#MoneyMatters is a Q&A category based on questions I have received on the topic of Christians and wealth, money & possessions. If you have a question, email firstname.lastname@example.org , and I do my best in writing a response!
Wouldn’t it be so much easier if the Bible would just have a book about parenting in it? It would answer all our questions about when, how, why, what to say, rules about age, and everything else, so we would all know what to do. This, however, is somewhat wishful thinking. In reality, we have a Bible that deals with us personally. As much as I would love to have a book in scripture about parenting, knowing the Bible is about helping me through life is more empowering to me in the long run.
As we look into teaching kids about tithing, for example, the Bible teaches us how to be stewards of our own wealth and expects us to train our children accordingly (Proverbs 22:6). What most of us miss, is that in the first part of Proverbs 22, the theme of wealth is mentioned several times surrounding this “parenting” verse. Clearly, the fundamentals of giving and tithing are important to the development of a child and have a lasting impact.
Teaching your child about giving and tithing is very important. Here are a few thoughts in responding to this question:
1. You teach best by doing your best.
If you believe in tithing, and you want your child to learn from it, make sure your child witnesses you tithing. For whatever reason, we try and keep the financial matters of our lives private. While there is no need for our kids to know or feel the pressures of money, the only way they’ll learn is if they see good financial stewardship in action.
2. Children are natural givers; don’t wait until culture reverses it.
I love seeing a child give without expecting anything in return. My wife and I recently had a baby girl (Rae) and we were amazed by all the gifts she received by so many family and friends! One of the gifts that stands out the most came from a little girl from our congregation, who, out of her own allowance, bought Rae a gift on their family vacation. She insisted that she needed to give our little baby a gift. Somewhere along the line, however, culture will try to strip that sweet giving nature away and replace it with a desire for personal gain, unless her parents counteract it with positive parenting. It’s important to encourage our kids to care for others before themselves, otherwise culture will teach them differently.
3. Don’t try to walk before you can support your head.
Nearly five months has passed since Rae was born. In the initial few weeks, it was really important to support her head because she couldn’t do it on her own. Now that she can, we have to put our attention towards the next steps – sitting up, rolling, crawling, standing, and eventually walking. It would be crazy to expect Rae to walk before any of these previous steps. Giving and tithing is a lot like this process, especially if this is a new concept for the family. No one can expect someone to jump right into it! We have to grow, step by step, mastering each step along the way. Set goals, take “baby steps”, and before know it, giving and tithing will be a part of the family’s DNA.
4. Giving doesn’t grow with age, your heart does.
I’ve heard too many parents say, “they’ll figure that out when they’re older…” Truth be told, with that attitude, the Christian faith won’t even be on their radar when they’re older, let alone giving and tithing. There is always a way to relate difficult and complex concepts to children in ways they understand. If you don’t know where to start, ask your child what they think of money and what it’s used for? You’ll be amazed at their answers! More than likely, they will describe how you use money. If we all do our best in learning how to communicate giving and tithing with our kids during their childhood, their heart for giving will continue to grow with age.
So, to answer the question: the best time to teach your child about giving and tithing is right now. Don’t hide your giving and tithing habits from your children. Include them in family projects of generosity (ie. helping a neighbour, or sponsoring a child oversees). Encourage those moments when your kids are looking to give (even if it’s small)! Set small goals as a family, achieve them, and make giving and tithing a part of the regular family conversation. Before you know it, the heart of giving and tithing will become stronger than the heart of owning and buying things for yourself!
— Andrew T Holm (@AtH0LM) July 17, 2014