Teaching Children to Give


Ok, so I’m a pretty dyed-in-the-wool Southern Baptist, which means I pretty much agree with all other Southern Baptists about two things:

  1. We will put you all the way under the water.
  2. We support the Cooperative Program.

I’m also a stewardship guy with kids. Miss E is about three years old now. I love that she’s really starting to get things. This has caused Mrs. J and I to have to kick up parenting a notch or two… thousand. Now is the time that I really have to start modeling behaviors that truly align with our values. You know, as opposed to before, right? And I’ve been thinking lately: how do I pass on lifestyle of stewardship to my kids?

My Stewardship Journey as a Child

As a child, my parents taught me by their actions and words this important truth (God owns it all). They also taught me to respond to this truth through giving.

When I was a child, our church would provide for each member of our family offering envelopes. We each had our box with our number on it (mine was 18 for what seemed like forever). Every Saturday my parents would give me a couple of quarters or a dollar bill to put in the envelope. This became such a consistent part of my childhood that I can still remember running up to Mom or Dad, saying “I need some quarters for my offering.”

That’s how I remember always calling it: my offering. Most every Sunday, as we left to go to church, one of them would ask us: “Do you have your Bible? Do you have your offering?” And most Sundays I would dutifully hand in my offering during Sunday School or put it in the plate as it passed.

We did this over and over again. This pattern is a deep grove in my childhood, the beginning of my stewardship.

So, I’ve been thinking: how do I pass it on?

Stewardship. Passing It On

Passing on stewardship habits across the generations has been one of the greatest struggles for the church and parents alike. I see the same problem in the nonprofits – parents struggle to pass on a legacy of giving. Why? We don’t teach our children to value what we value. While we may say that we value something, it’s only when we put action to our words that shows what we truly value.

The simplest starting point for passing on stewardship to children is to teach them to give offerings. Yes, you read that correctly – not just giving, but giving offerings. Our offerings are are not merely to the church, but are ultimately to the Lord. It’s time to put away the idea that we are only giving to an institution.

Teaching our kids to value stewardship and the worship we experience through giving offerings takes practice. Much like writing our ABCs, teaching children to give means that sometimes we take their hands in ours and help them put a dollar bill into an envelope. It means that when the plate is passed, we lower it for them to put their offering in. It means that we lift them up to where they can put an envelope into a benevolence box. It means every Sunday we ask them, “do you have your Bible and your offering?”

Stewardship has at its core an element of cultivation. It is our responsibility to show them how to make offerings to the Lord and provide them with opportunities.

Dusting Off The Envelopes

This is the simplest way I know how to teach kids to give offerings. It’s the way I learned:

  1. Gather up a stack of envelopes, some quarters or dollar bills, and some pen(cil)s.
  2. Sit down with your kids around the table.
  3. Have your kids write “Thank you, Jesus” on the envelopes.
  4. Give them their offering, and have them seal their offering in their envelope.
  5. Bring kids and offerings to church, and have them put it in the plate/basket/accepted-receptacle-of-choice at the appropriate time.
  6. Do it again.
  7. And again.
  8. And again until they remind you when you forget.

Your routine with your little ones may not look like this – that’s ok. What’s important is to pick a way, and stick with it until it becomes a rhythm in your worship patterns. As parents, it’s our job to show our children how to worship through offerings just as it is our job to teach them to sing praises, wash their hands, and write their ABCs. Someone is going to take our children’s hands into theirs and show them what to do with money. Let it be us, the parents.

A Few Updates and a Thank You

Me and Miss E out for a driveYou may have noticed a startling lack of posts, and you would be right. We’ve been running close to the red line for the past 6 months. Ok, we’ve been over the red line, Anyways, I wanted to just let you know that I’m still here, and will soon begin posting again on stewardship, fatherhood, and now business (new!). My MBA program is winding down, and I’m discovering new mental space to begin writing again. [Read more…]

Stewardship Daily | Overcoming Fear

Whom Then Shall I Fear Banner

In this post: when should we be afraid, what does overcoming fear look like, and what does fear have to do with stewardship.

When Should We Be Afraid?

Tell me if you’ve heard this phase before: “Well, I would be afraid that…”

I’ve heard that phrase all my life from more folks than I can count. That little phrase sums up the sober relationship so many of us have to the unknown: immediate fear because it is unknown.

What causes us to fear? Consider the following from Wikipedia:

Fear is a feeling induced by perceived danger or threat that occurs in certain types of organisms, which causes a change in metabolic and organ functions and ultimately a change in behavior, such as fleeing, hiding or freezing from perceived traumatic events. Fear in human beings may occur in response to a specific stimulus occurring in the present, or in anticipation or expectation of a future threat perceived as a risk to body or life.

Article on “Fear” from Wikipedia.org

Fear comes from the perception of what can harm us. We learn what to fear through experience. However, we do not have to be in danger to experience fear — just the anticipation of danger is enough to trigger a fear response.

