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About this series
This Christmas, how do you give your children what money can't buy? We all desire to give gifts of significant value, but what does that really look like? What “Priceless” gifts can we give? In this series, Chip unpacks 5 key areas that tend to make or break our children and gives solid biblical insight and practical steps for managing those 5 important life skills. As a parent, or grandparent, you want to give your child every advantage in life. A “Priceless” Christmas gives you the tools to help your child develop godly character and important life-skills. Your life, their lives, and the lives of generations to come will never be the same.More from this series
There is an awkward moment in every parent’s life when your kids hit that pre-teen age and you take a deep breath and you realize, you know, you need to have “the talk.” I mean, the big talk. The talk that makes you uncomfortable, very committed men and women often come to me when they realize they need to have “the talk” with one of their kids and they say, “Do you have any resources or have you done this with your kids?” And kind of, “What did you say? And I’m kind of uncomfortable.”
And the conversation at home goes something like this, “You know, honey, why don’t you have ‘the talk’ with them? You’re really better at this.” And then answer is normally, “Well, don’t you think she needs to hear that from her mother?” Or conversely, “Well, don’t you think he really needs to hear that from his father?”
And sadly, despite all the information there is about “the talk” and how important “the talk” is, even from very strong Christian homes, most children never hear about the subject from their mom or their dad.
Most of them pick up their values from the media or TV or friends and they just kind of catch it. And unfortunately, when you don’t talk about this subject, and have ongoing discussion and education, after the “big talk” with your kids, it is probably the clearest predictor of heartache, of pain, and suffering in the future; of dissolving relationships, and in many, many cases walking away from the faith.
And so, one of the questions I want to have for you as we start this is, “Have you had ‘the talk’ with your kids, regardless of their age?”
Now at this point in time, I’m imagining some of you are thinking to yourself, “Oh, wow, you know? They’ve already hit those teenage years and we’ve sort of hinted around ‘the talk.’” And you’re thinking that I’m really talking about the S-E-X talk.
And if you haven’t had that talk, let me encourage you, you need to have that talk. But that’s not the one that I’m talking about. The one that I’m talking about, this subject, if you don’t cover it clearly and well and with ongoing strategy and education, I mean, the implications are significantly more important for your kids than the sex talk.
What I’m talking about this morning is the money talk. If you’ll open your notes with me, I want to talk to you about giving a priceless gift to your children and it’s maybe a gift that you haven’t thought about.
Let me tell you why the money talk is so important. And now let me ask you, since your mind is in a different place, have you had the money talk with your kids?
Now, notice the implications if your kids don’t think and have biblical values around money. Number one, money issues cause fifty percent of all divorces. If your kids don’t learn about money and learn about it well and how to think about it and handle their money, they are set up in their marriage relationship, about half of them, have huge issues here.
The second reason you need to have the money talk is it will direct the course of their hearts. Money directs the course of people’s hearts. Jesus said in Matthew 6:21, “Wherever your treasure is, there your heart will follow.” So, wherever your kids consciously or unconsciously learn from you and others to put their money, that’s where their heart is going to land. And if it lands in places where God isn’t, then they won’t be following Christ.
The third reason to have the money talk is money is the number one competitor for your child’s soul. Have you ever thought about it like that? Your child or someone in your small group, their soul is up for grabs.
Luke chapter 12, Jesus, in response to someone who screamed out of the crowd, “Hey! Tell my brother to share the inheritance that he got with me!” And Jesus responded and said, “Who made Me judge over that?” But His application in Luke 15 was, “Watch out and be on your guard against all kinds of greed, because a man’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.”
And then just to make the point, He told this little story. He said, “There was a man that grew richer and richer and richer and he had no room for his riches. And he said to himself, ‘This is what I’ll do. I’ll build bigger and bigger barns, and I’ll take all my riches and I’ll put it in these barns. And then I’m going to relax and have an easy, comfortable, “retirement type” life. I’m going to eat, drink, and be merry.’”
And then Jesus says in the story, “You fool! For this very night, God will require your life of you.” And then He makes this application to this large crowd listening to Him. He goes, “And so it will be with everyone who is not rich toward God.”
And He makes this point that how you think about money. He says there’s going to be two competitors: There’s God and there’s money. Often we think of, there’s good and evil and we think God and Satan.
