Instilling Generosity in our Children

Generosity is one of the greatest attributes we can pursue. Generosity is admired and appreciated by people all over the world. It touches our hearts. In fact,the plot of most Christmas movies somehow involves a moral lesson that extols the greatness of generosity. Our hearts are warmed to see greedy Mr. Scrooge choose to become a generous, helpful friend to Bob Cratchet. We agree and think, “of course”, when his demeanor turns from sour to joyful. When we watch the life struggles of George Bailey in, “It’s a wonderful life”, we relate to his struggle with putting off his dreams in order to help his family and neighbors in need. George dreams of doing important things with his life, but feels that he never gets there and begins to sink into despair as he convinces himself that he has become a failure. When the angel begins to reveal the impact of George’s lifelong generous sacrifices for others our hearts soar to realize that generosity is not just for those with lots of money. Being generous with our love, time, and talents can have a huge impact as well. This appreciation of generosity springs from somewhere deep within us known as “the image or imprint of God”.

When God created humans, He placed some of Himself in us. Not that we are “mini-Gods”, that is a wrong way to think of it. Rather, He placed an ability in us to recognize Him, appreciate Him, and a desire to model ourselves after Him. This can be seen in many ways like: appreciation for creativity and art, appreciation of the wonder of nature, an appreciation of noble character qualities, and an appreciation of others…especially a desire to reach out to those in need. This, after all, is exactly what God did when He sent His Son, Jesus to pay the penalty for our sins thus ransoming us from the captivity of the evil one. Generosity is a quality that flows from the fountain of God’s nature and He created us with a unique ability to recognize it and be stirred by it. In case you are not sure, think about it, can a dog, cat, lion, fish, or bird even comprehend let alone appreciate and emulate the concept of generosity. No! This is a unique gift to humans! To make the point a little further, consider that the Bible highlights the generosity of Abraham, David, Abigail, the early church, and Cornelius while also pointing out the lack of generosity of Laban, Nabal, the rich young ruler, and Judas Iscariot. God is telling us that generosity is an important quality to learn!
So, if we are going to instill this great quality in our children, we need to dispel some incorrect thinking first:
Generosity is not only for those with lots of money. Time and talents are valuable commodities to be given. Also, small financial gifts from a generous heart are valued by God – remember the widow’s mite pointed out by Jesus(Luke 21:1-4).
Generosity is not an emotion. Generosity is a choice made carefully and intentionally. When we wait until we are in the mood to be generous, we won’t likely get in the mood.
Generosity is not a personality type nor is it a part of the DNA of certain people. It is a quality that requires deliberate development by choice. Generosity can be learned. Childhood is the best time to teach generosity.
The time to start is now. If we wait for everything to get “right” to get started, we likely will never start.
Fear is the biggest enemy of generosity. Learn to overcome the fear of giving by memorizing: Proverbs 11:24-“One man gives freely, yet gains even more;another withholds unduly, but comes to poverty.” Luke 6:38 -“ Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.

Here are a few ideas to help kick start your journey of instilling generosity in your children:
Make it a family habit, not simply instruction
Teach your children about giving to God’s work. Explain that you are a faithful giver to support God’s work. Encourage them to develop the habit of giving 10% of their income to support Gospel work especially in the local church. Introduce them to missionaries and encourage them to give to help them. Our generosity should start here from a heart of gratitude for all God has done for us.
Look for opportunities to help someone in need and include your children in your plan to help them. On the way home, talk to them about how important the help was for the recipient and how good it feels to help someone. Your local church is a great place to find volunteer opportunities.
Show them how to be generous with kindness in the world by teaching them to do simple, yet powerful things like: smile at others, greet those that you meet, hold doors open for others, choose to be helpful. Unfortunately, this will have to be tempered with safety instructions to keep them safe in this dangerous world. I suppose the best instruction is to be helpful only in open, public places with people around and never go anywhere with a stranger.
Remember, your entire family will benefit from family generosity projects. Once you make the decision to start, the opportunities and fun will begin to flow carrying your family to amazing experiences.
You are equipping your children to live a life filled with the joy of blessing others that leads to freedom from depression and selfishness.

So, let’s get started Instilling Generosity in our children!