We’ve always talked openly with our kids about money – specifically about how to be Biblically responsible with money. From earning it and spending it to tithing it and saving it, we have not just told our kids what they need to do but we have made sure we have modeled that behavior in everything we do.
Earning it – our kids witnessed their dad walk away from a job (with nothing else in the pipeline) because the employer’s practices violated the law and he refused to smile and go along with it. A paycheck is never more important that your integrity. That decision was followed by a 2 ½ year stint of unemployment where several opportunities were passed on because the companies had questionable histories or practices and the message was reinforced with the kids that money doesn’t trump your morals. We prayed as a family for God’s wisdom, direction and protection and he had out back on all accounts. The kids saw this.
Spending it – Much like the stock market fluctuations, our “disposal” income has had its ups and downs over the years. Especially down when we were down to one income, but fortunately, we had already established responsible spending habits that helped the kids adjust quickly when we didn’t have ability to buy like we used to. Just because you can spend it, doesn’t mean you should spend it. This is a mantra the kids heard in good times and in bad from us. Especially when the 7-year-old neighbor kid (whose parents’ income was a fraction of ours) got the newest $700 gaming system for Christmas and our kids are opening clothes we bought at the thrift store or consignment shop and $20 toys from Wal-Mart. Our kids saw their parents do without things we really wanted, and could afford, but knew that indulging our worldly desires would not be honoring God with our money so they learned this lesson by example, not just enforcement.
Saving it – I have always been a saver, but it was important for my kids to not just practice it but see the importance as well. In first grade the kids started earning an allowance they were taught to put aside 10% for Tithing, 10% for Savings and 10% for taxes. Proverbs 21:20 says “The wise man saves for the future but the foolish man spends whatever he gets” so I wanted the kids to have a concept of what “saving for the future” meant. We would set savings goals that had purpose. For the kids, saving might be for a new video game or toy that they wanted; for mom and dad, saving might be for retirement, a down payment on a house… or a 2 ½ year gap in employment during the country’s biggest recession since the 1930’s. But saving money doesn’t just protect you on rainy days, but also teaches something most of our current generation has never been required to learn – delayed gratification.
Tithing it – If you’ve read much of my blog, you know that tithing is a passionate topic for me and it’s a passion that we’ve passed on to the kids. Whether it’s allowance, found money on the street or their first real jobs this summer, the first thing my kids do is calculate the 10% that goes to the church. But true giving is more than just giving 10% - Deuteronomy 16:17 says “Every man shall give as he is able, according to the blessing of the LORD your God which He has given you.” So if God has blessed you with more, you should be giving more. It does not equally mean, however, if you have less, you should be giving less. Even when my family was facing financialhardship, we continued to faithfully tithe on what we did have and God provided for us in ways we could not imagine possible. This example taught our kids more than we could have ever imagined without having to preach a word about it.
This brings me to my youngest son. This summer, he had his first real job and, although it was just minimum wage, it was a lot more than his allowance. Taxes took care of themselves, but with each paycheck, he would calculate his tithe (and always generously round up) and then put the majority of his check (like 80% of the net) in his saving account. He didn’t need it for anything specific, so he was going to save it. (Good boy!) It feels great, as a parent, to know that the lessons you preach and the life you model is being absorbed, better yet, reflected in your child’s choices, but that’s not even the best part…
It wasn’t long before my son decided he wanted to use this savings to support Exponential Church, the church plant in Port St. Lucy led by Pastor Christian Gaffney (I know how he felt, I wanted to give to Expo Church as soon as I heard about it too) but, to paraphrase Pastor Christian, since Fair Oaks Church is not going to have a “special fund” for Expo Church, the best way to support the church plant, it to support Fair Oaks Church.
In these last few weeks of the year Fair Oaks Church has been making a plea to members for a year-end gift as the church is more than $100k short in their annual budget. This shortfall is a real burden on church staff and it has placed a special burden on my son’s heart so he reminded me of his savings. He asked to keep just a minimum amount in there to keep the account open and to give the rest to Fair Oaks Church to help them meet budget. Wow! I can’t even put into words how it makes me feel that this kid (who only opened two boxes from his parents on Christmas Day) wants to give his life saving to the church.
So, if my son were writing here, I think he’d want to ask, has his burden has become your burden? No matter what you history with earning or spending or saving or tithing, there’s nothing stopping you from taking this moment, right now, to make a decision for a year-end gift. Maybe for you, it’s a small amount. Maybe you’re capable of giving a large amount. Either way, by supporting this church, you are supporting the cause of Christ and the work of the Kingdom of God.