Working full-time in a stewardship and generosity career, I find it fascinating, and instructive, to learn of the many ways that people learned about and began practicing biblical stewardship and generosity...or not. The most obvious factors included:
- Were they raised in a Christian family?
- Did they become a Christ follower early in life?
- Did their parents practice biblical stewardship? Did they tithe?
- Did they transparently model it for their children?
- Did they talk about it?
- Did they teach it?
- Did they help their children begin to practice it, i.e. even helping them learn and practice tithing of even their first small allowance?
- Was it taught in their church?
- Did anyone take an interest in mentoring/teaching it to them?
- Were they the recipients of significant generosity from another?
- Have they ever been called out to really seek the Lord’s leading in the matter of giving/tithing/generosity?
The one thing that impacts the adult practice of biblical stewardship and generosity more than any other is what they learned in their childhood, especially from their parents. While my parents did little if anything to actively teach us (seven kids) biblical stewardship, we did see it modeled. They faithfully gave (and I’m sure it was at the tithe level) to our church and to a couple missionaries, whether the harvest that year was a bumper crop or one that had been hailed out.
I’ll never forget a severe hail storm of about 1960. We watched from the porch as golf ball size hair ruined roofs, stripped trees bare and totally-wiped-out grain harvest. Though a stoic man, I think I saw one of the few tears that ever escaped dad’s eye. It was devastating. As much as he could have used every available cent to support us in that coming year, he knew even those few cents really were not his to withhold from the Lord. And yet, the Lord provided. One of the ways God provided that year was in the free commodities we received – flour, sugar, rice, butter, cheese, sausage, potatoes, peanut butter, beans/lentils, etc. It’s been quite some time since I last recalled that event, but it is again a good reminder of that it all belongs to God, and he is our faithful provider.
In a past issue of Do Well (Volume 2, Issue 3), a quarterly magazine from Crown Financial, Crown CEO Chuck Bentley and his wife Ann wrote a great article called, “Age Appropriate Finances - Teaching Your Kids to Be Wise Money Managers.” They give great guidance for how to teach biblical stewardship appropriate to each age level. I summarize:
- Ages 0-3: Teach children to respect other’s belongings and to share theirs
- Ages 3-5: Teach preschoolers the importance of saving and giving. This can be an important start to a life of good habits.
- Ages 5-8: Teach lessons of personal responsibility. Chores can give children a sense of purpose and help them understand their responsibility to family. Also, give them opportunities to earn money on their own. By the way, the Bentleys view chores as personal responsibilities, a part of being alive and being part of a household. Therefore, they don’t recommend paying kids for these personal and family chores.
- Ages 8-12: Help your children learn to give at church, and to find opportunities to share with people and needs in your community and around the world. Begin teaching them how to make the most of their money as a consumer.
- Ages 12-16: As the children begin to move out of allowance into employment earning opportunities, help them transition previous learning to real life experience. Teach them the skills of job hunting appropriate to their interests and skills. Continue to teach and challenge them to be faithful stewards of all that God has given them.
This article is based on an online “Crown.tv” program. For a much more in-depth look at the Bentley’s teaching on this age appropriate training, go to www.crown.org.
David Viland is the Senior Consultant for CIF’s Campaigns & Consulting. He has over 35 years of experience with expertise in biblically-focused campaigns, church leadership and mission & vision development and clarification. He also facilitates strategic planning sessions and provides church governance training.