[bl]O[/bl]n Sundays, our family is gathering together and considering ways we can become better stewards. We live in abundance. Some is the fruit of our labor; much more has simply been given to us. And we consider it all a gift from God.
These conversations were inspired by the lack of gratefulness in our children. They are slow to help, slow to share, and slow to appreciate. These selfish instincts are expected in the young, but Mark and I desperately want to shape in our children grateful hearts that lead them into generous and fruitful living. Africa revealed that our riches had made us poor. This always being provided for and never truly needing, has shaped expectations in our children (in us!) that are difficult to dissolve.
Initially, Mark and I introduced a chore plan for the children – a way for them to be more involved in the housework. We would become very frustrated when they didn’t take initiative or when they grumbled about helping. After several weeks of frustration, we realized that we were asking our children to be helpful, but we weren’t really giving them a foundation to work from.
We were giving them an expectation, rather than shaping for them a value.
That night Mark began to sketch our conversations on stewardship.
We began with creation. We looked at how God created a world with intention and color and order. And it was good. And we pointed out to our children how God gave the land to the living. It was to be food and shelter to his creations. It was an environment meant to bless man and woman.
And then we pointed out how God gave man and woman the humble responsibility to be caretakers of the land and all that was on it. To name it, tend it and care for it. If we take care of God’s creation, it will take of us, provide for us.
And then talked about our sin. When man and woman disobeyed God, a separation began. And brokenness entered all of creation. Death came to all things. Plants, animals and all people. Those relationships no longer lived in harmony.
Sin changes the way we live with one another and care for one another.
From the beginning, God has called us to be co-creators with him in his creative and redemptive work. Our creative children connected with this idea. And joining the work of our family with the work of God has motivated them toward participation.
As if anticipating our next conversation, something happened Saturday night that perfectly prepared my children to hear God’s word on Sunday.
I had spent time and money preparing for a fun evening with two other homeschool families that are discovering the ancient world at the same time as us. With Olympic activities, Greek food, and costumes, we celebrated the people and culture of ancient Greece. The evening was a success. My sister knows how to plan a party! Sadly, my boys quarreled during the evening, and the night ended with pouting faces because a sleepover was not going to happen. I arrived home deeply hurt by my children. Were did I go wrong? How did I miss teaching them to be thankful? To appreciate the hard work of others, especially when the work is for them?
It was divine timing that our conversation on stewardship in the morning led us into the desert with the Israelites. We were humbled by the way this people grumbled and complained after all that God had done for them. We could all relate. My children didn’t need us to make the connection for them. They knew what they had done the night before. We discussed how ungratefulness hurts others. And how it’s like a disease that has the ability to take over the heart.
My boys acknowledged their sin, and today I heard two sincere apologies.
At the heart of stewardship is gratefulness. When you deeply appreciate all that you have, you will take care of it, work for it, and be generous with it.
Lord, teach us to be thankful. To praise you with lips of gratitude. To see all things as gifts from you.
I asked my children to join with me as I follow Ann’s lead in listing our gratitude. They will be writing down one thing each day.
#71 Chore lists made by the husband to help the mother
#72 A week of lots of school and learning
#73 All day spent with my children, no matter how hard the sacrifice
#74 A Father that stops by unexpected
#75 Father and son working together
#76 Cheating that teaches me
#77 Other families to celebrate learning with
#78 The stories and contributions of the ancient world
#79 A barn that smells like my grandpa’s barn
#80 Someone’s dream of adoption
#81 A spontaneous invitation
#82 A shared Lent with friends
#83 A sister who enters into the suffering of another