Paying It Forward: 3 Ways To Teach Children Stewardship
Paying It Forward: 3 Ways To Teach Children Stewardship

Paying It Forward: 3 Ways To Teach Children Stewardship

Posted on June 20, 2017
Every week for a year or so, the musty library of my childhood church hosted a unique group of little philanthropists. After sunday school, some elementary-aged friends and I would march into the library - set up like a classroom with a podium in front and bookshelves in the back - and conduct an immature giving circle. In my memory, these meetings were very organized, but in truth they were likely clouded by a false sense of self-importance. While I am sure that our motivations were not entirely humble or self-sacrificing, I am encouraged by the fact that we wanted giving to be a regular, enjoyable part of our lives. After all, hadn’t we seen our parents give to the church and to charity a million times over? It was only natural that we wanted to do the same, albeit naively.

Stewardship is an important value to pass on to your children. However, it can be difficult to know how to encourage kids to have a generous heart without accidentally guilting them into giving or using it to bolster their pride. In order to set positive patterns and mindsets, consider these three areas that offer many opportunities for practicing stewardship.

1. Stewardship of Time

Generally, when we think of stewardship, we think of money. Yet, there are many other ways to be a good steward. According to the National Philanthropic Trust, approximately 25 percent of adult Americans volunteer their time in the hope of making a difference. How we spend our time is also an indicator of what we value. As a family, take a week to chart everything that you do -- from getting ready time to work time to leisure time. Be as specific and detailed as you can be. At the end of the week, reflect on your time. Where do you spend the most time? Does your time reflect what you consider to be your values, or is it focused on things that you don’t want to value? Talk through the time chart with your children, and discuss ways that you could improve or modify your time to be better stewards. For example, your son may really value learning to play the piano, but he doesn’t put in any time practicing. Help him understand that the value he places on something should be reflected in how he spends his time.

2. Stewardship of Money

Children will have a better perspective of giving if they understand why and how their parents give. Modelling self-sacrifice and humility with your money can help your child want to do the same. Show your child that charitable giving is not a special occasion to bring yourself glory, but rather a routine practice of blessing others. Help your child learn stewardship by developing a budget for spending their money on themselves, friends, gifts, charity, and anything else they may need. Explain that money is a tool not only for our own well-being, but for the well-being of others and the world.

3. Stewardship of Talents

Another important way that we can help our children develop stewardship skills is through their talents. What activities and interests does your child enjoy? If they play a musical instrument, help them organize a concert at the local nursing home. If they love sports, help them pull together a charity tournament or volunteer with them at a Special Olympics event. Serving others is a way to celebrate the things that your child is great at! It is also an incredible opportunity for your child to learn how their skills can stewarded to help others.

As you try some of these ideas as a family, discuss your experiences together. Take time to listen to your children and guide them toward a positive understanding of how they can be wise stewards.

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