That’s not what the Bible teaches. The Bible teaches there are two gods: There’s God and there’s money. Now, Satan and demonic forces may cause you to believe that money can deliver some things. But those are the two gods that compete for your kids’ souls. Have you had the money talk?
Final reason to have the money talk is this: Money problems are the root of greed, envy, debt, workaholism, pride, conflict, anger, guilt, and lack of contentment and peace.
The apostle Paul would write to his young son in the faith. He said, “People who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge men into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is,” not “the” root, but, “a root of all kinds of evil, and some people eager for money have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.”
Here’s all I want you to get. Most of us don’t think clearly or think that giving our kids a wise preparation about finances and money is all that important. That lack of preparation is probably one of the greatest hindrances for your child’s success with God, success with people, success in work, personal peace, a great relationship in the future. And if you haven’t had the money talk, then one of the most priceless gifts, bigger and better than any gift you’ll give them this Christmas or any other Christmas, is to sit down with them and teach them to manage their money biblically.
Teach them to manage their money in a way that aligns their heart and their life and their priorities around what God says because the reason Jesus talks so much about money, it’s the tool where you teach values. It’s the tool where you teach priorities. And it’s measurable. It’s so clear you can know exactly where your kids are at and you teach them through money.
And so, with that, open your notes, if you would, or from the sound that I heard, I will open my notes and catch up with you. And I want to do this, very simply, I want to give you a theology of stewardship, and then I want to get you along the road to some very practical ways to teach your kids about how to manage their money biblically.
A theology of stewardship, point number one, is that God owns everything. Psalm 50:12, the Lord says, “If I were hungry I would not tell you, for the earth is Mine, and everything in it.” This is the game changer for your kids.
Psalm 24 says exactly the same thing. God owns everything. So, we’re stewards or managers. Your kids need to get from early ages into the pre-teens and teenage years, adult years, and even when they’re completely grown and when you’re trying to figure out what to leave them or what not to leave them, and whether they’re responsible.
It’s not yours, it’s not theirs, it’s His. And so, your job is to be a good steward. Your job and their job is to teach them what they’re to do with God’s time entrusted to them, what they’re supposed to do with God’s talent entrusted to them, and what they’re to do with God’s money.
Second in the theology of stewardship is God has entrusted His things – time, talent, and treasure – to us to manage for Him. See, this will change your kids’ attitudes about stuff, about life, about the future.
It’s Christmas time, at Christmas time I love to read stories. I did it when my kids were small and I want you to lean back, you can follow along if you’d like. It’s in Matthew chapter 25. But I want you to hear a story because Jesus talks so much about this idea of stewardship, and there are so many core principles. This one story encapsulates most all of them.
So lean back and when I share this story, what I want you to understand is Jesus was very clearly teaching that God owns everything, He’s the Master in this story, that He’s going to go away for a period, which He did, He went to heaven, that He’s going to come back, and He’s going to ask people to give an account for what He loaned to them to manage for Him.
The story is in Matthew 25 and we pick it up in verse 14. Try and picture in your mind’s eye, you can even close your eyes if you want, what this would be like.
“Again, it will be said, there was a man going on a journey, he called his servants and entrusted his property to them.” Notice it’s his property. “To one of them he gave five talents, and to another he gave two talents, and one he gave one talent, each according to his ability. Then he went on his journey, and then man who had received the five talents went at once and gained five more.
“And the one who had two talents went at once and gained two more. But the one who received just one talent went off and dug a hole in the ground and hid his master’s money.
“After a long time, the master of those servants returned and he settled accounts with them. The man who had received the five talents brought the other five. He said, ‘Master, you gave me five talents. See, I have gained five more.’
“His master replied, ‘Well done, my good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come now and share the joy, the happiness, of your master.’ The man with two talents also came and said, ‘Master, you gave me two; notice, I have given you and created two more.’ His master replied, ‘Well done, thou good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come now and share your master’s joy and happiness!’
“Then the man who had received the one came and said, ‘Master, I knew that you were a hard man, harvesting where you have not sown and gathering where you have not scattered. So I was afraid, so I went and I hid your talent in the ground. See, here it is, it belongs to you.’
