Wednesday, January 18, 2012

how to teach children about giving

My husband and I share the same passion -- to live lives of generosity and be others- and God-centered rather than self-centered. Its a legacy we hope to pass on to our daughters, and the drive for our "family ministry."

So despite being white, well-educated, and in stable careers, we moved to an inner city neighborhood to live among the non-white, the non-educated, and the unemployed. Our jobs, our church, and even our children's schools are located within a community of people whom we might not otherwise have built relationships with.

The results can't be ignored: our daughters think it's a normal thing to spend their Wednesday nights playing and worshiping with a group of kids who look very different from themselves. They think that the homeless woman on the street looks a lot like the nice lady at church, so they wave at her and smile. As parents, we haven't had to scrap together some images from brochures or schedule a slot at a soup kitchen in order to describe who "the poor" are; instead, they know people that fit that description by their first names, which means that giving away our time and money and possessions feels like we're giving to our friends ... which, we are.

Not everyone is able to pick up and move to a different neighborhood in order to serve people -- that definitely won't make the "simple ways to give" list. But I think everyone has the capacity, wherever they are, to build real friendships with the people we minister to. A real friendship, one that goes beyond you giving and the other person receiving, will not only benefit your children and their worldview, but will also benefit the other person in a way no soup kitchen or toy drive ever could.

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