Are You a “Get” or a “Give” Family?

In her book Generations, author Jean Twenge looked at an analysis of how many times the words “get” and “give” appeared in American books published each year. Before WWII “give” was more common than “get”. Over time, the top word varied from year to year, but the margin was always fairly close. Now? In 2010, the word “get” was twice as likely to appear in a book as the word “give”.

And that’s not the only sign of a growing selfishness in the world around us. Ask any non-profit or ministry and they will tell you that the vast majority of their donors are over the age of fifty. Like any problem, there are probably dozens of factors contributing to this growing selfish behavior. You may not be able to influence the world’s generosity, but you can impact that of your children.

God calls on His people over and over to be generous – not just in the amount they give, but in the percentage (the widow’s mite) of their income and most importantly having a generous, willing heart. That generous heart is best developed in childhood. One of the reasons we were pro allowance is that it provided a way for our daughter to give part of her “income” back to God.

We modeled giving and as a family we gave of our time and possessions as well as our money. We discussed why we couldn’t do some of the things other families were doing because of the needs someone else had that were more important. We didn’t force her to give up presents on her birthday in favor of charitable donations or dictate how much she gave. We did, however, have lots and lots of discussions about generous, sacrificial giving. We Meereen as intentional as possible about being a “give”family rather than a “get” family.

Not sure if you are a “get” or a “give” family? Ask yourself these questions.

  1. Are there more conversations about buying things than giving things in your home?
  2. What percentage of your income is given to church, ministries and charity? (There’s no rule, but “give”families usually donate much more than ten percent of their income.)
  3. Are your children encouraged to give weekly to God? Even though many congregations have gone to online giving, most have a box somewhere where your children can place their cash donations. Make it a weekly habit if you really want to raise a giver.
  4. Do you and your kids always have to have the latest and greatest or do you get as much as possible out of the things you own? Once again, everyone is different, but many givers try to keep a new car at least ten years and don’t continually replace other items meant for long term use.
  5. Do you toss (or sell) outgrown clothes or items you don’t use any more or do you give them to someone who needs them? You may be able to give because you sell used items and that’s great! If you are selling or tossing without any thought to others, though, that can indicate an issue.
  6. If someone had a desperate need for something you own, how hard would it be for you or your children to part with that item? Sometimes, it’s just not practical. You can’t give away the car your family needs to get to work. A gut check though is your initial reaction to a need someone has. Do you immediately start thinking about how you can protect your assets as much as possible and still be seen as helping or do you start trying to help even though it may be inconvenient to do so?

This is not a one time issue. “Give” families can become “get” families and visa versa. Have regular discussions about giving and generosity. Ask your kids which type of family you are and why. Raise givers and not getters.

Published by

Thereasa Winnett

Thereasa Winnett is the founder of Teach One Reach One and blogger at Parenting Like Hannah. She holds a BA in education from the College of William and Mary. She has served in all areas of ministry to children and teens for more than thirty years and regularly leads workshops for ministries and churches. She has conducted numerous workshops, including sessions at Points of Light’s National Conference on Volunteering and Service, the National Urban Ministry Conference, Pepperdine Bible Lectures, and Lipscomb’s Summer Celebration. Thereasa lives in Atlanta, GA with her husband Greg, where she enjoys reading, knitting, traveling and cooking.

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