MODEL AND TRUST
Justin says that raising young advocates is about more than just talking to your kids. It’s also about modeling the behavior you want to inspire in them. For example, he and his wife, Carrie, always set aside “God money” — part of their income designated for the offering, charitable giving and spontaneous acts of kindness.
“As the kids got older, we started talking to them about the God money. And we don’t do it to make noise or so anyone can see it, but we try to be intentional in telling our kids, ‘Hey, this is why we did what we did. It’s God’s money, we’re just called to be good stewards of it,” Justin says.
“It’s how we think of raising kids too: They’re God’s kids, we’re just trying to provide for them the best that we can.”
So when Grace, now 15, or their son, 13-year-old Alex, earn money from babysitting or other odd jobs, Justin and Carrie encourage them to set some aside as God money. They save it for when they feel inspired to give it away, like donating to a school-supply or winter-clothing drive at school.
If your family sponsors a child, Justin recommends involving your own kids in the letter writing process, praying for the child in poverty, and remembering them by hanging their picture up as “a constant reminder that the world is much bigger than just the four walls of our house.”
Justin’s also passionate about trusting that children can do more than we think they can. “It talks about it in the Bible: ‘Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young,’” Justin says, citing 1 Timothy 4:12 (NIV). “So let’s not look down on our kids. Let them rise to the challenge.”
Sometimes, he says, you need to get out of your kids’ way and let them lead. But first, “We need to teach our kids where to look and listen for ways they can make an impact.”