When I say to myself “I would be afraid,” I’ve come to realize that I’m indulging two dangerous attitudes about when to be afraid:

  1. That it is alright to be afraid because an event/thing/person/etc. is uncertain (i.e., unknowable and uncontrollable).
  2. That it is alright to be afraid ahead of time (i.e., to worry).

These attitudes are dangerous because they don’t reflect the reality in which believers walk. Uncertainty does not always correlate with Murphy’s Law. Likewise, the future is not a smorgasbord of chaos about to unfold on your front door, especially in the face of Jesus’ assurances that he is in control.

Overcoming Fear. Upgrading Your Truth

Fear is learned, and rightly so. Fear keeps us alive. Proper fear is healthy and normal. However, living in constant fear and worry is not normal or proper (at least for believers). Overcoming fear requires learning a new lesson.

Scripture reveals a reality that we would not otherwise apprehend, especially about God. Experience teaches us that the unknown will harm us. Scripture teaches us that God knows and is in control of everything. Experience tells us that we can only rely on ourselves. Scripture reveals that God is faithful to our every true need. Experience teaches us to put our faith in people and objects of power. Scripture repeatedly calls us to fear God alone, and to trust Him in the face of uncertainty, pain, and persecution.*

What Does Fear Have to Do with Stewardship?

A stewardship is a commission to a servant to manage something on an owner’s behalf. When we fear men, circumstances, or uncertainty, we will not discharge the calling that God has placed on our life with the same vigor or effect as one who fears God alone.

I have seen this in my own life. As one called to minister to the church, I am often tempted to be fearful of what church members will do. My experience with several church conflicts tempts me to worry and “hedge my bets” when it comes to ministry. But I’m continually learning to go to the Lord with this fear first, because my ministry –my stewardship– is usually at its least effective when I am embroiled in fears about the people that I serve.

Satan uses inappropriate fears to drive a wedge between the people we are called to love and the God who calls us to love him. Fears and anxieties are real, but contrary to the temptation, they are not insurmountable. Fear can be overcome. Though Satan may call us cowards, we are more than conquerors in the Lord.



*Ref: Matthew 10:28; Luke 12:4-5; Hebrews 13:6



Stewardship Daily | Overcoming the World

Overcoming the World. "And every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you heard was coming and now is in the world already. Little children, you are from God and have overcome them, for he who is in you is greater than he who is in the world." -1 John 4:3-4 ESV

“And every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you heard was coming and now is in the world already. Little children, you are from God and have overcome them, for he who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.”
-1 John 4:3-4 ESV

Scripture never suggests that anyone can defeat the Evil One on their own. He is indeed greater than any mere mortal. But the will of God in the life of the believer is much greater than the power of the Evil One. It is by the power of God, and God alone, that we overcome.

Satan commands unfathomable dark power. He bends rulers and armies to his will. He stirs up confusion, misery, and death wherever he goes. His mission is to usurp God off of His throne and destroy anything in which God delights. And yet, Satan is not all-knowing or all-powerful.

Overcoming the World Takes a Greater Will

By ourselves, we cannot defeat Satan. He is able to overcome any human will. Even the Christian’s.

Perish the thought?

Scripture is chocked full of warnings for believers who would step out of God’s will. Yes, believers.

This thought is stinging, but true. We are all easily tempted and led astray. Our apprehensions of truth apart from the fortifications of Scripture and submission to the Holy Spirit do not long last against the temptations and schemes of the Evil One.

Overcoming the world only happens one way: abiding in the will of God. Satan is certainly strong, but the will of God is greater than the will of Satan. As John teaches us, overcoming the world is a natural outflow of the Spirit who is in us. When our thoughts, actions, and attitudes move in concert with the will of the Holy Spirit, then we have the victory.


Bowtie Selfies and 5 Lessons on Consistency

I know this sounds silly, but I did it anyways. I was challenged to post a daily picture of a bowtie selfie until I ran out.. just to see how many I had. So, I thought, what the heck? Why not. Normally, I am not a selfie person — I wasn’t expecting to learn anything from a bunch of bowtie selfie pics, but I have this habit of noticing trends, and wouldn’t you know it, I learned something.

The Challenge: A Bowtie Selfie A Day

bowtie selfie 1 bowtie selfie 2 bowtie selfie 3 bowtie selfie 4 bowtie selfie 5 bowtie selfie 6 bowtie selfie 7 bowtie selfie 8

First of all, I didn’t use every bowtie I own. I picked the eight best over two weeks (we have casual Friday at work).

The Lessons

  1. When you commit to something, people expect you to show up. Promises have tiny grace periods. People expect you to do what you say.
  2. Consistency is nourished on accountability. If I was even five minutes late posting my picture, I started getting messages.
  3. Consistency leads to recognition. The act of showing up every day at the same time with a new photo caused a modest increase in people interacting with me on social media.
  4. Consistent is better than perfect. That being said, if we wait for “flawless,” we’ll never be reliable. Doing something well doesn’t have to be the same as creating a masterpiece. Note: none of those photos come close to perfect.
  5. Consistency will translate into faithfulness. The choices and actions that we repeat over and over are the foundation of our character.


Good old fashioned playfulness can lead to surprising insights. Have you learned anything lately through play?