Missions and Money
“For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”
Jesus Christ (Matthew 6: 21)
In our family’s ministry office, a carved wooden bowl displays simple coins from all around the world. Most of the pieces are dull and worn, while some are new and shiny. Our children often enjoy fingering the various francs from France, pulas from Botswana, and euros from Europe, to mention just a few. My favorite is an intricate gold-and-silver colored piece from Italy, although, as with most of these coins, I have no idea of its worth. Some of the coins are no longer in circulation; some of the countries they’re from no longer exist. All are simply extra pocket change left over from years of past mission trips, each saved as little souvenirs and little reminders that money is only a temporary “little thing.” Each coin is (or was) valuable only because some government somewhere determined it would have value.
But money is also a “big thing”— and we can’t underestimate the importance of training our children to have a godly perspective toward money and financial stewardship. Our money represents our life: our time, our talents, our education and experiences, and our priorities. In fact, if we really want to find out what is important to us, we can simply look back through our checkbooks and credit card statements over the past few months. Our true priorities are right there in black and white (or red!); and the numbers don’t lie.
It’s really very simple. If we have a heart for the Lord and for the lost, we will give our resources to glorify Him and to help spread His gospel; and if our children are raised with this perspective, it will affect their bottom line attitude toward the purpose of money. As mission-minded Christians, we need to come to the realization that our resources are not really “ours” anyway. Both parents and children need to acknowledge regularly that everything we have ultimately belongs to God: our life is God’s, our home (or bedroom) is God’s, our car (or bicycle, or special toy) is God’s, our money is God’s. We’re all simply stewards of God’s “stuff.”
“I’m not called to go; I’m called to give.”
You may have heard this common statement in regard to missions: “Some are called to go, but others are called to pray or to give.” I believe this is true— and that all of us as Christians are equally called to do our unique part in helping to fulfill the Great Commission. Whether we’re called to go or to pray or to give, the level of commitment to God’s purposes should be the same for all of us; and this is a vital principle to instill in the next generation.
As we train our children, we need to emphasize that God has blessed each of us for a bigger purpose than merely to satisfy our own wants and desires. Like Abraham, God has blessed us to establish His covenant on the earth. If your part (or your child’s part) in helping to fulfill His Great Commission is to support world missions financially, then you need to trust God to meet your needs, and you need to begin to expand your desire to help others.
If you or your child is called to be a “giver,” then begin to think (and dream) about what your money and future financial resources could do for God. Instead of browsing through department stores, catalogs, and eBay, be on the lookout for projects and people that God may want you to support. Of course, we must provide for our personal needs and prepare for our future, but as stewards of God’s Great Commission we must be willing to abandon our dreams for God’s dream!