My wife recently bought me a book of quotations from Mother Teresa of Calcutta. If you can find such a book I encourage you to get one. Teach your children to be generous the same way you teach them anything.
Children are amazing. They can be taught amazing things. Children can be taught to kick a soccer ball, set a volleyball, and hit a golf ball. Children can be taught to play the violin, skate forward and backward, and operate a handheld electronic device. Children can also be taught to be generous and to put the needs of others before their own. Children can be taught to appreciate what they have. Children can be taught to share.
If our children are going to be generous then generosity needs to be the lifestyle and cultural value of our home. Generosity does not just happen by wishing or wanting it. Generosity needs to be as high a passion and priority as the other high passions and priorities of your life. Generosity takes work and effort.
Mother Teresa was a generous woman. We need to highlight and profile generous people in our children’s life. Children look up to pro athletes, actors and actresses, and musicians. Children should also be encouraged to look up to generous people.
There used to be a commercial with Michael Jordan. The jingle went like this: “I want to be, I want to be, I want to be like Mike.” Can you imagine children wanting to be like Mother Teresa or someone like her?
Ask yourself right now, “What kind of person do you want your child to grow up to be?” Would you like your children to be good at sports or music, math or science? What if you were to say, “I want my child to be a generous person.”
For you and me to raise generous children requires more than a casual conversation or a handful of change in the Salvation Army bucket at Christmas. We need to help our children set tangible and sacrificial goals with clear objectives that benefit others in need. Our children will benefit from knowing that they are blessed beyond measure and that their generosity makes a difference in the lives of others.
Here are three ways I have taught my children to be generous. I want to stress, however, that generosity is not just doing projects and generous things. Generosity is being a generous person from the inside out.
1. At birthdays, do not have children bring gifts for your child. Rather, pick a charity or a disaster relief and have children bring monetary gifts or food items to be given away.
2. Have your children mow lawns or shovel the snow off walks for free.
3. Teach your children to budget their money with a set percentage always to be given away. Start small, like 1 or 2 % with the objective of reaching a goal of 5% or 10% or more.
Children watch what we do more than listen to what we say. Teach with both actions and words to effectively promote generosity in your children.
This post first appeared on the Good Dads blog December 5, 2016. We liked it so much, we thought it worth repeating.
Jeff Sippy, a Dad-In-Training, is the father of three young men and the husband of Cindy. He enjoys sailing every chance that he gets. He is the senior pastor at Redeemer Lutheran in Springfield, MO and can be reached for question or comment at firstname.lastname@example.org