Helping our children learn obedience

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When I was a kid, my parents gave me an allowance. A huge, mind-blowing amount of money that left me spoiled rotten.

$2.50.

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image credit: CreationSwap user Flip Ologenau

Even when I was a kid, that wasn’t much money. I remember my friends getting $5 per week. And other friends getting $10 or $20 for every ‘A’ they got on their report card. That made my $2.50 look puny.

But I loved getting it, nonetheless. I’d have my eye on a new video game, or a Reds cap, or a GI Joe, and I’d stash my money away in my top drawer and watch it grow. Ever. So. Slowly.

Every week, my dad would give me two $1 bills and 2 quarters. “Son, do what you want with this. But this (he’d say, holding up a quarter) is to give back to God.”

See, tithing is difficult enough. So my parents made it a bit easier by giving me money in denominations that were easily broken into percentages.

10% of $2.50 is $.25. Boom.

I’d take my $.25 and stuff it in the offering envelope, seal that thing up, and away we’d go. It became a habit, a regular part of my life. I grew to have a healthy understanding of money, and living generously. It was easier to give because:

  1. The money didn’t feel like it was “mine” that I’d earned or deserved…it had come straight from my dad’s hands.
  2. It went straight from my hand to the offering envelope.

Because giving became a part of my life from such an early age, even when I was older, and making money “of my own,” giving to my church was an expectation I had of myself. It wasn’t, and isn’t, easy (in fact, I’ve found in my life that making more money doesn’t guarantee that generosity is easier). But it’s much easier than if it hadn’t been built into my life from an early age.

I’m convinced that one of the major roles of parenting is teaching our children to learn to obey God. Not in an overbearing, exasperating, constantly hard-nosed kind of way. But in a way that is full of grace, mercy, and truth.

Obedience is hard you too, right? Whether it comes to obeying God in your finances, in your marriage, in your job, with the amount of food you eat or the kind of media you consume, obedience at nearly every level is difficult. We’ve got an enemy that prowls around like a lion, ready to devour us. (1 Peter 5:8) The same is true for our children. So let’s make it as easy as we possibly can for our children to obey us (and, by proxy, God).

Obedience isn’t easy, so don’t make it harder than it has to be. When it comes to tithing, our greed and proclivity to covet makes obedience especially difficult. Let your children see how easy it can be to give, helping them develop good, God-honoring habits early on in their life.

It is true:

Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. – Ephesians 6:1

But parents, let’s do our part to make that as easy as possible. Don’t stop with financial obedience! Remove barriers, crack strongholds, and clear pathways in more and more areas of their lives.

Our children will thank us later.

 

 

Christ follower, husband, father, writer, small groups pastor at Saddleback Community Church. Communications director for the Small Group Network.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

  • http://www.facebook.com/angie.millard.90 Angie Millard

    Got me to thinking about our 6 year old’s disobedient behavior lately. What could he simply be modeling from us that we are blind to in our own lives?

    • http://www.benreed.net Ben Reed

      Parenting is a humbling, revealing process, isn’t it?

  • http://somewiseguy.com/ ThatGuyKC

    We use chore charts for our kids and they earn “commission” each week and are “fined” for not doing required tasks (i.e., making bed, flushing the toilet).

    I’m glad my parents instilled tithing in me as a kid and we have the opportunity to pass on the legacy to our children.

    Good word, Ben.

    • http://www.benreed.net Ben Reed

      We did some similar stuff, KC. But I really like the “commission” and “fines.” Great idea!

      • http://somewiseguy.com/ ThatGuyKC

        Thank you. We learned it from Dave Ramsey. It’s how we got our son to stop biting his fingernails. Fined him a quarter for each nail he bit on a weekly basis. He was cured after 2.5 weeks. :)

  • Margaret Feinberg

    Ben, love this!

    • http://www.benreed.net Ben Reed

      Appreciate you saying something, Margaret!