Last night I was sitting with my kids during family VBS, and before they were dismissed to their classes, the worship leader explained to the children, "Well, it looks like the boys are ahead of the girls by only $1 in our efforts to raise money for Pioneer Bible Translators!" The boys cheered. The girls were not distraught, though. They had another day to bring their offerings and attempt to beat the boys in this friendly competition for a good cause.
By the end of the night, however, the girls were almost $40 ahead of the boys. That total alone was about three times as much as they raised the night before. I remember looking over at one little girl as her mom handed her a $5 bill and told her to run over to the offering bucket for the girls.
I have mixed feelings about this. It's great that the adults want to help out a good cause - and in some way show by example the importance of giving. But honestly I feel that the children should be taught how to give from their own earnings.
They should be taught that everything we have is not our own. God provides it all. And through our hard work, we give back a portion to ministries and opportunities that present themselves to us.
In Caleb's Sunday school class, they have been given small boxes to take home and fill up with change for an organization called Sweet Sleep. They provide beds to orphans but also provide life-saving mosquito nets to protect them from malaria through their "Nickels for Nets" program.
When I asked him about the box, he said he needed to put coins in it. He also said something like, "I guess I'll have to do more work!"
He knows this only because Josh and I do not hand him money for offering that he has not earned himself. When he was much smaller, he showed up many times without anything to give on a Sunday morning, because we had not set up a chore chart/earning chart yet. I just didn't feel like I was teaching him anything if I gave him the money to hand over at offering time.
But that might just be me.
I do not have any negative thoughts towards the mom I saw who gave her little girl $5 to take to the girls bucket. Not at all. I know it's common, and for small children who don't have an earning system in place at home, I can see why parents might do this. I'm not sure if the concept of giving is effectively taught in that way, though.
"Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver." 2 Corinthians 9:7
Let's teach our children how to cheerfully give of themselves without handing them a quarter at offering time. Let's see how much more it means when they earn it themselves and understand that they are giving back what God has given them.
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