Teaching Kids the Power of Giving
By Alison Storm
Let’s be honest, kids can be selfish punks. (Although can’t we all at times?) They hoard, whine, and covet. They believe the world revolves around them, and sometimes in America, that’s true. They consume our time, energy and all the snacks. But in between carting them to gymnastics and piano lessons and all the things that we sign them up for hoping to mold them into respectable human beings, we need to make sure we’re modeling kindness and instilling compassion.
Just like your child probably won’t learn to speak French without the help of le professeur (that’s French for teacher) or won’t master a roundhouse kick without stepping foot in a dojo, your child may not fully learn the power of giving if you’re not intentional about teaching it. This became especially apparent to me after I visited India with Set Free in 2014.
My son was just one when I traveled 8,733 miles to witness the work of our pastor partners firsthand. But in addition to seeing all the wonderful things Set Free was doing, I also witnessed the evil that we’re up against. I visited a working mine and saw child slaves. I descended into their rocky pit and shook their dusty hands. And when I climbed back up that rickety wooden ladder, I emerged a different person. I no longer had the luxury of living in my beautiful, pristine American bubble. My heart shattered, and my priorities shifted. My new mission was to raise a compassionate world-changer. And that meant getting very intentional about teaching my children that there is a big world outside of our community. Our privilege comes with responsibility and it’s our job to direct our gifts and passions towards those who are less fortunate.
When I came home from that trip, God gave me the idea for Crowdsourcing Kids. It’s a tool parents can use to teach their kids compassion, to bring them into the world water crisis firsthand. When a child sells ten elephants handmade by those formerly enslaved, they take an active part in changing the lives of an entire village with the gift of clean water. My son has helped drill seven wells and my daughter has helped drill four.
Do I ever get discouraged when self-entitlement rears its ugly head in our household? You betcha! It happens more than I’d like to admit, but over and over we remind our kids how blessed they are and that those blessings come with responsibility. We repeatedly talk about what we can do to serve others and give generously. Does this get exhausting? Yes. Do I want to give up? Absolutely. Does my son ever willingly write a thank you note? Not yet. But my prayer is that these lessons are cementing generosity and compassion into their little hearts.
Listen and Celebrate
Our passions are not accidents. What God gives us a heart for matters. And just because He has given me a heart for something doesn’t mean that’s necessarily where my kids will end up wanting to serve. I try to be open to hearing their ideas around generosity. And when I can, I create opportunities for them to explore service opportunities. And while I want to be careful not to make self-gratification the motivation behind their generosity, I do like to take time to celebrate their good choices. And that’s how I designed Crowdsourcing Kids, too. When fifty kids have each sold ten elephants, we can drill a well in India. Each child is notified and can see photos of the well. An entire village has clean water thanks to their hard work. I want them to feel a sense of significance and pride knowing that they made a difference. They may be young, but they can still be world changers, and that’s the power of giving.