Digging Deeper | Teaching Kids About Money
Why is it important to teach kids about money?
When it comes to money, it can be a sensitive thing, but it is important. Matthew 6:21, Jesus said, "where your treasure is, there your heart will be also." It's amazing how for all us grownups, and for even these little kids, how they spend their money, and how you spend your money, and how I spend my money really does show what I value and what's important to me. So, I'm glad we're having this topic. I think you could even step back and see that here's probably an even bigger topic than the money itself. That topic is stewardship. Really that's what we are; we are to be stewards, good stewards. A steward being a manager, or someone that's looking after something. That's what we want for our kids, we want them to be good stewards.
I was doing a little research for this discussion today, and I was reminded that the Bible talks more about money and possessions than almost anything else. Now, there are different Bible scholars that'll say that the Bible talks about money and possessions 2,000,000 some times. Or they say that the Bible talks about money and possessions second to anything else in the Bible, or third. I don't know exactly how many times it is mentioned, but I just know it's a lot. I know that Jesus spoke more about money than he spoke about heaven and hell combined, or even love.
So that's a big topic; it's a big part of our world. It's something that we all wrestle with as adults is how do I manage my money? And I think it's something that we need to train our kids on, and we need to help parents wrestle through their kids because it's a stewardship game. The more I can help kids be better stewards now when they're five, six, seven, eight, nine, ten, the better off they will be. It’ll set them up for a much happier and satisfying life as adults.
How can churches partner with parents on this topic?
I think the big thing is to just start talking about it. It seems like with adults, about once a year the pastor will do a stewardship series. Or once every two years, or when it's time for some capital campaign the pastor will talk about finances. There may be a special Bible study that happens once a year on Saturday's with Dave Ramsey, or some special financial course. But it seems like with parents and kids in a church setting it's not talked about a lot.
I would just start talking about it, and don't overthink it. What can you do? Maybe it's a small group that we have for parents, maybe it's a class that we offer as an elective; maybe it's a series that we do on Sunday nights at the church; or something that we do with the kids; even training the kids themselves in Sunday School, or Children's Church, or Kids Worship, around this idea of money. I would be careful as parents, as pastors, and as ministry leaders. Don't just teach it as a negative. I hear that a lot from pastors, and a lot of times in church when money is preached on; it's preached on as a negative thing. Just like anything else in life, the internet, or the computer, or the phone, or whatever, it can be negative. It can also be very, very positive.
So, we can teach kids that they can do a lot with their money, even the little bit of money they have. They don't have to spend it all on shoes, or they don't have to spend it all on sweets. They don't have to spend it all on soap; they don't have to spend it all on this stuff that kids get into. All this fun stuff, these games, these gadgets, and these gizmos: they can do some of that, but they can actually use their money to further the Kingdom. They can use their money to further their life later down the road if they'll learn to save a little bit, even as kids.
So, I would start by not overthinking it. Don't overthink it. What's something small you can do in the next six months to help these parents? Maybe it's a pizza party where we're going to teach, maybe it's a Bible study; maybe it's a series we do with the kids, but just do something and be intentional about it. That’s a great place to start.
When is a good time to talk to kids about money?
I think it's relevant 24/7 because we live in a culture where a kid can turn on the TV, they go on YouTube and there's pre-roll videos going before their YouTube video starts. They're just inundated with the gimmes, gimmes, gimmes. “I want this. I want this. I want this.” There is a desperate need all the time. It's going to be relevant 365 days of the year because kids are being brainwashed and inundated with stuff and the need to have more stuff. They are brainwashed to believe that my identity is in my satisfaction in what I have, and what I accumulate. “Do I have the best shoes? Do I have the best clothes? Do I have the latest gadgets?” So, I think any time is good.
Again, I'm going back to the “I wouldn't overthink it” mentality. I wouldn't overthink it. Now, there are some natural times, like Thanksgiving, where we talk about giving thanks. How am I giving thanks with even the things I have? Or Christmas, when we think about giving. It's better to give than receive. So, there are some times when it makes sense with the holidays. However, I think any time, and every time is a good time to discuss money. Here’s the thing: it doesn't have to be a series. It doesn't have to be a Bible study. It can be working it into my current curriculum. It can be working it into the conversations I'm already having with the group of kids that are sitting around my table during small group time.
When we talk about the reality of living out the faith Monday through Friday, it not only impacts all of these other areas of my life, but it impacts how I spend my birthday money, my Christmas money, and my allowance.
Any tips for how to have this conversation?
Just make it practical for the kids, and make it practical for the parents. I think a great way is by teaching the Biblical stories. Again, the Bible talks a lot about our money, and I think that's because God knows that where your treasure is, is where your heart's going to be. So, God talks a lot about money; He talks a lot about our stuff. I would get as practical as I can. Teach the Biblical truths, hide God's word in their heart, teach the stories, and then get practical.
Let me just give you one practical example. It's something we tried to teach our girls at home. I didn't make this up, I promise. I heard this as a kid when I was growing up, and that's the 10:10:80 rule. (Or some people say the 10:80:10 rule) That is if you get $10 for your birthday, you’re going to use 10% of that and you’re going to give it to the Lord's work, to the church or tithe it (whatever terminology you want to use) 10% of it. I'm going to save 10% of it, and I'm going to spend 80% on myself.
So, I'm going to take that $10, and I'm going to give $1 to the church. I'm going to put $1 in the piggy bank, and I'm going to spend $8. Now, I'm not telling you, maybe for your family you want to do 20:20:60. I'm not telling you the percentage, but my point is to get practical. Then practically teach it to the kids, and visualize it in a way that they'll really see.
Teach the kids how God can take their little and turn it into much. Tell the stories of God taking a little bit and multiplying it. Show them that that dollar that they put in the offering basket might not seem like much, but God can use that to do amazing, amazing things. Tell stories of how in your church you've seen that at work. In your family, how you've seen that work. Missionary's stories of how God has taken a little and done a lot with it.
So, I'd get practical. There are also a lot of resources out there for kids and parents. I mentioned earlier, Dave Ramsey has financial peace university for adults. He also has, you may or may not know this, financial peace junior. There's a series for kids on how to help kids with their finances. Those of you that teach kids in the church. High Voltage Kids Ministry: they have great curriculum series that I've done with the kids in my church on stewardship, on helping kids be good stewards.
For parents or just everyone in general, just remember that what we model matters. So, if you want to teach your kids how to be good stewards, show them by the way you live as a church leader, as a parent, or as a pastor. You want your kids to see you giving. You want them to see the joy that comes with giving. You want them to hear the stories of how God takes a little and does much with it. You want them to here why it's smart to save, and what can happen when you put a little bit of money in the bank every week, and how that can compound. You want to show them how that money can turn into a lot of money by the time they are adults; that they can use that money for college and to buy a car. You can teach them that saving your money can allow you to do things that you want to do, that you're not going to know what they are for years, and years, and years.
So, teach by modeling. Find some good curriculum; find some good books and resources to equip parents and kids with. Start small, and just keep working it into your week to week ministry. Your parents will thank you for it. I don't know if the kids will thank you for it right away; I think they will with time. I think it'll honor the Lord because it's a Biblical principle that God wants us each to not only teach, but to have a part of our life.
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