A Family's Journey Through UncertaintyFocus on the Family recently spoke with a second generation as she shared how her Mom and Dad have shaped her perspective in giving.
What did your parents do to guide your view of stewardship? I was about 10 and my brothers were 12 and 14, when the family business began to be successful. Dad is a storyteller. He would tell us stories of our family’s past over and over again. He told us how he promised Mom he would be a millionaire by age 30 and instead at age 30 he had declared bankruptcy and it was at that point, he gave all over to God.
So, these stories framed your beliefs? Yes, the overriding principle was our stuff is not our stuff. All we have is the Lord’s and our job is to steward well. Secondly, the stories taught us that it could all be gone tomorrow. Stuff should not define us. The economy is fickle. The world is fickle. So we were taught to be OK whether we had a lot or little.
Their consistent walk made a big impression on you? Yes, when Dad turned 60, we had a party to honor him and Mom. People sent us notes for a scrapbook. One of the notes expressed how they have stayed the same whether living in plenty or in want. God has allowed them to impact so many lives because they have viewed wealth in context of what it can do to help others.
Any specific examples of how they involved you in giving? I remember the first time we really had a substantial amount to give. Dad put a bunch of pennies on the table. Each penny represented a dollar denomination. He gave each of us a number of pennies. We were to place them in a pile in accordance with where we wanted to give. We actually got to decide! This was so exciting and fun! They listened to me and respected my opinion as a 14-year-old. I was the first to introduce several new ministries to my family, which would ultimately change the course of where my life was going. It gave me confidence and meant a lot to me that they cared about my opinion. Mom and Dad made giving fun for us.
So what would you say to other parents? Listen to your children. Let them be part of the process. Any family can do this, regardless of how much they are giving.
Did you experience a season of questioning or struggling with your views? In college, I took my first trip overseas and it opened my eyes to poverty in developing countries. I struggled with why we have much and others don’t.
Just by virtue of being an American, we are better off than most. As a young college student, my parents talked with me about finding a balance of thankfulness for where God had placed me with accepting my responsibility to use well all with which I was entrusted.
As a young mom, how are you guiding your children? It’s a different journey for our daughters. They will have enough from the beginning. We want our children to have a global perspective. We are seeking to cultivate thankfulness in them. As parents, we constantly check ourselves that we are modeling “enough.” I’m blessed that my spouse and I share the same conviction to limit our lifestyle and give the extra.
In a statement, how would you describe your personal stewardship belief? It’s all the Lord's. It's not really ours. This is enough; actually, we have more than enough.