“His master replied, ‘You wicked, lazy servant! So, if you knew that I harvest where I have not sown and gather where I have not scattered, then you should have at least put the money on deposit with a banker, so I would have received interest when I returned. Take the talent from him and give it to the one that has ten. For everyone who has will be given more. Whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken away. And throw that worthless servant outside, into darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’”
Jesus’ picture is completely a metaphor for our lives and for us with our children. For reasons I don’t understand and you don’t understand, but according to your ability and according to your children’s ability, God deposited in their DNA certain talents, certain abilities, certain personalities, certain ways their mind works.
God placed them in a very specific family in a very specific time in history. And then He has so many days that He’s going to give them on the earth and I don’t know what they are and you don’t know what they are.
And then He’s going to give them money and material possessions. And what God is saying is that He will hold your kids accountable for what they do with their time, what they do with their talent, and what they do with their treasure. Because He is an all-knowing, all-powerful, all-sovereign God of the universe, He has a purpose for their life. And He gave them the very talents, the very amount of time, and the right amount of money for them to accomplish His purpose.
Now, notice out of that passage there’s a number of principles. The third aspect of a theology of stewardship is that God expects a positive return on His investments. Don’t you get that? He expects a positive return.
Fourth, He will hold you and He will hold your children accountable. And it’s not just from this passage, I put 2 Corinthians 5:6 through 10 where the apostle Paul says, “You need to understand, every single believer in Jesus will stand before the Judgment Seat of Christ and give an account.
We will be judged as believers, not for our sin, Jesus took care of that, but we will be judged by God for what we did with what we have. And some will receive great reward and others will receive loss. And that’s real stuff.
Fifth, God wants to share His joy with your kids. This is not prohibitive. This isn’t, like, He’s trying to take money away or time away or talent away. He knows your children! He has wired your children. He has a plan. And when they’re good stewards and when they invest their time and their talent and their treasure according to His purposes, they will explode with joy!
This is why it’s so important for us parents and those people that are helping people in small groups, you want to help them discover and align their talent and their time and their treasure around God’s purposes. Because unconsciously this other god is pulling.
I wonder how many kids had a desire to do something with their life and somewhere along the line they either heard from a friend or from a teacher or maybe from a counselor or maybe from us as parents, “Well, you could do that, but you’ll never make any money there. I mean, you can’t get a degree in that because you’ll never get a good job that pays a lot of money and you need a lot of money because you need a lot of money to be upwardly mobile because if you’re not upwardly mobile I look like a failure as a parent.
“And if you’re not upwardly mobile, you won’t have money to get a really great education and you need a really great education so you can stay upwardly mobile so our whole lineage and generation can be upwardly mobile so that you can make more money and work more hours and look at your cell phones more often and get bound up completely in technology so you can marry someone who is as busy as you are so you don’t see each other and you’ll pass each other in the night so you have that kind of life. So, I’m really concerned about you!”
What would happen if some of our kids discovered what God made them to do and didn’t make so much money and went to work every day and loved it instead of sixty to seventy percent of all Americans who hate their job, and were well content and learned to live on what they had and didn’t live with overwhelming debt and just had great peace and great contentment and a great relationship? Would most of us, as parents, be okay with that?
You see, you need to understand that there is a battle for the soul of your kids and the money talk and then for your kids getting, “It’s not my money, it’s not my time, these aren’t my talents, I’m going to be held accountable. God’s goal is He wants me to experience joy with Him.”
Have you had this kind of talk with them? Are those the kind of values they have? That’s what sets them up for success.
Sixth, there’s Old Testament roots here. Genesis chapter 1 verses 26 to 28 and Job chapter 1:20 and 21. And I give those just as reference. All I want you to see is God says in Genesis 1, “Let us make man,” or, “mankind in Our image,” and then He says, “We’re going to make them the stewards over all the earth. They’re going to be co-regents and co-creators and We’re going to entrust the entire planet to them.”
Job will say, “Naked I came into the earth, and naked I will leave.” This is after he has lost everything. Everything that we would say would fulfill your life, family is gone, money is gone, his real estate. Everything is gone.
But Job had an interesting perspective. He said, “I came into the world naked; I’m going to leave the world naked. If God owns everything, everything He gave me was His right to give me, and if He owns it, He can take whatever away since it’s His, whenever He wants to.” Here’s the deal, “Blessed be the name of the Lord.”
