When I left the law firm 19 years ago to help start a foundation dedicated to biblical generosity, I knew that I’d be engaged in helping people live generous lives. But I could not have foreseen how much that would involve family dynamics.
Now, after working with many families across the country, I’m more convinced than ever of the importance of generosity for families.
What do I mean?
Many of us tend to think of generosity mainly in terms of what we’re giving away and what we’re giving to. How much will I give away, and how? What organizations or individuals will I give to? What causes will I support? These are practical questions on giving that have to be addressed.
But what excites me about generosity is its power to transform hearts and shape values.
Now don’t get me wrong. The dollars, volunteer hours, and other gifts are vitally important to support the many wonderful organizations and individuals called to meet needs, solve problems and advance the gospel of Christ.
But I want to highlight this transformative side of generosity, and specifically how powerful it is for families.
The Value of Generosity
When we give generously, especially when that giving comes with sacrifice, we’re choosing to value something beyond our own desires and comforts.
Generosity is acting on a vision of life that is not all about us.
And giving from that mindset brings joy. Generous givers are often the most content, grateful and humble people you’ll meet. That’s why generosity is so important for families. Children have a front-row seat to our lives. They observe what we truly value and often imitate us when they’re young. If we want our children to flourish as they grow up, we’ll teach them to be givers. We’ll teach them to love their neighbors, to value and serve others.
Giving as a Family
I’ve seen the power of generosity play out across generations with David and Barbara Green and their family (David is the founder and CEO of Hobby Lobby). For all of his success, David is one of those generous people I described above, humble, gracious and happy.
Modeling joyful generosity is a great starting place in teaching children to be givers; involving them in giving is the next step.
David shares from his experience of doing just that in our new book, A Generous Life: 10 Steps to a Life Money Can’t Buy.
Generosity starts with a vision for blessing others. David writes how he was influenced by his parents’ sacrificial generosity despite their severely limited resources. They taught him and his siblings to tithe and to give to missions, passing on a vision for giving generously to advance the gospel of Christ. David and Barbara worked to pass that same vision of generosity to their children, who in turn have passed it on to their children.
Families can involve children in giving in a variety of age-appropriate ways, moving from discussing the “why” of generosity and toward make giving decisions together.
David tells how he and Barbara involved their children in establishing criteria for which organizations they would give to and how much they would give. Today some of the grandchildren join in making giving decisions together.
Consider these practical benefits of giving as a family:
- Family giving provides the common ground of learning together, since most families admittedly don’t have all the answers for where to give, how to give and how to get results.
- Parents (and grandparents) will have opportunities to share their hearts with their children as they discuss what they want to give to and why.
- As children mature, family giving discussions also become a place for parents to learn what their children care about.
- Family giving affords a time and a place to talk about values, work through disagreements and build trust, all in the context of blessing others.
The ultimate aim of giving together is to cultivate a generous spirit in each family member. A generous spirit goes beyond money, affecting how we use our time, who we seek to help and how we serve them.
From the training ground of family generosity, the rising generation is equipped to flourish as givers in their own callings.
Written for Devotionals Daily by Bill High, featuring A Generous Life by David Green with Bill High.
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Do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased. — Hebrews 13:16
How is your family cultivating generosity with others? How are your kids learning to give and serve and love others for Jesus? Come share with us on our blog. We want to hear from you! ~ Devotionals Daily