We often think of generosity in terms of financial giving, which makes it difficult for children to participate and experience the blessing of meeting others’ needs. What if we broaden our definition of what it looks like to be generous? Instead of only looking at ways to raise money for a cause or give from their small allowances, we can expand children’s view of generosity by inviting them to join in and participate in meaningful ways that go beyond a concrete gift. In Luke 10:25-37, Jesus tells the classic story of the Good Samaritan—one who gave his time, resources, and skills to meet the need of a man who had been left for dead at the side of the road. How can we encourage this kind of generosity in the kids we lead?
1. The gift of words
Kind words are like honey—sweet to the soul and healthy for the body. Proverbs 16:24
Everyone is able to offer the gift of kind words. Just as medicine can heal our physical ailments, kind words can heal a discouraged heart. Children are especially good at seeing emotional needs in others and offering a hug and an “I love you” in return. Encourage kids to look for opportunities to be generous with their words. Let them know that a word of encouragement can transform someone’s day. A word of thanks can reinvigorate the spirit of giving in others. Calling a grandparent and taking time to share about your day can heal a lonely heart.
2. The gift of time
As adults, we often feel overwhelmed with our schedules. Yet, surprisingly, giving our time often offers some of the greatest rewards. And, sometimes—as in the story of the Good Samaritan—the opportunity is right there in front of you. Kids can learn to be generous with their time by looking for those who have been bullied or neglected at school and offering to sit with them at lunch. They could invite a new student over after school, or donate their time to a younger student who needs help in a subject they have mastered. As we encourage kids to find ways to give their time to others, we will help build a spirit of generosity in their lives.
3. The gift of the Gospel
As the season of giving rolls around each year, it is easy to become overwhelmed by all of the advertising that tells kids they need this new toy or that new video game. Kids can easily start to feel that their lives will be incomplete without these material things, and the spirit of selfishness often overtakes the spirit of generosity. Giving a gift (like soap, socks, and school supplies) to someone who struggles to meet their basic needs can help put things in perspective. And, what if that gift could also deliver something even greater, like the hope of the Gospel? Packing a shoebox with Operation Christmas Child not only provides some basic necessities and unique treasures for a child in need in another part of the world, it opens doors to talk about the greatest gift ever given as well. A trip to the store to buy items for a shoebox gift is hands-on and practical, and also gives parents the opportunity to live out the Great Commission alongside their children. A family photo and a personal message placed in a shoebox gift can have a powerful impact for both the giver and the receiver. Once the gift is ready to send, kids are able to pray that the child who receives the gift will come to know the hope the Gospel provides to hurting hearts around the world.
For more information on how children and families connected to your children’s ministry can take part in Operation Christmas Child, visit www.samaritanspurse.org/OCC