Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. -2 Corinthians 9:7
After last Sunday's sermon, I got to thinking more about generosity. I started wondering if I am teaching my children to be generous? Scripture calls us to be generous people, but am I living this out in front of my children? Am giving as I am able? Am I actively teaching my children to do these things? The very best way to teach our children is to lead them by example. Am I doing this adequately?
Last week I was in the car with all three of my children. When I got off of the freeway and stopped at the stoplight, I saw a man sitting on the corner with a sign that said "anything helps". I grabbed my wallet and pulled out the few dollar bills that I had. I rolled my window down and handed the dollar bills to the man. He smiled and said, "God bless you." My five year old didn't see me hand him the dollar bills, but she did hear what he said. She asked me why he came up to our car and blessed us so I explained the situation to her. She had tons of questions and we actually sat in the car long after we had pulled into our driveway talking about why it's important to help others and be generous.
Through our conversation we were able to talk about how God calls us to be generous. That when we are able, we are to help those who are not. My daughter started spouting off ways that she could be generous and I was amazed by how quickly she understood the concept. She was excited about being generous! I hadn't planned on our conversation, but was able to teach her an important life lesson because she pays attention to my example.
Generosity in its most basic form is sharing. As parents, we always encourage our children to share (and beg and plead and threaten that they must share!!)! But when we move beyond that, how do we teach them to be truly generous? To give beyond what they are able?
I started brainstorming and researching ways to encourage my children to be truly generous. I was surprised by how quickly I came up with a handful of ideas that are both meaningful and realistic. I hope so much that you find an activity or two from this list that you can implement with your children!
My kids love books, so I was excited to find this book list which includes books about simplicity and generosity. I ordered my kids the book Have You Filled a Bucket Today? and I can't wait to read it with them.
I love this article that gives several ways that you can serve with your children. In the article it reminds us to serve in our churches! It is so important that our children see us as servants in our local church and that we find ways to include them!
My two daughters (5 and almost 3) love doing sticker charts. They get stickers for positive behavior and use those stickers like currency to get a small toy or outing. Because positive reinforcement works so well for them, I was started thinking about a kindness jar. Basically you would get a small jar or cup (a mason jar would be perfect) and set it somewhere where everyone can see it. Every time someone in the family is generous or kind, they get to put a pom pom in the jar. Family members can put pom poms in the jar when they see another family member being generous or kind. When you fill the jar, you get to do something fun as a family (like go out for ice cream). The concept is simple and could easily be adapted to fit your families needs!
If you have an older child, please read this post with them! The post includes eight stories about kids who saw a need in the world and set out to fix it. A truly inspiring post!
A few other practical ideas...
- donating to a food shelter
-taking food or toys to an animal shelter
-going through clothes and donating ones that no longer fit
-making cookies for local law enforcement
-writing thank you notes
-asking older siblings to serve their younger siblings (with their time and abilities)
-cleaning up your local playground
You could easily involve your children in all of these activities and they would gain so much from the experiences!
It is important to remember that while we are raising our children, we are also discipling them. Scripture calls us to be generous and this is a trait we must pass on to our children. We can so easily include our children in acts of generosity and kindness, so why not?! Each small act can mean so much!!