The only thing, this is a little window called time, and all eternity, my heart’s going to be aligned with Him. Now, did Job like it? No. Was he emotionally ticked off? Yes. Did he share it honestly with God? Yes. And as he grew and went through the process, God actually multiplied many times over what he originally had.
But you need to understand, we have some of our kids who are walking away from God. I just talked with a guy last week and he has a late teenager, early college-aged son and he came to me and he said, “Dad, you know, I’m just, I’m done with being a Christian.” And his dad said, “Why?” “Well, hey, and, you know. The Bible says you’re supposed to pray and I prayed really hard about this and this and I’ve been praying about it for months and God hasn’t given it to me. If He’s not giving me what I want, why should I follow Him?”
Do you understand his theology? God owes me, the God that created all that there is and sent His Son to die in my place, His primary job is to make me self-fulfilled, give me what I want, I’m a consumer. And if God doesn’t show up on time with giving me what I want, how I want it, He’s gone.”
Do you understand how opposite that is? How warped that is? That’s not a theology of stewardship. That’s a theology of narcissism. That’s a theology of consumerism. And that’s a theology of materialism.
And if you don’t start young and teach your kids a theology of stewardship, they will grow up thinking more and more and more will satisfy, God owes them as well as everyone else. And when they don’t get what they want, when they want it, they’re devastated.
But it plays over more than just money. When the marriage isn’t what they want, how they want it, they’ll find someone new. Theology of stewardship, the money talk, is so, very, very important.
You’ll notice that there’s a biblical profile: Nehemiah and Barnabas. And for some of you, every time you’ve been in church and people have talked about money and I know, for me, I didn’t grow up in a Bible-teaching church so I didn’t hear much.
But every time I turned on the TV they were always talking about money. But the only thing I heard about money and church was they wanted mine. And I thought, “Bunch of crooks and jerks!” And, by the way, I think, never mind, I won’t go there.
But somehow, in Christendom, I mean, hundreds of years back, the idea of having wealth is negative or ungodly. Nehemiah was unbelievably wealthy and if he wasn’t wealthy, the entire history of Christendom and the Jewish nation would have fallen apart.
He was the right-hand man to the most powerful person, the king of Persia, at the time. He had unlimited resources. He rebuilt the walls. God needs wealthy, wealthy people to do great things for Him. So, it is not wrong to be wealthy!
Notice, however, the Bible is equally clear that’s it’s wrong to want to be wealthy, it’s wrong to pursue wealth, to want to be rich. You say, “Well, wait a second.” Now, let me give you a picture of this.
I was at a dinner, I don’t know, a number of years ago and there was a young man who was young in Christ, he was probably early thirties, he had become very successful, got a lot of money, got this calling on his life, was really growing spiritually, did some good things with his money, and then his new role in his new job was not going to be at all in the same financial ballpark of where he came from.
And it was one of those real fancy dinners and I was sitting here and I think they asked me to come to pray or something. And very high-powered people from all over the Silicon Valley were there and he and I got talking at dinner and so we had about forty-five minutes or an hour under our belt.
And he found out I was a pastor and knew a little bit about what I did. He said, “Could I ask you a question?” I said, “Sure!” He said, “You know, I used to be, like, really, really, really rich and I went public and now I’ve got this new calling and I really want to do exactly what God wants me to do, but I still want to be really rich. So, what should I do?”
And so, since I had, like, a whole hour of relationship with him and felt the freedom out of this deep bond, I said, “I can tell you God’s will on this one.” He goes, “Great! What is it?” I said, “Repent!” And he looked at me like, “What?” I said, “Repent!” He said, “What do you mean?”
I said, “Your desire to want to be wealthy and want to be rich will be your downfall. Your desire needs to be: Do what God made you to do, be a good steward of all His resources, and what I can tell you is in the case when you give off the top, when you save appropriately, when you stay out of debt, when you treat people well, when you do business in a way that honors God, and you fulfill His calling, in most cases, not all, He usually blesses you financially.
But wealth becomes a byproduct of a life, especially in the Old Testament, an evidence of blessing.
But if you make attaining and gaining wealth the point, almost always it leads to death.” And he kind of looked at me like the rich young ruler and said, “Oh.” How many of us have unconsciously set up our children, by either what we’ve said or what we’ve modeled or how we work, but basically maybe hasn’t come right out and said it, but said what you really need to do is make sure that you’re wealthy, financially.
