Parents want to raise generous kids. We desire our children to be giving individuals who care about and share with others. After all, none of us are longing for our families to leave a legacy of selfish or stingy lives. However, we also wonder, “will a lifestyle of generosity ever occur?”
I think we all know what happens when you put two preschoolers in the room with only one toy. Usually, two kids end up in the time-out chair. But there is good news. A few years ago, the Barna Group conducted a study on how different generations viewed generosity. While this study was very insightful, it revealed one surprising trend. Kids raised in generous homes are far more likely to be generous as adults. So there is hope for all of us who might not see generosity oozing from our kids when they are young.
Generosity is both a struggle and an opportunity for all ages. First, let me take a few moments to reveal some families in the Bible that can serve as giving heroes for us. They didn’t always get it right, but they stayed in the game. Then I will close with a few tips to help us grow generosity as an unstoppable family value.
Generous Families in the Bible
The first family has always been very inspirational to me. They are our first giving heroes. Did it occur to you that the very first activity of the very first family ever recorded in the Bible is a story of generosity? The first family makes a generous gift to God. Abel gets it right, but Cain falls a little short. Then God offers Cain a do-over by grace, but Cain succumbs to shame.
Giving has always been an important part of family and faith life. Giving connects us better to each other and to our God. We do not always get it right, but there is always grace. However, a lot of us struggle with the perpetual feeling that we are somehow failing at the generous life.
Now, let’s move to a story about some grown up sisters. Mary and Martha are different kinds of giving heroes. When Jesus came into their home, Mary decided to practice generosity of presence by simply sitting and listening. Martha was more about service generosity so she busied herself with preparing a meal for unexpected guests.
Life can be stressful and surprising. Generosity has important expressions in the home under both circumstances. As a parent, I am continually surprised by what I miss when I do not stop to really listen to what my children are expressing beyond their words. I can get so tied up in the importance of doing, providing, and protecting that I forget the many ways generosity is needed around the house. All ways are important, having their perfect time and place.
Both stories reveal that there is always an opportunity to be generous along with a moment of learning to live the giving way better in the future.
Finally, let’s look at Cornelius in Acts 10 as another inspiring giving hero. He is only mentioned in this one chapter in the Bible. Cornelius is not an apostle, prophet, disciple, or pastor. His background is not elite. Yet, his family is known for three things. He believed, prayed, and gave. Pretty simple acts that any family can do as individuals or together.
Impactful generosity is not about the amount, but the consistency and repetition in the little things. These simple habits led to an amazing revelation. God recognized them and opened the door of legacy as Cornelius played an important role in getting a message to the apostle Peter.
Tips for raising a generous family
- Name it. There are so many tasks in life that consume our time. If we do not name a few important attributes that we desire to be our legacy, we will never get around to prioritizing them.
- Model it. Begin with yourself before you start making a calendar of family generosity opportunities. This season of living giving will be great learning for you.
- Practice it. Create generous activities like talking with your family about financial generosity at church or serving generosity by helping a family friend. Be sure to discuss the entire process openly with your family so everyone is going on the same journey together.
- Plan it. Now that you have some momentum, create a family generosity experiment. Commit to splitting meals for a season then donate the saved resources to a local nonprofit. Consider opening your home by inviting different neighbors over for dessert all summer long. Volunteer your time as a family on a mission trip or local project.
Be encouraged that raising a generous family is possible, but we will not get it right all the time. Regardless of age there is a giving expression with an opportunity to learn. Make it a priority today, stay in the game, and watch what becomes unstoppable on another day. These aren’t the only giving heroes in the Bible. We could have looked at the story of Ruth, the boy with the fishes and loaves, or the widow’s mite. Take your family on a journey of discovering inspiring Bible giving heroes to unleash generosity in your home today.