Fun Object Lesson to Teach Kids About Greed

Kids often think if they can just have the next new thing, they will be happy. As adults, we’ve hopefully learned that we can’t fill the space in our lives meant for God with things. There is always something new or something better or something more. Rarely, does a greedy person ever believe they have enough money or “stuff”.

There’s a fun family devotional you can do with your kids that involves an object lesson. Before your kids join you, find a tin can that has a safety cut lid with no sharp edges. Put about an inch or two of fingernail polish remover with acetone in the can. (Remover without acetone won’t work.) You will also need a huge pile of styrofoam packing noodles.

Call your kids together. Tell them about King Solomon. Remind them he asked God for wisdom, so God said He would also grant Solomon wealth because he had chosen wisdom. Read them 1 Kings 10:14-29. In today’s money, Solomon’s worth is estimated to be $2 trillion!

But when he was older, Solomon wrote the book Ecclesiastes because he learned a hard lesson about money and things. Ask your kids to make a pile of styrofoam noodles that will fill the can you have chosen. Slowly begin dropping one noodle in at a time. As you drop a noodle, ask your kids what are some of the things they would buy if they had $10. With each noodle, raise the amount of money they can spend. The noodles should be dissolving in the acetone. (Reminder this is a toxic chemical and should be watched carefully around children. Dispose of properly afterwards, so they don’t mistake it for water and drink it.)

Eventually, all of the noodles in their pile should be gone and the can still hasn’t filled with noodles. Similarly, if you made the jumps in money small enough, there should still be things they want to buy. Now start adding the remaining noodles from the original pile. Note that the can never fills with noodles and they never run out of ways to spend the money.

Explain that the acetone represents the greed that can grow in our hearts. We can feed it money and things, but it will devour them and still want more.

Read 1 Corinthians 6:10. Ask your kids what God would prefer us to have in our hearts other than greed.

5 Gifts Kids Should Give Every Day

It seems like childhood revolves around gifts. Either your kids are receiving gifts or giving them to the endless stream of classmates with birthdays. As children being raised in Christian homes, you want your kids to avoid becoming entitled and materialistic. You want them to realize that even at very young ages, they can make a positive difference in the lives of others by reflecting God’s love to them.

An easy way to remind your kids to reflect God’s love is to teach them about the five gifts they can give to others every day. In fact, they can give these gifts multiple times each day, brightening the lives of those they encounter and helping them see how much God must love them, too.

To make it easier, each gift they can give is connected to one of the five senses. If your kids have trouble remembering, just tell them to remember the five senses and the attached gifts should come to mind.

  1. Eyes. Give the gift of smiling with their eyes to others. There is something about a genuine smile from another that can bring a little light to the darkest of days. Why is this attached to the eyes? Because you can fake a smile on your lips, but a genuine smile is always seen in the eyes, too.
  2. Mouth. Encouraging words. Encouragement is rare in our world. When your kids focus on using their mouths to encourage others, they will make a positive difference in the lives of everyone they encourage.
  3. Ears. Listening ears are also a gift. Not the half listening that many people practice, but true active listening. Many kids have no one…not even a parent…who will really listen to them. Your kids don’t have to have all of the answers. Often just having someone really listen to them can make a positive difference.
  4. Hands. Helping hands are becoming a rarity as people become more self absorbed. Are your kids quick to offer their hands when help is needed? A little help at the right time can be life changing or at least make the person’s day a little easier.
  5. Nose. Okay, this one is a bit of a stretch, but for kids and teens, it too can prove extremely helpful. Can your kids develop a “nose for trouble”? Can they sense when a choice someone is about to make could have negative consequences the person hasn’t considered? Can they sense when someone is worried or having troubles? Awareness is an important skill set for a Christian who wants to serve others and share their faith.

If you want your kids to impact the world for God, have them start here. Giving these five gifts daily may be all God asks them to do. On the other hand, giving these gifts daily may be preparing them for other good works God has prepared for them to do. Since they have been practicing these gifts, they are more likely to notice and complete those good works when they appear, too.