And then how many of us have broken relationships with our late-teen or adult children because they’ve actually pursued the very things we taught them by our life or didn’t teach them by our words, and now they’re little workaholics who have lives going crazy.
You cannot violate the principles of truth in God’s Word about finances without cratering eventually. We have a world economy, a national economy, and individual people’s lives that are cratering because they don’t have a stewardship with money.
Finally, notice it says there’s a New Testament command. I’m going to ask you to open your Bibles with me on this. Open your Bibles to Luke 16. I want to give you just a snapshot and then I want to get very, very practical.
And by the way, here’s what you need to understand because some of your body language, it has me concerned, okay? Some of your body language is, “Oh my lands, Christmas season, so glad I came. I was going shopping after church but now I’m thinking, you know…?” And some of you are looking at me like, “You know, I didn’t do this with my kids, I feel like a terrible parent, I wish I had, things you just described I’m experiencing.”
Here’s the deal, failure is never final. God did not bring us together to beat you up. God brings us together so that we can know the truth and the truth can set us free. And that means that in every area of our life there are times where we’re moving in a direction, some out of ignorance, some out of willful choices, sometimes like me growing up, I was just stupid.
Everything I just shared with you, I never heard about. And so, He calls us to stop. To repent just means you turn around and say, “Okay, I’m going to make some mid-course corrections and it’s going to take some time and I’ve got some repair to do. But the One who created the heavens and the earth says, ‘I am with you. I am for you. I’ll help you. I’ll help you in your world, in your finances, in your debt, and with your kids, and the people that you want to help in your small group.’”
But this just starts one person at a time. But here’s the New Testament command. I want to pick it up at about verse 9 to give you a little bit of context. And as you look at that here’s what I want you to hear.
Jesus has just given another one of His parables. And as you read the New Testament you realize, “Jesus, You’re killing us! All you ever do is talk about money, money, money.” But He’s really not talking about money or asking people for it. He’s talking about heart issues, He’s talking about mission, He’s talking about values.
And in chapter 16, it’s the parable of the shrewd manager. And I’m not going to read it but the gist of it is a man manages the portfolio of his master. And back then, instead of 401(k)s and all these remainder trusts, it was olive oil and wheat, etcetera. And so, his master finds out that he’s cheating him. So, he tells the guy, “Look, you’re going to get fired. You can’t manage my portfolio, my money, anymore.” And the guy comes to the conclusion, “You know, I’m too weak to dig. I’m too proud to beg. I’ve got to come up with a way to use this little window of time, from the time he told me I’m going to get fired to the time that I actually get fired to set me up financially.”
So, he pulls in one of the creditors and says, “How much do you owe my master?” And he says, “Like, you know, eight hundred barrels of olive oil.” He says, “Quick, put a line through it, let’s make it four hundred. And how much wheat do you owe?” “About, you know, a thousand measures.” “You know, cut it in half. Or, you know, eight hundred and we’ll do that.”
And so basically what he does is he takes this tiny window of time between getting fired and being out of a job, and what he does during that time is he sets himself up for future stability and prosperity.
And his master commended the dishonest manager because he had acted shrewdly. He didn’t commend him because it was right or good or moral. But it was smart. And then Jesus said, “For the people of this world are more shrewd in the dealings with their kind than are the people of the children of the light.”
But He makes this application: “I tell you the truth,” here’s what Jesus says to do with your wealth, “use worldly wealth to gain friends for yourselves, so that when it’s gone, you’ll be welcomed into eternal dwellings.”
In other words, Jesus says, “Have an eternal perspective about wealth,” you know, live, enjoy what God gives you, stay out of debt, and then use your money during this little window called time to generously promote what God is doing so that when you enter into eternity there’s a large group of people saying, “I wanted to high-five you; your generosity was a part of me getting here.”
And then He makes the principle. He says, “Whoever can be trusted with very little can be trusted also in much, but whoever is dishonest or unjust with very little will be dishonest in much. If you haven’t been trustworthy in handling worldly wealth, who will trust you with true riches?” And the “true riches” that He’s talking about are spiritual riches and relationships and the things that really matter.
