Bring Back Work Week: The Virtue of Selflessness
Posted by Melanie in Manly Virtues, Raising Boys

Awhile back, something changed my attitude toward our children and their spending habits – and we are all better off for it. We were out and about somewhere and one of the children said, “Mama, I’d like to buy the family dessert!” It almost happened right then. I could feel the words forming in my mind to respond as is natural in our culture,”Oh no, honey! You worked hard saving that money up. Save it for something special for yourself. I want you to spend it on you.” I wanted him to be able to buy himself the special things he wanted that we couldn’t afford and I hate to see them waste their money on an expensive snack that is gone in a few minutes. But I didn’t.

Suddenly, I saw things in a different light entirely.

I realized I was about to speak the normal, expected thing, but was it the right thing? What was I teaching him? What would the Lord have said? “Give and it will be given to you…”  is much more likely than, “Save it for yourself!” I suspect the Lord would be glad if he began to learn to provide for his family. I realized that if I was going to teach him to follow the Word of God and not his own desires, it would be these little things that really made the difference. And just perhaps, it would be a better use of his money to learn selflessness giving than it would be to buy another toy.

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“Sure son, what would you like to do? How much money do you have?” He bought a couple of cartons of ice cream and we took them home to the family. Everyone was so excited and he was so happy and proud. He kept watching the other children, enjoying their delight. He enjoyed it way more than he would have even if he’d eaten it all himself. Why didn’t I see that earlier? Now, we encourage the children to use their money to bless others – and particularly their family. “Sure, you could buy a bag of candy and eat it all yourself, but you’d feel terrible afterward. Wouldn’t it be more fun to buy something to share with everyone?”

Since then, we’ve had many family treats provided by one or the other of our children. They’ve brought home a lot of ice cream and bought some out, too. The older ones have taken mom or dad out to dinner, or brought us home a book or a treat when they’ve been out. They look for opportunities to provide what the family needs, or to plan special experiences for everyone, or just to buy a bag of chips or fruit to share.
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Just today, I was mentioning that one of our sons was struggling to make it to the next paycheck due to some circumstances beyond his control. Another son who is himself working at barely over minimum wage to pay his expenses at college, said, “Mom! I’ve got some money in my account. Please tell him he can use that. I’d be glad for him to!” I was humbled. Somehow our children have learned a generosity that doesn’t come naturally to me. They care more about each other than they do their own wants and desires. They are learning to be producers and providers.

It starts with the little things. Would you like some ice cream? There’s lots!


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