Stewardship Stories: Youth, Parents and the Joy of Giving
Movies, clothes, gadgets ... your Christian teenager knows how to spend. But is he or she also learning how to give? Click on a story below to meet youth who are learning to view their giving as a way to worship God. Share your brief story with us—so that other kids might excel in generous giving at a young age. Also, you may wish to read a shorter list of key youth and parent stories.
Kids Grow into Giving: Generous Local Youngsters Get Early Start in Helping Others
Kim Hone-McMahan. Beacon Journal, Akron, Ohio, October 15, 2006.
When one reporter looked at several stories about generous children, what did she notice they have in common? Parents who model generous giving. In this article about four children who display generosity at a very young age, we meet a six-year-old girl named Megan, who gives away the profits she makes from selling homemade bookmarks to the Akron Children’s Hospital. How did she get the idea to donate her money to this hospital? “Since Megan’s birth, her parents regularly have donated a book [to this same hospital] which the little girl has helped select.” This article is a vital reminder that children “learn by watching and listening.” If we want to see the next generation become generous givers, we should “lead by example.”
Mark Graham. Stewardship Development Ministries of the Church of the Nazarene, n.d.
A sensitive boy with a concern for others, 7-year-old Ethan Alexander asked his dad if it would be okay to give $16 to suffering children he saw in a film on natural disasters. “Are you sure?” his dad asked, knowing this was his son’s entire savings.
MOPS Moms Find the Joy of Giving
Mothers of Preschoolers, n.d.
Many MOPS moms and groups found the joy of giving through Samaritan’s Purse’s Operation Christmas Child project. Shoebox gifts are distributed to children around the world to children who suffer because of war, natural disaster, poverty, illness or neglect. One Georgia mother tells how this simple project has proved to be an excellent way to model the joy of giving for her 5-year-old son.
More by this authorLessons on Giving from a Younger Generation
Daryl Heald. Opening remarks at Generous Giving’s Pacific Northwest Conference, Stevenson, Wash., October 19-21, 2006.
Daryl Heald, president of Generous Giving, relates how God used his teenage daughter to inspire her youth group to raise $20,000 for the Invisible Children program. Interacting with his children while they have worked and prayed to raise this money, Heald has learned three lessons from them, which he passes along to other believers seeking to become generous givers: (1) Have faith; we should believe that God will provide, no matter how large the need is. (2) Gain perspective; we should remember to keep it big. (3) Don’t judge; sometimes the best insight comes from those whom we least expect—in Heald’s case his eight-year-old son. Heald’s story is a reminder that we should keep our eyes open and hearts humble toward a younger generation that has much to teach. Note: No downloadable text or audio is available at this time. Return to index
Generous and Cheerful Giving
Ainslee Johnson. Chattanooga, Tenn.: Generous Giving, 2003.
This 11-year-old Mississippi girl gives away 20 percent of her allowance, and she urges other kids not to miss out on the joy.
My Story—Your Story
Gary Langness. Stewardship for the 21st Century.
Now a grown man and a pastor in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, the author reflects on how the most influential factor in his becoming a giver was watching his own mother model generosity. Though a widow raising four small children, Langness’ mother always was eager and ready to give to those in need or to extend hospitality to those around her. From baking cookies to supporting missionaries, she was a giver. Even in the face of financial difficulty, she tithed regularly and never ”reduced her pledge to church, but instead she increased it.” While his mother “never talked a lot about her giving,” she did something far greater: “She simply lived it.”
But It’s My Money! Should I Spend My Birthday Money on Me, or on Somebody Who Really Needs It?
Sierra Lowndes. Campus Life, September/October 2002.
Like most high school sophomores, Sierra Lowndes has a desire to dress right, have the right hairstyle, and catch the right guy. But unlike most of her peers, this teenager has cultivated a deeper understanding of what really matters in life. In this wonderful testimony, Sierra shares her struggles of knowing what is right to do with her money and wanting to spend her money on frivolous things. She concludes that while her outward appearance can wait, “I guess this birthday makeover will have to start from the inside out.”
