Parents have high hopes for their kids. Future professional sports stars, doctors, entrepreneurs, and community leaders are currently occupying spots in preschools all over America. While parents have little control over the ultimate trajectory of their children’s lives, they do have tremendous influence in the shaping of their children’s character.
I love being a dad. It’s a great blessing to see my kids grow and change, seemingly by the day. My wife and I appreciate the unique set of gifts that our three children have, and we pray that God uses their unique blend of resources in major ways for His glory.
Parenting is stewardship, and God calls parents to care for and prepare children for life in adulthood. But what lessons about stewardship should parents entrust to their children during the short time we have our kids at home?
Here are five lessons about stewardship that you can start teaching your kids today.
1. Everyone belongs to God, including us. So, steward your relationships well.
Every human being is created in the image of God (Gen. 1:26-27). Therefore, every person deserves to be treated with dignity, kindness, and respect. It’s impossible to please every person, but I pray that my kids learn to build bridges and not burn them.
As our society further devalues commitment and relationship, I pray that my kids understand and appreciate the way God wired humans to interact with each other. As they build friendships in a school environment where kids are fickle and change their emotions daily, I pray that they are known for the consistency of their character and that they value every human life the way God values them. As they interact with school staff, community members, and their church family, I pray that they realize their ability to impact other lives positively for the glory of God. And when the time comes (probably sooner than I’m ready), I pray that they find a spouse with whom they can build a lifetime commitment of serving God together. I pray that my kids remember that everyone belongs to God, and I pray that they steward their relationships well.
2. Everything belongs to God, including our talents. So, use them for His glory.
Throughout childhood, kids display numerous gifts and talents as their unique personalities develop. As they move through elementary school and into junior high, their special blend of abilities comes to the forefront, and parents have a difficult balance to maintain. We want our kids to know that we’re proud of them, but we don’t want them so puffed up with sinful pride that they bring dishonor to God.
As my kids learn their gifts, my wife and I remind them that every good gift comes from the Father (James 1:17). Anything they have is because God gave it to them, so they have a responsibility to use that gift for God’s glory and not for their own fame.
Our daughter Abigail is very talented. She sings, dances, acts, and is a great student. But since she was very young, we’ve reminded her that she isn’t the star of the show. Early on, I played her a song called, “Background.” In it, the talented artist Lecrae raps about how his life’s goal is to focus attention on God, rather than on himself. At the end of one verse, he says,
So let me fall back, stop giving my suggestions ‘Cause when I follow my obsessions I end up confessin’ That I’m not that impressive, matter fact I’m who I are A trail of stardust leadin’ to the Superstar
Ever since, I’ve called Abigail my trail of stardust. Kids are not stars. They are trails of stardust leading to heaven’s Superstar, and God wants them to use their talents for His glory.
3. You don’t have to be rich to be wealthy.
Ultimately, stewardship is an issue of management. We own nothing. King Solomon understood that earthly possessions are fleeting. He acquired gold, buildings, and even people, but he found that materialism is but a striving after wind (Ecclesiastes 2:1-11).
If your whole heart is devoted to acquiring possessions, you will soon discover the pointlessness of your work. But when we realize that wealth is measured by more than money, our perspective changes. I pray my kids learn that wealth can be measured by the love you give and receive and by the impact you make in the lives of others. Often, the wealthiest people aren’t the richest. Truly wealthy people enjoy and share all of God’s gifts to the fullest.
4. Stewardship works best when you have a system in place.
To teach our kids about stewardship and managing money, we use a 3S approach in our family. My wife Jennifer and I teach our kids to take money they earn and divide it into three categories: SERVE, SAVE, and SPEND.
Since everything comes from God, our first response is to honor Him with the first of our earned income. We’ve taught our kids to tithe to our church with the first 10%, and then to hold the rest of their SERVE money back until God burdens them with how to use it. Sometimes, they give to special offerings at church. Abigail loves Operation Christmas Child, so we’ve encouraged her to support that ministry with her SERVE money. Regardless, the first third of their earned income goes to serve God and others.
The second third is the SAVE money. Each of our kids has a savings account, and we’ve taught them that the second third of their income needs to be saved. As they get older, they can use the savings toward their own emergency account. While they don’t earn great interest at the bank, they do build the habit of saving a third of their income.
The final third of their earned income is their SPEND money. Kids always have things they want to buy, and we want them to have access to some of their money to enjoy. While we discuss discipline in spending, especially with our youngest, it is important for kids to have some control and freedom with their money.
5. Remember that stewardship is an act of worship.
Finally, I pray that my kids learn and apply the important truth that stewardship, like everything else we do, is an act of worship to God. Since He is the Author of life and the Giver of all good gifts, I pray my kids look at every stage of life as an opportunity for worship. When times are good, I pray that they give glory to the gracious God who supplies our needs (Phil. 4:19). When times are bad, I pray that they trust God and experience the peace of contentment, rather than worrying about their circumstances (Phil 4:4-7).