“And if you haven’t been trustworthy with someone else’s property, who will give you property of your own?” And then here’s His command. And this is so cut and dried, it’s so clear, and then we’ll talk about how to apply it. “No servant can serve two masters. He will either love the one and hate the other, or he’ll be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money both.
“The Pharisees,” the religious elites of the day, “who loved money, heard this and they were sneering at Jesus. And He said to them, ‘You are ones who justify yourselves in the eyes of men, but God knows your heart.” Now listen to this, “What is highly esteemed among men is detestable in the sight of God.”
So much of the prestige, the security, the stuff, the “what we drive,” the “who we want to impress,” what’s highly esteemed among men is detestable in the sight of God.
And so you need to hear the Spirit of the living God, especially if you have younger children, and especially if your children are still in the home, but even after, to put His arm around you and say, “I’ll tell you what, let’s get on a journey and give your kids or the people in your small group, this Christmas, a priceless gift.”
And the priceless gift is you teach them to manage their money biblically. And here’s the gift they will hold in their hands: They will learn to manage their money wisely.
And now what I want to do is tell you how to do that. I’m going to get you started and we’re going to talk about some specific ways that are available that you can learn in a more in-depth way. But this will get you started.
Number one, the principle is if they can’t handle money, they won’t handle true riches. And it says he was faithful in a very little thing. Circle that phrase in your notes, “little thing,” and write above it, “money.” That’s what He’s talking about!
He’s saying to your children, “If your kids aren’t faithful and can learn to steward money, a little thing, they won’t be able to steward anything.” And so that’s why it’s your tool, parents, it’s like the greatest tool in the world to teach values and priorities and faithfulness and accountability and build character.
Well, how do you do that? Number one: Help them recognize the three purposes of money are giving, saving, and spending. Giving, saving, and spending. It’s just, it’s what you do with money.
When they’re real small, the way we did it and I suggest you do it with something different because it would probably break now, where we just took those old mason jars that people can in, and we had a can, three cans or jars, on all of our kids’ little dressers. And then in big, bold letters, we printed, “Giving, spending, and saving.”
And so, we gave them little jobs and we would give them ten, you know, ten dimes for doing this job. And just kept it simple early on and they can learn about proportional giving and investing later. And they put one dime in the giving and one dime in the saving and eight dimes, you know, in the other jar.
And then later you get ten dollars and you put one dollar one dollar here and, right? And then they save up and they buy something they really want. But you teach them.
And then when they get older you get an Excel sheet or you have them put it on their phone or their mobile device and you teach them to track their money and where it goes. You know, a lot of your kids, they have no sense of money.
And for some of you, because you have been out in the world and done things, you shake your head and you can’t quite get it, like, “Dad, I don’t, I mean, really, you just don’t get it. Like, a hundred and fifty dollars for this pair of jeans is really a good buy!” Right? And you’re going, “Hello.” And then it goes to, “But, Dad, everybody else has one of these! And, you know, the contract’s not that much and, you know, mine is, like, three weeks old!”
Isn’t it a point of a lot of conflict in our homes? Here’s what I’ll tell you, here’s what poor people, here’s why poor people are rich in faith, that’s what the Bible teaches. It’s easy to discipline your kids and teach them the value of money when you don’t have any.
When my three boys were coming up, my kids are pretty well spread apart, you know, they’re, like, thirteen years from youngest to oldest. And so, we were really, really poor and when my boys came to me, here’s the answer, “No.” “How come?” “Because we don’t have any money!” “Oh.”
And then eventually I wanted to help them so, you know, back in those old days, you know, Michael Jordan was the biggest name in all of sports and if you got Michael Jordan tennis shoes you were so cool! But they cost a hundred and twenty dollars. And it’s like, “You know what? Here’s some really, really good shoes that don’t have his picture on them for sixty-five. Son, I’ll pay sixty-five. If you want Michael Jordan shoes, keep mowing those lawns, do whatever you need to do.”
Well guess what they did? And they bought the Michael Jordan shoes! But they realized it was, like, eight lawns and two babysitting jobs. The next time they wanted to get shoes, I’ve got to tell you, they had comments like this, “Dad, I don’t think Michael Jordan’s shoes are all that cool. I think they’re out.”
But they learned that. Why? They learned it because we didn’t have any money. Later on, my daughter, she’s thirteen years younger than my oldest boys and, you know, then my middle son, I had, like, three in college so we still didn’t have any money.
