A steward is one who manages another person’s property. As Christians, we know that all we have belongs to
God because it is sent to us from His gracious hand. Therefore, we are stewards of God’s possessions, including our children. And somehow, we need to find a way to teach them that same principle as it relates to their time, talents, and treasures.
One important area of stewardship relates to our treasure. Like every other area of stewardship, God is interested in the whole picture, not just a percentage. What we do with all our treasure is important to Him.
The matter of monetary stewardship affects at least four basic biblical areas of truth. These areas are essential in training our children concerning handling money.
First, we must teach our children how they get their money. According to James 1:17 (NASB), “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.” Children need to know God is the source of our money. He has also given us strong bodies and healthy minds by which we can earn our money. Many parents give their children a weekly allowance. This is good because the child is learning that money comes through honest work. It is also better to provide a weekly allowance than to pay the child for every single job he does. We do not live in a soci- ety where we are paid for each thing we do.
Secondly, God is interested in how we share our money. Our sinful nature wants us to keep our treasures for ourselves. This is inborn into our children. A godly example of parental sharing is basic to training our children in this matter.
From the beginning, children must learn God loves a cheerful giver — one who shares what he has with others. Training children to give from a happy heart and not grudgingly is essential.
There are different ways to teach a child to give to the Lord. The best way is for the parents to set the example. Discuss with the child how you give and the determining factors. When there are times you cannot give as much, talk about this with your children. Involve them in your giving. Parents should tell their children how they give, to what, and why. They should always express this privilege as a joy, not a duty or “have to” spirit of giving.
It is best to give your child an allowance so he can give from out of his own abundance – not yours. They need to be taught the sense of joy in letting go of something that belongs to them. Possession comes first – then the willingness to give with its attendant joy.
God is also interested in how we spend our money. It is important children learn to be content with needs, not wants.
And finally, God is interested in how we save our money. The first part of our money is for God, and then we save a specified amount. The rest should be used to purchase our needs and wants. God will honor this method of handling our money if we do it for Him.
The key to stewardship in these areas of time, talent, and treasure is none other than faithfulness. The best instruction is “caught and not taught” by parental example. As godly parents, we must follow Paul’s admonition in I Corinthians 15:58, “Therefore my dear brothers (parents), stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.” Let’s be the godly parents that God intends for us to be and diligently teach our children to wisely use the time, talents, and treasures that God has abundantly given to them for His glory.
Donna Miller is the mother of three grown daughters. She and her husband, Tom, are active members of the Winona Lake Grace Brethren Church, Winona Lake, Ind. This was adapted from an article in the November 1986 issue of the Brethren Missionary Herald.