(Inside: Create a culture of family giving through the Once-a-Month Strategy. Teach your kids to notice needs and be intentional with actions.)
We are trying to create a family culture of giving in our home. But, it’s hard. Because “stuff” sucks us all in, doesn’t it.
Yes, kids, you do need one more lego set to add to the one million you already have. (Then all the complaining when it’s time to pick up…but no, we don’t have too much stuff.)
And I think those new pair of shoes are calling my name… (Then, annoyance when we look a the credit card bill.)
Yes, I need to sign you up for one more basketball clinic. (When really, we couldn’ve saved the money, and our kid could’ve practiced dribbling drills on the driveway.)
And on and on.
It’s not all bad. “Stuff” isn’t inherently bad.
But, I wanted to think about these “how much stuff we have” versus “giving” ideas.
Specifically, my heart was stirred to reflect on what it really meant to say that you are a Christian and follow Jesus. I read two books that challenged my thinking: 7: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess by Jen Hatmaker and Radical: Taking Back Your Faith from the American Dream by David Platt.
The books stretched me to analyze how much stuff we have that are wants and not needs. It also made me think about my role as a follower of Christ. It’s all too much to unpack right here (I highly recommend the books), but in our current situation, how we were living our life, we felt moved to make a few changes.
Mainly, in this season, we want to give more, take less, and share God’s love in a more tangible way.
So we started a few months back a once-a-month journey where we try and pay attention to the world around us, and the giving opportunities that present themselves, and intentionally give every month. This month, the high school where I teach was participating in a school-wide food drive to help stock a local food shelf.
We took our boys’ shopping and filled our cart – what a great lesson for our kids.
But then prideful me was all I’m so inspirational, my students will see me give and be like, I want to give too! Mrs. Donely is such a great example. She’s changed my life. What would we do without her? Blah-blah-blah! (My pride laughing at me, not with me. I can be ridiculous.)
Because, no such luck.
Not one student brought food to share. Not one. (Nomination for Inspirational Teacher of the Year – never happening.)
When I received an email saying my class had won one of the food drive days for bringing the most food. I had to quietly email the teacher back that my students didn’t bring any food at all, and to give the reward to the next highest class of food donators.
I have to admit I felt discouraged. I had success with my own kids, I’d secretly hoped to inspire my students.
But, I’ve learned that success isn’t always measured in results. There is value in a seed of generosity being planted.
For my students, maybe next time the seed will sprout into the action of actual giving. (And how well do I really know some of those kids’ stories? Some could be the ones needing the food.)
I set an example for both my kids and my students. This month, we followed God’s call to feed the hungry. That is enough for me to declare April a success.
Create a family culture of giving. Read more about our once-a-month giving strategy.
“The benefits of actively fostering children’s charitable impulses are enormous. Besides helping counter the overdeveloped ‘gimme’ impulse, it gives kids a powerful boost in self-esteem to realize they can make a difference in someone’s life. ‘And as corny as it sounds,’ says Patricia Schiff Estess, a New York City writer and the author of (Amazon affiliate link) Kids, Money & Values, ‘when you help a child help others, you are helping to create a better world.'”
That lesson floating around our home for a year? Yes, please.
So, we started what we’re calling the “Once a Month” strategy. Each month, we looked for a way to give, and very often, it involves just noticing what’s already in front of us. (Convenient!)
Here’s how the once-a-month giving strategy rolled out:
If you decide to take use this giving strategy, remember this is YOUR THING. Do what God places on YOUR HEART. Whatever works, big or little. Your family will be moved by however you decide to extend your hand. And hopefully, so will the people you give to.
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Cheryl is a mom of 3 boys, wife, speaker, high school teacher, and author of Empowered Moms & Kids. She has a Master’s degree in Educational Leadership and is passionate about learning and teaching. On www.empoweredmomsandkids.com you’ll find inspiration and encouragement for moms raising tweens and/or teens. Read more in the “about” section of this page.