TEACHING YOUR CHILDREN CHRISTIAN STEWARDSHIP
- Learn and model four important financial principles for your children.
- Train your children in the steps of financial decision making.
- Teach your children how to make a budget and manage their money
Children and Christian Stewardship
Key Scripture: For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through endurance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope. -Romans 15:4.
**The material in this chapter has been condensed from Ron and Judy Blue's book, Money Matters for Parents and Their Kids (Oliver-Nelson Books, Nashville TN, 1988). The authors write out their own experience teaching stewardship to their five children. You can benefit greatly from reading the book, which gives suggestions for teaching your children how to become financially independent, how to make sound investments, and even how to recognize a financial scam.**
Teens are one of the most affluent groups in society today. Total expenditures by American teenagers almost doubled between the years of 1976 and 1986, despite the fact that there were 5.3 million fewer teen in 1986. Teenage spending has been called the "green machine" because it has increased every year since 1953 despite recessions and even the drop in the size of the group. Even more important than what they spend is their tremendous influence on the family's budget--from entertainment, eating out, and clothes to big ticket items such as automobiles. Several important teen attitudes toward money and possessions were revealed in a Rand Youth Poll. Spending on and by teenagers will reach $208.7 billion in 2011, up from $189.7 billion in 2006, according to Packaged Facts' "The Teens Market in the US" report. The spending increase is expected despite an estimated 3% decline in the 12-to-17-year-old population by 2011. The vast majority of America's young people labeled themselves and their peers as wasteful in shopping, spending, and saving habits.
Teen financial problems seem to related to an uncertain economic environment, poor training, and a lack of good role models in the family, in the church, and in national leadership. Few parents are trained adequately to manage money; therefore, they feel ill-equipped to teach their children. However, modern parents still have the same call and promise as previous generations:
God has called you to be a good steward. "Now it is required that those who have been given a trust must prove faithful" - 1 Corinthians 4:2.
God has called you to train your children. "Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it" - Proverbs 22:6.
God has promised to complete the good work he has begun in you, "Being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus" - Philippians 1:6.
Christian Financial Principles
Parental modeling of financial principles influences children far more than any teaching. Four financial principles that should be modeled in every Christian home are:
God owns it all. "Although the whole earth is mine, you will be for me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation" - Exodus 19: 5-6.
To teach your children that God owns it all, you must demonstrate prayerful decision making in your own life. Show your children that you control financial resources instead of being controlled by them. The most significant demonstration of that freedom is in the area of tithing and giving. Let them see that the tithe is not simply returning to God "his share."
Recall the deed you signed in Chapter 1 committing ownership of your resources -- money, home, time, etc. -- to their rightful owner. Suggest that your children sign a similar deed. Give regularly as God has prospered you. Be a channel to meet the needs of others. Encourage even young children to give regularly from their allowances.
A trade-off always exists between time and effort and money and rewards. "Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously" - 2 Corinthians 9:6
Many people spend their lives pursuing the illusion that you can get something for nothing. The Bible makes it clear that work is the only way to provide for ourselves economically. We must work because we are commanded to. Child should not be paid for every job that they do around the house since they need to experience the satisfaction of obedience. Work has value in and of itself above and beyond its economic benefit. The self-satisfaction of having done a good job provides a further motivation to work; therefore, satisfying work is a self-perpetuating process. As Solomon said, "All hard work brings a profit" -Proverbs 14:23
There is no such thing as an independent financial decision. "After he had spent everything, there was a severe famine in that whole country, and he began to be in need" -- Luke 15:14
Once money is spent it is no longer available for any future use. Three facts are important to remember: (1) There is a limited supply of money; (2) You cannot have everything; and (3) Your current spending decision will impact all your other goals.
Delayed gratification is the key to financial maturity."Give her the reward she has earned, and let her works bring her praise at the city gate" -- Proverbs 31:31
Financial maturity, as you may recall, is giving up today's desires (short-term) for future benefits (long-term). Teaching children the importance of delayed gratification is better "caught" than "taught." One way to emphasize this principle is to require that your children maintain a savings account. A portion of all money they receive should go into the account. They should be allowed to make withdrawals for major purchases such as a bicycle or stereo. This serves two purposes: (1) They will enjoy the thrill of buying a desired object by saving for it; and (2) They will quickly learn that their resources are limited. Delayed gratification may be the most difficult principle to teach, but it is biblical, practical, and well worth the effort. The caution, however, is to be balanced in your perspective of money, for money is nothing more than a resource. Accumulation of money should not be the only objective in life.
After determining the principles you want your children to learn, allow them to practice specific skills. A principle is a general rule that transcends specific situations while a skill applies a principle by repeated practice. Let your children have responsibilities and allow them to learn from their mistakes. Give them money to manage. By the time the young person is ready to leave home, he or she should have developed four financial "How to's."
-How to develop a one-year spending plan (budget).
-How to buy wisely.
-How to make financial decisions.
-How to set financial goals.
Teaching Decision Making
There are three common traps that must be learned before beginning the decision-making process. The first one is the binary trap, which I have only two alternatives. (Giving yourself only two alternatives may leave out the best choice.) The second pitfall is the intuitive trap in which a decision is made on how you "feel" about it. The final one is the voting trap in which you make a decision solely on a survey made of your friends. After recognizing these three dangers, you are ready to go on to the decision-making process.
-Write out or verbalize this decision.
-List the objective.
-Prioritize the objectives.
-List all possible alternatives.
-Evaluate all alternatives.
-Choose the best alternative.
Chart 8-A, "Decision: Choosing a College," is an excellent example of how to list your objectives and prioritize them. Look this chart over carefully.
Worksheet 8-A, "Making a Decision," allows you to practice making your own decisions. Stop now and practice your own decision-making skills.
In teaching your children to make short-term decisions, frequently point them toward their real objectives and priorities. Continually ask them, "Are there other alternatives?" Once their decision is made, give them feedback by asking questions such as, "Did it really accomplish our objectives?" or "Would another alternative have been better?" As you guide them through the process, you must stop making decisions for them. Give them the freedom to learn through their failures (and successes) while you are still available to help and counsel them.
The important skill of buying wisely is not easy to teach your children in an easy-credit society. However, with a love of patience and perseverance, you can do it. Some helpful hints include: (1) letting them share in the decision-making process when you shop, (2) giving them counsel and the freedom to fail in their buying decisions (3) having both scheduled and spontaneous family conferences, and (4) allowing them to participate in the repairs and maintenance of the home and the cars.
For the sake of your children and grandchildren, prayerfully and faithfully make a serious, long-term commitment to train your children in financial management. Record your agreement here.