Did you grow up in Church hearing about tithes or that you needed to give 10% of your income? Have you heard about something called the “prosperity gospel”or been told to give a lot to Church so God will give you a lot of things? Do you struggle with how much to give or if you should give based on your net or gross income? If we are confused about how to give to God, how are we going to teach the concept to our children?
Jeff Anderson has written a little book called Plastic Donuts. In it, he re-examines Biblical giving and applies it to today. What he found was interesting. In spite of much Church talk of a tithe, about half of the offerings commanded in the Old Testament were actually freewill offerings. Of course the obvious question is, “How much is that?”
Have you ever seen a young child offer to share something and then cry when the person took them up on their offer? We may not cry when we give things to others, but sometimes there is a part of us that is calculating to make sure our generosity isn’t costing us too much.
Hopefully, we can train our children to give to others with open hands and open hearts. My friend Colleen recently shared with me a great activity she was doing with her son. She calls it the “Blessing Jar”.
I have a confession to make. I rarely ever make a recipe as written. Coming from a long line of “dump” cooks (who don’t measure at all), I am brave enough to experiment and come up with my own version of printed recipes. It’s no wonder, I tend to do the same with great ideas for teaching children.
I don’t really remember where I saw the original ideas (although Pinterest is always suspect!), but this combination of several might become a holiday tradition for your family. Call it the “Joy Challenge”.
Want to add a fun twist to your Thanksgiving celebration? Take a large jar and place beside it scraps of recycled paper and pens. Put the jar in a prominent place. Throughout the year, whenever someone is thankful for something, they write it on a slip of paper and throw it in the bowl. While you are waiting for that extra room to appear in your stomach so you can eat dessert Thanksgiving Day, pull out the bowl and start reading the slips.
Sometimes it is hard to remember to be thankful through your growling stomach. The chaos created just by getting everyone to the table may make people go blank if asked to share what they are grateful for this year. The jar not only reminds us of the things we are currently grateful for, but how much God has blessed us over the past year. The slips may bring back fun memories or help your family process the difficult times from the previous year.
Even if you have managed to banish the “gimmes” from your home, it doesn’t mean gratitude will automatically flood into your child. In some ways I think developing a constant “attitude of gratitude” is a lifelong process. Partially because it takes some life experiences to reinforce how much you really do have to be grateful for in your life. Or perhaps we just become too distracted with the annoyances of life to remember all of the things that are going “right”. Whatever the cause, parents can begin laying the groundwork for their children to become grateful.