It’s a couple of days until Christmas and every body is dashing around getting ready, which mostly means getting packages and parcels and gifts ready. Popular culture tells us that “It is better to give than receive” but what does the Bible say? The Bible is packed with the parables of Jesus teach us about being generous or the difference between being selfish and generous.
This is definitely a matter of the heart. And I for one am interested in teaching my kids about matters of the heart! We really want our children to learn that it is better to give than to receive and most of us want our children to think there is more to Christmas than gifts and gifting. So here are se7en tips for teaching your kids about giving and receiving:
- Beyond the Gimme’s: Jesus was tempted in the desert and he had the knowledge to respond to satan. We have to equip our children with knowledge and prepare them to cope with their temptations. We have a game that is pretty much “Spot the Marketer…” for example in the checkout my kids know that the stuff that is placed there is to trick them. They feel quite clever that they can trick the marketer right back and resist… There is a lesson that we could learn ourselves – often we see a bargain and grab things we don’t need at all, because they are a huge saving. Our kids are learning from us and only we can teach them to be content with what they have regardless of a bargain!
- Control the Gathering: We read heaps of parables as part of our daily reading and the little books on this page are part of our library. It is not enough, though, just to read to them – we do a heap of talking… The foolish farmer is definitely a family member, for the person that can’t part with any of their accumulated goodies the foolish farmer springs to mind. My kids are slowly learning that the more they give the more they get in return… often sharing time with someone can reap great rewards and make friendships they never thought they would have.
- Respect What They Have: Our kids have to know how to take care of their belongings – it isn’t fair to give them so much stuff that they can’t look after it. Much as we want to give them the world!!! We expect our kids to clean up, tidy up and get their clothes through the laundry. Wear the right clothes for the job, no Sunday shirts for car maintenance!!! By showing that they can look after what they have is proving that they are ready for more responsibility.
- Realistic Expectations: I have one child who was born knowing the difference between a branded and a non-branded item – I am not kidding!!! That kid has had to learn to be content with what is available… and while anybody can dream about owning the latest and greatest the reality is far humbler!!! If you are dead set on getting a Ferrari for your birthday then you are going to be disappointed – permanently!!!
- Helping Their Neighbor: It is not enough to donate the things we are finished with, clothes too worn to wear or whatever. Basically if they have too much of something they need to decide what they have to pass on. Sometimes our kids end up with an accumulation of goodies, then they need to pick and choose and weigh up what they want versus what someone else may need more. I want our kids to understand that donating stuff is about fulfilling other folks needs rather than just us getting rid of their own junk.
- Donating and Not Just Stuff: Have a look at the good Samaritan, he knew who his neighbor was and he went the extra mile to help him. It is not enough to donate stuff they are finished with and then pat themselves on the back for being generous. There are other ways for them to give of themselves and it doesn’t have to be awful. Serving others is just as much a donation. They spent last week baking cookies to donate for our cookie swap – that was fun!!! Donating and volunteering to help is often fun.
- Enable Them: It is not in our nature to be generous hearted, when a child shows a spark of generosity go with it. Let them write a letter to someone who is ill, bake for a friend or let them help you make a meal for someone, let them visit someone and give the gift of time – just because, not for a birthday or for Christmas. Sometimes your kids will surprise you, ours have been working on their Lesotho Baking Project for months, sometimes they lose momentum and I remind them that they need to bake again but mostly they are right there… baking away.
Sometimes we forget that we don’t have to give the world, we have to give of ourselves and we have to give our best. For small people we expect them to give in a small way – often you will be surprised at the enormity of their giving!!! Really there is only one way to teach our kids that giving is better than receiving and that is to teach them by example… And Christmastime is as good a time as any when we remember the greatest gift of all:
For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son,[a] that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.
Hope you have a great week!!