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Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Raising Generous Kids

          One of my favorite things about the writer's life is meeting other authors. Jill Richardson is a Christian author I met unintentionally when I stumbled across her Facebook page.
         As you can tell from her following guest blogpost, she leads quite the interesting life. I haven't read any of her five published books yet, but after I dig myself out of the hole of critiques, book reviews and baby shower presents/meals that I owe people, (oh and the ever growing laundry monstrosity;), I really want to read her books.
      In the following post, Jill gives some awesome tips on how to teach generosity to your kids. As the mom of a two-year-old who currently thinks "sharing" is a 4-letter-word, I'm taking notes. :)

Raising Generous Kids: Teaching Kids Servant Hearts  in an  Entitled World
by Jill Richardson
When we took our three kids on a mission trip twelve years ago, I didn't expect to become an expert on raising kids who serve generously. Seriously—at that point I was concentrating on raising kids who survived our family's particular brand of insanity.

Through the wonder of watching our kids' compassion and courage blossom while holding the hand of an abandoned orphan 6500 miles from our home, I learned. Raising generous kids—generous with both time and resources—is a goal most Christian parents have. But it's an art whose technique not many understand.

Art is complex—but here are three ways, mindsets really, that will help parents in their goal.

 Start Small

You don't have to travel to China right away. (But hey, if you like a challenge, go for it. You won't be sorry.) You don't have to commit to one thing for the next five years. Dip the toes in the water. Find a couple small things you can manage quickly. Let the adrenaline from that move you toward bigger ideas. There are websites that offer suggestions for small projects you can even do at home. Through that, you may find something that releases a passion in your family, and you'll want to find a bigger project. Don't let the idea that you have to tackle world hunger overwhelm you and keep you from finding one thing you can do, right now.

Empower Your Kids

Currently, at least 75 percent of young people will leave the church when they leave home. One of the major reasons for this heartbreaking attrition is their feeling that church is irrelevant to and out of touch with their daily lives. As well, young people cite a feeling that older generations prefer to condescend to them and refuse them meaningful service until they're “ready.” For a generation bent on making a difference, this is understandably frustrating.

What would happen if, instead, we taught kids from the time they could walk that they were the hands and feet to make the church relevant? That the ends of the earth weren't as far away or impossible to impact as they thought?

I’ve not yet read the Scripture that said children had to wait and watch until they’re old enough to “handle” using their gifts. In fact, several passages relate how God did use children who had been trained to listen to Him.

Find a cause your family can all get excited about and pursue that mission together. Trust them with meaningful work, not busyness to keep them occupied. Let them decide what you're going to do together. Let them own the work, and give them credit. Take their lead. You will be joyfully surprised.

Be What You Want To See

Parents get kids who resemble them—in more ways than hair and eye color. If you want generous kids, be a generous person. Bottom line. Dropping kids off at a service project for children's church or a mission trip for the youth group will not magically convert them to eager servers. Kids willingly go along with programs, but they watch, and imitate, you.

If you model a lifestyle that is too busy to volunteer at that community event, go with them on that mission trip, or visit a lonely person, your kids will compartmentalize service as “something adults do when they have time. Which is never.”

Model a way of life where generosity and service happen as a natural part of who you are. Make it something you'll stop everything to do. Let them see you willing to do without something so you can give to someone else. Talk about that choice.

As my daughter recently said, “You never taught us that serving was a “thing” you had to do as Christians. You showed us it was a way of thinking and observing the world, 24/7.”
Be the generous person you want to see in your kids.

Websites to try:

Books to read:
When More Is not Enough: How to Stop Giving Your Kids What They Want and Give Them What They Need

Don't Forget to Pack the Kids: Short-Term Missions for Your Whole Family

Teach Me to Serve: 99 Ways Preschoolers can learn to serve and bless others, Kristen Summers—

Small Things with Great Love: Adventures in Loving Your Neighbor, Margot Starbuck--

Growing Grateful Kids: Teaching Them to Appreciate an Extraordinary God in Ordinary Places, Susie Larson--

Jill serves a Pastor of Discipleship at Resolution Church in Chicagoland. She has published five books and contributed to two others from Lillenas Publishing and Christianity Today. She is a sought-after speaker for retreats, special events, MOPS, and high schools.
You can find Jill at: 

1 comment:

  1. Thanks, Anne. By the sound of it, your four-year-old will have opinions on how and where to serve. I love reading your quips about him! That's a great thing to embrace.