Way # 12 We take care of what we have, using it responsibly.
“He who is faithful in a very little thing is faithful also in much; and he who is unrighteous in a very little thing is unrighteous also in much." Luke 16:10
"Mama, I want to move to New York City. I have a scholarship to New York Film Academy, and I would love to go, but I need your blessing." I never dreamed of sending my children to New York City when they were 19. However, one of the life principles of our family was that if our children were faithful in small things, we would broaden their arenas to bigger places.
Practicing faithfulness in small tasks would prepare them to be faithful in bigger responsibility. Practicing letting our children work beside us, engage in our work, learn to rule over their own lives with decisions and work prepares them to think of themselves as responsible. Having a self-image of being responsible is developed by a life-time of training, day by day.
Part of the daily task of a mom is to teach her children character, responsibility and the stewardship of taking care of all that God has placed into our hands. Part of that process is helping our children picturing themselves as responsible for the world, for sharing the gospel, for the way they invest their time, for stewarding money and for taking care of their relationships.
Learning by real life practices makes more impression on us as well as our children—far more than lecturing them or giving them advice. Engaging in real life builds our self-image.
Many areas of life can become training grounds for children. One area Joy loved learning responsibility in was gardening. When she was a small child, I brought her with me into my garden when I planted roses, cultivated irises and daffodils, and made our yard beautiful. Though it is very hard to grow plants and flowers at 7300 feet altitude and on the rock base of our land, which is basically a mountain, I have attempted to grow many different plants. I love flowers and am determined to keep trying until I make the perfect garden!
Each year I would take my children, but especially Joy, with me and have them do the work by my side. Now, Joy is still inclined to plant her own garden each year because she gained an appetite for creating beauty, through me training her to be a steward of our home and garden. Even when she returned from college over the years, one of the first things she would do was to buy herbs, tomato plants and a few cutting flowers to plant. The training and breathing into her of these appetites have formed a pattern in her heart for being a steward of beauty.
So it is with other areas. Reaching out to our neighbors to love them and share God's love with our children in tow gives our children a sense of stewardship for ministry.
Giving our children a jar to save their loose change in, builds up to whole jar full, that they can choose where it will be used in giving to missions trains them to feel a responsibility to help support church and missions as an adult.
Counseling our children a million times to make peace with a sibling or helping them learn to work hard with the family to ready the house for out of town company builds a self-image of “I am responsible to be faithful to serve others. It is what “Clarkson” do.
How can you bring your children into the areas you faithfully cultivate and steward today? As you train them to be faithful in their small corner of the world, their capacity and stewardship will also grow as they become better prepared for all that God will call them to as world changers for his Kingdom.
What you teach, model, and practice for your children is what they are most likely to value when they grow up. Give them small ways to be faithful, so they can become strong in exercising bigger stewardship muscles when they are adults.
Faithfulness does not happen all at once, as with other character qualities. And none of my children were perfectly faithful—it takes time to get a concept, train it, explain it and model it. They all grow imperfectly but it is a growing towards the ideal. When we see that they have a sense of their own personal call to be faithful inside, then we know they are ready to extend mature wisdom in making “faithful” decisions in their own personal lives.
Nathan did go to New York, he had a great year, made wonderful friends and came out with his faith intact. He was faithful at home to have integrity with his friends, to work at a job, to go to church and to make wise choices. His learning to practice faithfulness in front of us gave him and us an objective way to evaluate whether we should approve his decision to move to New York as a young man. He passed the test at home, and we were free to trust him to a bigger arena. Remember: