As I sit down to write this article, my oldest son is beginning his final semester of college. Our time of instructing him in our home is nearing an end. I’m pretty sure it was only yesterday that I took his little hand and led him into his kindergarten classroom, and today I am facing a bittersweet ending, a closing of a chapter in our parenting lives. On that fall day 16 years ago, and on the many days that followed, it seemed like our years of parenting would stretch on forever. It seemed like there were unlimited days left for teaching opportunities in our home.
So now I have a confession to make. In hindsight, one of those teaching opportunities that my husband, Thad, and I often failed to be intentional about was modeling a God-pleasing attitude toward money and possessions, and better yet—a focus on living out of gratitude for the Lord and all he’s blessed us with. We thank God that, in Christ, he forgives our shortcomings as parents!
Here are some important lessons that Thad and I have learned and are still working to teach in our home regarding our attitude toward money and possessions:
- Everything we have—from the comfortable house we live in to the stray paper clip at the bottom of the junk drawer—is a “gift from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights” (James 1:17). We are simply the blessed and undeserving recipients of these gifts. When we have that attitude, we start to view our possessions as a “privilege,” instead of a “right.”
- We need to show our kids how to give sacrificially to God in response to all our blessings and verbalize why we give. As parents, we must model how to earmark the first portion of our income to support God’s work. It is a very intentional response to our blessings, and it serves others—and becomes more meaningful than just a few coins hastily shoved into the little Sunday school envelope five minutes before the service begins. (And yes, we did this.)
- We need to model how to do an honest day’s work—for which we earn an honest wage. We can’t raise the next generation to do nothing and expect something in return. When we have to work hard for something, it carries a higher value.
- Our value is not dependent on how much money we have in the bank or what brand of car we drive. Quite simply, our value is dependent on who we are in Christ. We are redeemed children of God, and nothing on earth is worth more than that.
Is it too late for Thad and me to teach our kids these lessons in our home? No. Although our boys are legally adults, they are still our children. We are still Mom and Dad, and it is still our number one responsibility to instruct them in God’s truth and in how to view our lives—and all we have—as gifts from a loving heavenly Father.