not, as it turns out, the center of the universe. Once a child begins to capture this important principle, it’s a short step to seeing that other people have value and deserve our generosity.
Reinforce the Biblical Expectation of Love
Discovering that they are not in charge will also help kids understand that the ultimate authority in all of life is God Himself. God is in charge, not the child. This God expects His people to love other people and treat them with generosity. He expects this for two reasons. First, all people have value and deserve our love and generosity. Second, generosity is actually good for us! Jesus said, “It is more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20:35). The expectations God places on us and our children are always in our best interest. They are never arbitrary. Keep in mind that children are human and will not naturally desire to be generous. As an authority figure in their lives, we need to help them be generous and to appreciate other people.
The biblical expectation of love can be underscored by teaching your kids Bible stories and engaging them in activities that reinforce this point. Sunday School Zone has a good collection of Bible story lessons and free, printable activities that can help with the task of fostering generosity in our kids. Be diligent. Pray often. You’re not in this alone!
Author, Speaker, Bible Teacher
See a list of other articles by Rick Edwards.