But little by little, you know, things got better. And my daughter is like my wife, very organized, very compliant, really smart. And, you know, she just never wanted a lot, was way too easy to raise but I think it was God’s gift to me.
And so, middle of her junior year, we lived in Atlanta and we were shopping and doing something and she asked something and I can’t remember the exact setting. But I realized, “Wow, she doesn’t ask for hardly anything, but she doesn’t have a clue about the values of money.”
And I went home, drive, and I said, “Theresa,” I was in the car, I said, “Honey, we’ve blown it with Annie. I think we did a good job with the boys. They get it.” And I said, “I want you to figure out how much money do we spend on Annie every month. I mean, makeup, clothes, camps, everything.”
And so, she went through and did all that and then we had a little meeting with Annie and I apologized. I said, “Annie, I’m your dad and as a spiritual leader of our home I’m supposed to teach you about the most important things in life. And Jesus said one of the most important things in all of life is how you handle money and being a steward. And you’re great with it, you don’t ask for hardly anything, you’re low-maintenance, but I haven’t taught you.”
And so, we figured out, “We spend about this much money a month. Now, we’re going to, at the first of the month, we’re going to write you a check for that amount of money. We set up a bank account for you.” Back then, remember the old days when people used checks? So, you had a checking deal. And, by the way, I encourage you, the last year or so, your kids need to have a credit card or a debit card and while they live in your home they actually learn how to use it instead of going to college and get a t-shirt and get their own and have five thousand dollars of debt that you didn’t’ know about.
And so then we said, “Okay, so, Annie, so the camps are going to come up. There’s a ski camp and there’s this. I’ll pay half. And then you can buy whatever kind of makeup, you can buy whatever kind of clothes, you have this amount of money.”
And you know, it’s was really interesting because it was a conversation about a blouse or something and I’m sort of old school and it was this one or that one, they look about the same. But this one was, like, sixty dollars more and her comment was, “I think this one is prettier.” And I’m thinking, “I’ve raised a daughter that doesn’t look at the right side of the menu at restaurants.”
It wasn’t her fault, it was my fault! Now, it was really interesting later, you know, we’re out shopping, we’re doing something and, “Oh, Dad! What do you think of this?” I thought, “Oh, that’s really nice.” “What do you think about this? Oh, look, look, Dad, they’re charging xxx just for that little label. Were you thinking I’m going to buy that!?” And I’m thinking…
Now, you know what I told her? I said, “If you want to buy it, great! It’s not wrong, it’s not bad. But you get to spend your money and steward it however you want.” And she was always generous and always gave but she learned.
Now, here’s my daughter, get this, it was from the middle of her junior year roughly and all of her senior year, when she went away to college, she had, like, three thousand dollars of my money in the bank.
Well why? Because she learned to become a steward. Have you had the money talk with your kids? Teach them to recognize there are only three things they can do with it.
Second, teach them to commit to honor God with the first-fruits of every paycheck to remind them that it’s His money, not theirs. Proverbs 3:9 and 10 says, “Honor the Lord with your wealth and with the first-fruits of all your crops.” It was always meant to be a faith issue.
Then notice God’s promise to those Old Testament saints, “Then your barns will be filled with plenty and your vats will be overflowing,” or, “brimming with new wine.”
Teach your kids when they get the allowance; when they get a little gift from someone. You know, write down James 1:19, “Every good and perfect gift comes from above.” Everything they get you just want them to get, “God gave it to you. It’s God’s. You’re just a steward.” So, teach them early on.
It’s easy to give a dime, it’s easy to give a dollar, it’s easy to give ten dollars out of a hundred dollars, it’s easy to give a thousand out of ten thousand. But when those numbers get higher and higher and higher, you know what happens? We start balking. So, you teach them early.
And, by the way, this is not a message about tithing or this and that. In fact, if your kids get the generosity heart what they’ll realize is they’ll do that and then they’ll see a little kid that doesn’t have any food with Compassion International or World Vision or someone on the streets and they’ll start being a generous person.
And you want to teach them that it’s His money. And the reason that we give first and off the top is because left to ourselves, all of us forget that. And we think it’s ours. And so, it’s just one of those things that God puts in place to keep your focus where it needs to be.
