What Our Children Are Teaching Us About Being Givers

By Crystal Paine, Contributing Writer

Ten years ago, when my husband and I were first married, frugality was a must. If we didn’t pinch pennies, we couldn’t survive — or at least not without racking up a serious amount of debt and financial trouble down the road.

So we pinched pennies, did without, and prayed that we’d make it until the next paycheck came in. Times were lean, but God was always faithful.

As our income increased, there was the temptation to also increase our standard of living. However, after years of doing without, we found that we were content with living simply.

In addition, frugality has become a means to an end for us. We don’t have to pinch pennies anymore, but we continue to choose to live on a strict budget because by stewarding our money well, we’re in a position to give to others. The less we spend on ourselves, the more we have to share with others.

Most of all, we’ve found there is so much blessing in living a life with outstretched arms. When you allow God to pour through you to others — without holding back — He just continues to pour His blessings through you. Truly, you can’t outgive God!

We’ve sought to model giving before our children, encouraging them from a young age to earn money so they can pay cash for things they want, as well as have money to give to our local church, to those in need, and to bless others with gifts.

We weren’t sure if all of our teaching was really sinking in until last year when we were blown away when our then six-year-old daughter said she wanted to invest all of her savings to put together 10 Operation Christmas Child boxes. It was such a joy to see her find so much fulfillment in giving her money away to bless others. And her selfless spirit challenged and convicted us!

This fall, as we were discussing the possibility of what giving project we wanted to do as a family, my daughters hatched a plan — all on their own — to fund a project through Samaritan’s Purse. They looked through the Samaritan’s Purse Gift Catalog and debated which of the giving opportunities would have the most lasting impact.

After some discussion and number-crunching, they came to us and presented their idea for our family to fund a water project. They created a box to put the money in and they told us that they’d pooled their money and were going to donate pretty much all of their savings, but that they’d need our help to pull off the project.

What could we say? We were dumbfounded and touched at their giving spirits. And, of course, we eagerly agreed to participate.

Every week, Jesse and I would contribute from our cash envelopes, whatever extras we could come up with after paying for the necessary expenses. And each week, the girls did extra chores and collected their coins to put into the Water Project Box.

Once a week, they’d dump out all the cash and count it to see how close were to being able to fund the water project. We had so much fun watching them get all excited as we inched closer and closer to our goal. And we were continually inspired to look for additional cash we could set aside for this project.

A few days ago, we sat down and counted all of the money and had enough to fund the water project, plus some extras to buy a few flocks of chickens, too. Our children are absolutely ecstatic about this and keep talking about how these things are going to directly impact the lives of families (and maybe a whole village!) somewhere in the world.

I share all of this not to hold ourselves up as some perfect examples. We’re far from that! Our children (and us!) still have the case of the “gimmes” on a regular basis. There are times when giving up things we want is hard. There are also times when sticking to a budget isn’t glamorous or fun.

But we’re learning, together as a family, that it is truly more blessed to give than to receive. We want to live that out — not just at Christmastime — but every single day.

What have your children taught you about being givers?

About Crystal Paine

More than anything in the world, Crystal Paine loves Jesus and wants her life to be poured out in love for Him. She also loves being a wife and homeschool mom to three (though she definitely has moments when she wishes she could throw in the towel -- if only she could find a clean one!) She's a self-proclaimed minimalist in just about every area but books (because you can never have too many books, can you?) and one of her favorite things is having a heart-to-heart conversation with a friend over a good cup of coffee. Through her blog, MoneySavingMom.com, Crystal seeks to encourage and challenge women to wisely steward their time and resources and live life on purpose.

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Comments

  1. What I loved most about this post was seeing “inside” Money Saving Mom :) Frugality, saving, and scrimping are great, but to be wise in stewardship, AND generous…that’s a rare combination you don’t see everyday. I love it.

  2. Your girls are totally precious! You have touch and inspired many many lies with your article Thank you so much for teaching your children about giving and also trusting the Lord to provide your personal needs.

  3. Our daughter wanted to gave a gift of compression (from the Compassion gift catalog) in the name of all her school friend this year. So she bought some chickens and mosquito nets. I thought this is so neat. In the proses I too ordered something, not sure if I would have done it on my own. So she gets the credits to be an example of a giver to me.

  4. Each of my three older children (ages 6, 8, 9) fill a shoebox each year, which they love. Our AWANA club decided to let each group of children pick 2-3 things out of the Samaritan’s Purse Catalog and raise money for the items. We have posters with pictures of their goals, tracking the earnings. It is awesome seeing my children, along with others, get so excited at the thought of sending things to people who need them.

  5. When I was a kid, we did the shoeboxes but I always wanted to do one of the extra projects (the ones at the time I was passionate about were helping out agriculturally and sending seeds and baby chicks). This is such a great idea! I hope that I can be as successful with planting a seed of generosity in my children’s hearts and you have been! Thanks for the encouragement and inspiration (my kids are only 4, 3, and 2 – my 4 year old is just this year learning the importance of giving rather than just receiving!).

  6. Sweet post!

  7. We’ve had a similar experience with our oldest. Her heart is so incredibly generous and she is so eager to give to others. We’ve been doing a number of giving-focused things lately. The other day she said “Mom, do you think we’re helping the whole state??” :-)

  8. How incredibly awesome! My mom came to us this year with the idea of putting together blessing bags for the homeless in our area (we live very close to a large city) for Christmas. My kids were so excited about it and can’t wait to put the bags together and go hand them out. They are already talking about what we can do during the next year to keep helping the homeless. I’m excited to watch their giving spirits grow! Thanks for sharing today!

  9. What an inspiring family project. Learning project too as they counted up money until their goal was met.

  10. Wow! I am just blown away by your daughters AND you, Crystal. Thank you for sharing this. Our 4 yo has just gotten used to giving away her toys and clothes, but hasn’t yet reached the saving money for a cause stage. I hope if we continue to model giving and charity, she’ll pick up soon enough:-)

    Thanks Crystal.

  11. i wrote about this very thing today. finding ways to change the world in small ways with our children by our side. thank you for this!! i’m going to read it with my children to encourage them:)))

Trackbacks

  1. [...] Last year, I shared with you how my daughter Kathrynne taught me about giving through her Operation Christmas Child Project. This fall, as we were considering what giving project we wanted to do as a family this Christmas, our daughters challenged us to think big. [...]