Instilling Values and Charity in Your Child's HeartBy Candice Pardue
Children are remarkable in that they usually have unlimited charity in their hearts when very young. As they grow older, however, that natural urge to be selfish rises up in their heart. What can you do about it?
Teaching by Example
One of the things I've learned while raising my sons is that charity is something that's taught by example. It's not something you can force, although you should make sure your child practices charity when the opportunity arises. Teach by words and deeds.
My children are a prime example. We've been to the nursing home regularly while visiting with the church and many times on our own time. My sons absolutely love being a part of it even though sometimes they dread it at first. To get them involved, I often buy muffins or cookies and let them cook treats, wrap them neatly and pass them out to people at the nursing home. This gives my kids a reason to go and they get to experience the joy of making someone else happy. Is this forced charity? Some would say yes. I say yes and no. Yes, I do require my kids to go with me because it's a part of our lives. No, I do not force them to have charity, but I do encourage them to do special things for the people, which is a form of charity. They do this willingly and do enjoy it.
Witnessing for God
Telling others about God is another act of charity that must be lived out, and not forced. While my children were younger (5 and 8 years old), we decided to go throughout our neighborhood and tape gospel tracts and a letter of personal testimony (mine) on everyone's door. I took the kids with me, and they enjoyed participating by going to each door to either hand out or tape the message on the door. This was the example. Yes, the kids "had" to go with me. I obviously wouldn't leave them home alone at that age. However, they weren't forced to give out the tracts and letters. They willingly participated.
Around a couple of months later, the kids were playing outside, and suddenly I couldn't find them. I panicked of course and came very close to calling the local police. Then, I noticed as I was driving by a couple of our neighbors' homes that gospel tracts were taped to their door from our church! I couldn't believe my eyes. I thought at first that someone else from our church did it, but I had no idea who. Then I noticed several other houses with the same, and as I continued driving, there were more and more houses with these tracts taped to the door. Even houses down the next block were covered!
I "followed" the tracts and guess where they led? Straight to my two sons. There they were on a mission to get a tract on every door in our neighborhood. I didn't know whether to be furious or leap for joy. Obviously, I gave them a lecture about how they really shouldn't go off by themselves, but I also told them I was very proud that they wanted to spread the good news and were so fervent about it.
Years Later It's Still There
It's been several years now since that incident, and my youngest son is 9 years old. Just the other day we were in the grocery store and he felt the need to give a man a gospel tract and invite him to church. So, on his own, he went out to the car and got the tract, gave it to the man and invited him to church. He did this all on his own. I feel that the days of going door to door instilled charity in their hearts that will last a lifetime.
Every time you have the opportunity to display charity, do it with joy in front of your children and encourage them to be a part of it. Years later, they might do it on their own.