“. . . it will be ready as a generous gift,
not as one grudgingly given.” – 2 Corinthians 9:5, NIV
Dad to daughter -
“. . . and when you do that, it’s obvious that, at that moment, you don’t care about your sister. It says, loud and clear –‘I don’t care what you think! I don’t care how it makes you feel! I’m in charge and we’re going to do it my way!’ – You don’t actually say that, but that’s what your sister hears.” (long pause, no response)
So what do you think about that?
“Ok.” (long pause)
“What you said.”
“What I said sounded nice? You’re glad I think so? What do you think about what I just explained?” . . .
Any parent can finish the next 5 minutes of dialogue. Getting a child to admit she’s in the wrong is often harder than conducting a tooth extraction. You want your child to readily own up to things. “Just admit it, we’ll give you grace and all will be well again” is our parental yearning. We know that if we pressure a forced confession, it’s basically meaningless, so we dance around trying every way we can think of to peel back the selfish nature and get to a true conviction.
How do you parent exuberant giving?
When it comes to the matter of giving and my kids, I face a similar challenge. How can I nurture an exuberant desire to give. I want to lead the horse to water but not make him drink. I want my kids to discover the true joy of non-compulsory, heart-induced giving.
In our parenting, my wife and I find that the breakthrough moments spontaneously generate more often than they result from our planned interaction. We had one of those sweet moments just this week. A month ago our girls went with their aunt to visit the crisis pregnancy ministry where their aunt volunteers. They learned about as much as 9 and 11 year olds could about the traumatic issues surrounding surprise pregnancy, moms in crisis and abortion.
The baby bottle drive
Then, last week, our church announced a drive to fill baby bottles with coins for mother’s day in support of the moms being served at the crisis pregnancy ministry. Afterwards the girls had questions and my wife spent a good deal of time talking through it with them.
Dad found out about it when they went around scrounging up any money they could find. That bottle was going to be filled! They interrupted my work to ask if I had coins in my pockets. They went to their piggy banks. Searched the house high and low for change. They found some stash of their money we didn’t even know about from allowances long, long ago. They were on a mission! The amazing part was how they were actually running, skipping and singing made-up songs about their mission as they scurried through the house. The quality of their giving was extravagant; their mood – exuberant!
My prayer as a dad
It’s been a long time since I had that much joy in giving. It gave me cause to pause – how stale my giving can become! Whether the focus of my giving is my church, the poor that Food for the Hungry walks with, or the little old lady across the street, the One who owns what I’m giving is most honored when it’s extravagantly done, with exuberance. That’s how He gives to me.
This incident with my girls also spurred me to stay on the lookout for those moments when I can naturally expose them to a need and provide a channel for giving at their level of capacity. Then I can ask God’s Spirit to lead them to respond and trust that He will.
Help me Lord to keep feeding their fires of exuberant giving!