Teaching Your Kids to Hate Well

Hate seems a strange topic for a Christian parenting blog post, doesn’t it? I’ve always found it interesting that although the Bible tells us God IS love, God still has some things He hates. Since your kids are supposed to be learning how to reflect God’s image, it makes sense that God would want them to hate these things, too.

Gather your kids and ask them to name a few of their favorite foods. After they have named several, ask them to name some foods they hope you never serve them for a meal. After they name a few, ask them if it would be fair for you to say they hate those foods.

Your children’s response to that question will probably vary depending upon their age and whether or not they realize this is a family devotional. Since the topic is food, you can grant a little leeway on that particular answer. Then ask them if they think it is acceptable to hate a person or say to someone “I hate you!” when they are angry.

Hopefully, they will realize that hating people is not something God wants us to do. Now ask your kids if they have ever heard anyone say, “God is love.” Regardless of their answer, have them explain what they think that means.

After they have given a few responses, ask them,”Since God is love, can God hate something?” (not someone). Read Proverbs 6:16-19 to them. Help them list and then discuss the things these verses tell us God hates…

  • Haughty eyes
  • Lying tongue
  • Hands that shed innocent blood
  • Heart that devises wicked schemes
  • Feet that are quick to rush into evil
  • False witness who pours out lies
  • Stirring up dissension among brothers

As part of your discussion, help them think of real world examples of these behaviors today. Point out that it is actually the behaviors God hates. He still wants everyone, even people who do these things, to repent and become Christians. God loves everyone and hopes they will choose to worship and obey Him so they can spend eternity with Him in Heaven.

Ask your kids if they have ever done these things or encouraged others to do them? Do they say something when others encourage them to behave in these ways? How can they reflect God accurately in their hatred of these behaviors?

The depth of the discussion you have will depend upon the age and maturity of your kids. These behaviors and underlying attitudes are so common in humans, it’s actually important to have this same discussion regularly. Are they slipping into bad patterns or are they avoiding the things God hates? Regularly revisiting these verses will help them become part of your kids’ long term memories, ready to remind them how God feels about these behaviors and attitudes when they are tempted.

6 Signs You Are Raising a Victim

It’s important to understand that as a parent, you can’t always protect your kids from every bad thing that could happen to them. Sometimes, in spite of your best efforts, one or more of your kids will become a victim to an unfortunate circumstance, an illness or accident or even a crime.

When those truly bad things happen, your child will need a period of time to process and mourn the incident. That is normal and healthy. However, if they stay focused on that incident…if it begins defining who they are, then they will get stuck, unable to fully enjoy the rest of their lives.

Worse yet are children who are taught they are victims from birth. They are told in numerous ways that the world is out to get them and they will always be the victim. Once again, some people will live lives that are tougher than others. Refusing to define yourself or your kids as perpetual victims does not condone what others may do to you or them. It does not minimize the pain their words or actions cause. What refusing to see yourselves, define yourselves as perpetual victims, does is it allows you all to refuse to let those people and circumstances control you and the rest of your lives.

Refusing to define yourselves as victims allows you to process, mourn, forgive and then move on with your lives. You don’t become stuck. You don’t let it keep you from being who God wanted you to be. Yes, it may have some residual impact on you, but it shouldn’t define who you or your kids see themselves as….you should always view yourselves as beloved creations of God, with meaning and purpose.

The difference may sound subtle to you and difficult to really understand. It’s the difference between introducing yourself, “I’m Sam the robbery victim” and “I’m Sam (someone God loves and has plans for), who got robbed once.” The first sentence has Sam constantly reflecting and defining himself through the lens of that incident. The second has Sam defining himself as someone loved by God…whom God has planned good works for…that happened to be robbed once.

