A huge stumbling block to raising selfless children is the confusion that often arises between understanding what they truly need and what they merely want. Not accurately understanding the difference can eventually lead to all sorts of ungodly life choices. There’s a fun family devotional you can do to help your kids start realizing God’s view of the difference between needs and wants.
Grab your kids, a Bible and several magazines with ads and catalogs or plain paper and markers. Tell or read them the story about King Ahab and Naboth’s vineyard in 1 Kings 21. Explain that Naboth owned a vineyard. King Ahab wanted to plant a vegetable garden and decided that Naboth’s vineyard was the best place to plant his garden. Unfortunately, for Ahab, Naboth was unwilling to sell his land to the king. Instead of finding another place to plant his garden, Ahab forgot he had just wanted the land, but began to believe he needed it. His wife Jezebel stepped in and made matters worse, by telling Ahab that he basically deserved the land. She had Naboth framed for cursing God and king which meant he was stoned to death and Ahab seized the vineyard for his garden.
Explain to your kids that, while we may not go as far as Ahab and Jezebel, not recognizing the difference between our needs and our wants can lead us to making poor, ungodly and sinful choices. Challenge your kids to find or draw pictures of the things they want and the things they need. With older children, it is important to also discuss levels of need. For example, I need to have clothes to wear, but do I need a hundred pairs of shoes or a dress that costs $20,000?
Younger children may struggle with understanding they don’t need a toy, but merely want it. Older children and even you and your spouse may struggle to decide when a need has crossed the line to want. While the Bible doesn’t say we can never have anything we merely want, it is important to weigh the cost of that want and how purchasing it may prevent you from helping others who cannot meet their basic needs for food, clothing, shelter, etc.
Discussing needs versus wants needs to be ongoing in your home. Working with your kids to be careful to avoid selfishness and greed in pursuing their wants is key to them serving others and sharing their faith.