Growing Up in a Generous Family
Drew Melby. Testimony delivered at the annual Generous Giving Conference, Atlanta, Ga., April 20-22, 2006.
Although he is young, Detroit-area teenager Drew Melby imparts the wisdom that he has inherited from a family rich in generosity. He encourages parents to model giving to their children. Talks on why giving is important are fine, he says, but do not forget to take every opportunity to teach generosity in everyday life. It is also important to associate ourselves and our families with other people who model godly generosity. Adults and children both become more like those with whom they associate. Finally, it is important to let children see the fruits of giving. Take them to charities, ministries or on mission trips to see the receiving end of their giving; introduce them to the joy of seeing their generosity at work, and they will be hooked on good biblical stewardship for a lifetime. This resource is available on compact disc.
The Rich Family in Church
Eddie Ogan. Eternal Perspective Ministries.
In 1946, Eddie Ogan, 14, knew what it was to do without many things. Her father had died five years before, leaving her mother to raise three children with no money. A month before Easter the pastor announced that a special offering would be taken to help a poor family. He asked everyone to save and give sacrificially. How much could a poor family contribute to such an offering?
Young and Philanthropic: Students at a Florida High School Raise Money and Distribute Grants at Community Foundation They Run
Susan Gray. The Chronicle of Philanthropy, February 26, 1998.
Students at Pine Crest School in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., don’t consider philanthropy something that only adults do. In fact, these innovative students are involved in what is believed to be the first community foundation founded and run by teenagers. Established in 1994, the Pine Crest Community Foundation is like any community foundation: Its leaders raise money and use it to make grants to local charities. Through this foundation the teens are not only learning about philanthropy but also getting the experience of participating first-hand in the joys of giving.
The History of 57 Cents
Russel H. Conwell. The Temple Review, Grace Baptist Temple, Philadelphia, December 19, 1912.
How much can 57 cents contribute to building the kingdom of God? When little Hattie May Wiatt died in 1886, she left all she had in the world to help build a new church building so that the children in her town would be able to attend Sunday school. Although it was not much by human standards, God multiplied this tiny amount so that thousands have been impacted by the expanded ministry of Grace Baptist Temple in Philadelphia in the ensuing decades. Through this astounding testimony, we see how God can use even the smallest gift to accomplish great things.
Dollars ... and Sense: Teaching Children about Money
Patt Williams. New Directions for Living, no. 7.
Teaching children about the value of money really pays off as they reach adulthood, explains this mother and speaker. When their children were young, Patt and J.L. Williams determined to teach them about money and how to be wise stewards of God’s resources. Although it wasn’t always easy for them, Williams recounts how “God used money to teach us all kinds of things about his faithful provision, our children and ourselves.”
Raising the Compassion Bar: How 575 Suburban Teens Underwrote a Medical Clinic, Schoolhouse, and a Year’s Supply of Food for a Village in Zambia—with Money to Spare
Jeremy Weber. Christianity Today 49, no. 8 (August 2005).
In summer 2002, upper-middle-class high school students launched a vision to raise $53,000 to build a schoolhouse in Zambia. Student leaders of Wheaton Academy in Wheaton, Ill., knew their goal was big, but after praying for the right opportunity in which to give, they encountered One Life Revolution project, a World Vision and Youth Specialties initiative to involve students with AIDS relief to that African nation. It was perfect. The student leaders introduced the fund-raising project to the student body with one caution, as one student later explained: “We didn’t want this project to be something where people’s parents wrote checks. We wanted it to be something where students were sacrificing.” Raising the money was a slow process at first, but “each of us committed to pray every single day about it, and that’s when the money started coming in.” They surpassed their goal of $53,000, raising $80,000 by the end of the year—enough to pay for the schoolhouse and every other item in the One Life Revolution catalog. Now, not only are the students still raising money for various ministry projects in Zambia, but they also have “fallen in love with the people. It’s about relationship now—it’s not just a project,” says Wheaton Academy chaplain Chip Huber. Many students have drastically changed their spending and giving habits and are willing to be used by “the God of the universe [who] loves to do the unthinkable.”
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