Not sure if you or your kids are defining yourselves as victims and not allowing yourselves to live the life God wants for you? Here are six signs of a victim mentality.

  • Continually thinking and talking about the incident long after it is over. After the initial processing and mourning period, there may occasionally be something that brings the incident to mind. It may also bring back some of those original feelings. That is normal. If, however, the incident is something thought about almost every day and especially multiple times each day, that can become problematic.
  • Constantly feeling sorry for yourself. If you or your child is constantly throwing a pity party, there may be a victim mindset developing. Everyone wants a little sympathy after a bad experience. If the pity parties are held frequently, chances are the one throwing the constant parties is developing or has developed a victim mindset.
  • Everything is always unjust or unfair. The perpetual victim also seeks perpetual sympathy. He or she tells every incident in a way that is designed for others to feel sorry for him or her. If that doesn’t work, they may try to convince the others they are also victims.
  • Always focuses on the negative. If there are two ways to look at an incident, the perpetual victim will only see the negative one. They find it impossible to see the silver lining, or see some good that came out of a bad situation. Think Eeyore on a really bad day.
  • Reframed events. If the teacher fussed at your child’s class, the teacher was just fussing at him or her. Every event is reframed so the perpetual victim was targeted. Obviously, your child will be targeted at times. If it’s constant though, you may be raising a victim or at least more investigation is warranted (for example, if a bully has actually targeted your child).
  • Acting helpless. On bad days, we all regress a bit. What adult hasn’t secretly had days when they wished they could be the kid again? Helplessness can manifest itself in a couple of ways. The first is often that there is no action the victim can take to prevent from becoming a victim again. In actuality, there may be several things that can be done to either prevent that type of incident from reoccurring or that will help achieve a better outcome if it were to happen again. If your children are constantly claiming they aren’t able to do things which they are perfectly capable of doing, that can also be a sign of a victim mindset or entitlement. Oddly enough, the victim mindset and entitlement often do appear together. Partially because often victims are told they can’t or shouldn’t do anything for themselves…particularly by predators who many times are also the perpetrators.

You can’t protect your kids from everything, but you can equip them to recover and continue living the lives God wants for them. It takes hard work and at times outside help, but it’s crucial if you want your kids to live a rich, full, Christian life.

Fun Way to Involve God in Your Family’s Plans

Recently, someone I know shared a special “bucket list” her young granddaughter had created. It listed everything she wanted to do with her family before her new baby sibling was born. As I read through the list, I realized with a few tweaks this could be a great tool for Christian parenting.

One of the problems with Christian parenting isn’t that we don’t have enough time or even the skills needed to parent well. It’s that we let the every day take control over our lives. We meander about, dealing with what is happening in the moment. We don’t consider what needs to be done or give ourselves any framework to help us remember to do those things that are critical for our kids’ spiritual development.

The idea of a bucket list is actually a perfect tool to help parents overcome this tendency to Christian parent without a plan. In fact, you might want to have several different bucket lists you refer to regularly to keep you on track. The best bucket lists for this purpose have time limits on them. You may have weekly or monthly bucket lists and then a childhood bucket list that covers everything you want to do over your kids’ time at home to help them grow spiritually.

So, my monthly bucket list might have “make drawings and take a meal to Mrs. Jones”, the elderly lady down the street. Or it might have something about how many family devotionals we want to have or chapters we want to read in the Bible. Your kids might want to add to the list. Think about adding fun things like taking a hike in the mountains to appreciate and thank God for His creation.

On that childhood bucket list, you may want to add things like study baptism with Johnny when he reaches the age of accountability (we have a free e-book to help you). Or maybe go on a parent/child trip with each individual child so you can spend one on one quality time discussing their spiritual hopes and dreams for the future.

Bucket lists can be private ones only you and your spouse see or they can be ones the entire family creates together. The trick to successful bucket lists is to review them regularly and be intentional about accomplishing each item on the list. So pull out some paper and pens and give bucket list Christian parenting a try!