I was thinking about the problem of greediness recently because of a news item about an 11-year-old boy who shot his father. Why? Because he wanted an X-box, a PlayStation, and a computer and he wanted them NOW. He said if he didn’t get them, he would go to Plan B – finding his dad’s gun and shooting him. His dad, a police officer, kept his gun locked in his car so his kids couldn’t get them, but the boy was persistent.
I don’t know this family and I don’t know all that’s involved (except what’s on the news). They’re going through enough turmoil right now without me adding my own opinion about what they did right or wrong. I do know they need our prayers …
But the incident made me think of other kids I’ve heard, whether screaming at their parents in a store or in personal conversations where they say “I just have to get the new video game, doll, soccer ball, etc.”
Unfortunately, as adults, we can also act this way. We work hours and hours to get that new piece of gym equipment that will solve, not only our weight problem, but will make us look movie-actor good. After a week or so, it’s pushed to the side of the basement where it stays. Well, maybe not this exact situation, but you know where I’m coming from. We have ALL done it.
In this world of instant gratification and of instant credit, many people get what they want when they want it. In doing so, we could be instilling in our children a very dangerous characteristic.
Just some thoughts on instilling a sense of ungreediness in our kids … and them some verses to memorize with them.
*Recognize that when young children start school, they are exposed to a lot of other kids who have super cool stuff. Talk to your kids. Be open with them. “No, we’re not getting a pool, but we are doing a road trip out West next summer.” Or, “You know I’ve been laid off work, so we don’t have extra money right now, but because I have some free time, we’ll go hiking in the mountains this weekend..” Or, “We choose not to spend our money on a lot of stuff, but focus on doing things together as a family.” Or, “You’re eight-years-old and we’re not spending $300 on a designer jacket, but I am willing to go to a second-hand store or a less-expensive store and see what we can find.”
For older kids, be open about your finances. You don’t have to tell them exactly how much you make if you don’t want to, but let them know that there’s not a lot of extra money lying around. When our kids were teens, we did an activity with them one night where we asked them to write down what they thought we paid for each of our bills: house, electric, water, etc. On some items they were close, but on many they were far off – I think it was a good eye-opener.
*Limit gifts. Instead of endless Christmas gifts, limit it to three or four. Some parents have kids go through their toys and books before Christmas and give away whatever they no longer use, have already read, or outgrown. (This doesn’t mean broken or torn.)
Take your kids with you to the shelter when you drop off the toys. They need to see where their “stuff” is going.
*Do service projects together. Even young kids can help stack shelves at the food bank, or sweep the sidewalk when you mow your elderly neighbor’s grass. Or, go on a missions trip together – many churches now do family trips. Expose your kids to other cultures or people who don’t have as much as they do.
*Be an example. Do you always have to have the bigger TV, the high-end appliances, the most-expensive car? Not that these things are wrong in themselves, but when it’s a constant striving for bigger and better, we are sending a message that our kids are hearing loud and clear.
*Slow down the “I wants”. When your child says he wants something. Stop him and quietly say, “We’ll discuss this again in a week. I’ll wait until you bring it up. I want to know that its something you really, truly want.” Most of the time, the child will forget, but if he does bring it up, go online and find the lowest price for the item. Then give him a list of jobs he must complete to earn the money to purchase it. This will slow down the “I wants” and also make him appreciate it more because he had to earn it.
*Work with your child to come up with a place where he can give her money to the Lord. This could be church (some churches provide kids with their own offering envelopes), a child you support in another country, or a missionary. (Choose a missionary the child personally knows.) Let them see you give generously to others.
*Learn a verse or two about ungreediness.
Whoever is greedy for unjust gain troubles his own household, but he who hates bribes will live. (Proverbs 15:7)
A greedy man stirs up strife, but the one who trusts in the Lord will be enriched. (Proverbs 28:25)
And He said to them, “Take care, and be on your guard against all covetousness, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.” (Luke 12:15)7
Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. (2 Corinthians 9:7)5
Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for He has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” (Hebrews 13:5)
I know this post is long, but I did want to add a few ideas for teaching kids in ministry.
- Teach the importance of being ungreedy, showing them what God says in His Word.
- Establish an offering for something tangible to which they can contribute. You might want to find a task they can do at church to earn money. (Pick up paper, weed the flower beds, etc.)
- Do a class service project.
- Learn a couple of the verses above.
- Invite church staff, missionaries etc., to speak to the class about how a gift helped them in their ministry.
(By the way, “ungreedy” is a word. I checked.)