Because the reason we have debt is we think things will give us and deliver security and happiness and all the rest. And if we pass on the debt mentality and the reason most people say they can’t give generously is because their debts are messing with their money.
Giving, spending, and saving were God’s goal. Now, you have to pay taxes. But in most homes in America, Christians included, the debt service is a huge chunk of every month, of every paycheck. So, you’re actually paying for stuff in the future, some of you, at twenty-one percent on your credit cards.
If that was your money and you want to do not smart stuff with your money, that’s one thing. It’s not your money. That’s what you’re doing with God’s money. And sometimes the consequences and the loving discipline of God is because some of us aren’t using His money very well and He wants to get our attention.
The third way that we help our kids is encourage them to make time with God their number one priority, so they’ll know how to invest the time, talent, and treasure entrusted to them.
See, at the end of the day, how in the world do you know, “Should I buy this or should I buy that? Should I do this or should I do that? Should I go into this field or go into that field? Should I take my vacation over here or over here?” I want you to know, this is not a secret. God promises in His Word, what’s He say? “My Word is a lamp unto your feet, and a light unto your path.”
You want to both model with your life and you want to help your kids, sure, family devotions around the dinner table, you want to sit down with them before they head out to school if they’re small and pray together. And then as early as possible, you want to give them some sort of easy, approachable program where they begin to read God’s Word on their own.
But not just, like, “Okay, I read two chapters, I don’t feel so guilty.” No! It’s, “God, will You speak to me? God, I have a question about this boyfriend. Is he the right one? God, I’ve got a big calculus test and I’m really concerned about it. God, I got a big game and I’m feeling a lot of pressure. Would You give me the grace and the confidence not only to be a good testimony but to play the very best I can?”
And you teach them to depend on God and you teach them that He will speak to them
and give promises to them, and His Spirit will use His Word, and then they’ll have the wisdom to make the right decisions about their time and their talent and their treasure.
Some of us feel like, “I would love to do that and teach them but I’m too busy.” In Mark chapter 1 is the most intense, busy day recorded in all the gospels of Jesus’ life. I mean, He heals, He teaches, it’s early morning until way into the night.
And in Mark chapter 1 verse 35 it says, “And very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus arose and went to a lonely place,” and He spent time with His heavenly Father.
If the Son of Man, who was absolutely perfect and without sin, but being fully man, felt the need and the dependency to say, “Father,” see I think I know even what He prayed. I think He prayed, “Father, I’m exhausted, number one. Father, number two, is that everybody wants a piece of Me.”
And sometimes we get this idea that Jesus was sort of, He was fully divine so it was easy. He lived the Christian life the way He modeled for us. He depended on the Father in the power of the Holy Spirit. He didn’t turn on His “God side.”
And He felt every pressure that you and I feel. He had every tension, temptation that we have. And I think He said, “Oh God, will you help Me get clear on My priorities?” Because when the disciples came, because they couldn’t find Him, they came and said, “You were a hit last night! I mean, you’re like the new rock star! People are coming from all over. Feed them again! Heal them! It’s great!”
And He said, “No, I must go to every village and preach the gospel.” He got clear on His mission. And that’s what you want for your kids.
Here’s the life message that God wants for your children and it’s a priceless gift. And the life message is very simply: Your life is a sacred stewardship. Boy, that’ll change how they do everything. It’ll change who they date, it’ll change their time, it’ll change their money, it’ll change their future, it’ll change their vocation. Their life is a sacred stewardship.
God is not longing to make people feel bad or guilty about what you haven’t done in the past or what you’re not doing in the present. He wants you to say, “Okay, where did He speak to me?” I mean, just right now, where did He speak to you? What specific mid-course change do you sense you need to make? When will you do that? Most of us, when we know to make a change, and this is one that is so easy, like, it’s not like, “I think I’ll pray deeper.” Well how do you measure that? Money stuff you can measure pretty…
“Who would help me? Who is a trusted friend? Who would help me take some steps that I would feel free saying, ‘You know what? I need personally to take some steps to get out of debt.’ Or, ‘I need to start meeting with my kids.’ Or, ‘My daughter is coming home from college and, you know, we need to have a parent/daughter talk and begin this journey, because I care about their future marriage and I care about their future debt level and I care about them fulfilling God’s will and I care about them.’ And so, even more importantly than the sex talk, no matter what age, we’re going to have the money talk.”