Everything you do communicates something to somebody. If you have kids, you know this to be especially true of parenting. Your kids catch what you say and what you do—and often say and do the same. Everything you do as a parent matters.
The other day, my 5-year old rode in the car with me. And he was upset. He was upset because of what he deemed unfair. He said that we, as a family, gave to others, but others did not give to us. In his mind, there was lack of reciprocity.
I told him that people were, indeed, generous to us, and gave several examples. But I also shared how we don’t give to others to get from others. We give because of what God gave us. It was a good conversation.
The conversation was another reminder that my son was watching me and my wife closely. And that part of what he witnesses is our generosity. Our generosity matters to our kids. And so does your generosity.
Here’s what happens when kids get to see the generosity of their parents:
- They learn what it looks like to trust God. Letting go requires trust. When you let go of your money and possessions, you demonstrate trust in God. And your kids see this.
- They see what it looks like to put others first. Matthew 7:12 is put on full display. If they don’t immediately catch it, tell them—“As followers of Jesus, we put others before ourselves.” And when others are generous to your family, tell them how they are putting your family above their own because of their love for Jesus. This is something that I am trying to do more.
- They observe what it means to lay up treasures in heaven. They are able to see what it means to be eternity-focused, concerned about advancing God’s Kingdom and not building your own kingdom here on earth.
- They witness the blessings of generosity. There are eternal blessings associated with generosity. But there are also blessings in the present, in the here and now, that we get to experience—contentment, being a part of something much larger than ourselves. As Paul says in 1 Timothy 6:19, we get to “take hold of that which is truly life.”
Everything you do communicates something to your kids. This thought humbles and, sometimes, terrifies me. Your generosity matters. It matters to you. It matters to God’s Kingdom. And it matters to your kids.