Let's be honest. They get the desire for stuff from us. We wanted stuff when we were kids and now, as adults, we are still captivated by stuff. New car stuff. A bigger house stuff. Clothes stuff. Jewellery stuff. Big bank account stuff. A bigger TV stuff.
Gotta' have that stuff. Because stuff brings happiness, right? Stuff boosts our self-esteem. Getting more stuff makes us secretly glad that our neighbors are envious of our stuff.
I'm not totally knocking stuff. I don't believe there is anything wrong with having nice stuff. As long as stuff doesn't have you. And as long as you don't let the pursuit of stuff sidetrack you from your pursuit of Jesus.
So how can we help kids avoid the out-of-control pursuit of stuff? Let's look how to teach kids at church about this and how to get into the hands of parents.
Help kids and families see what really matters. Parents want their children to be successful. Academic success. Athletic success. Social success. Financial success. Why? Because these are all pathways to getting more "stuff."
What we must do as church leaders, is help kids and parents see that spiritual success is what matters the most. Yes, it's a good thing to provide a nice house for your family...but make sure the house is a home that puts Jesus first. Yes, it's okay to have a nice car in the garage...but make sure that car is driving the kids to church on Sunday. Yes, it's okay to have a big bank account...but make sure you are using a percentage of it to spread the Gospel.
Teach kids a proper view of stuff from an early age. It's crucial, from an early age, to teach kids that all of our stuff belongs to God. He has entrusted us with stuff. And we should honor Him with our stuff by being generous and investing in God's kingdom.
Preschoolers can learn to bring their offering. Elementary kids can be taught in more detail about how to use your stuff to help others find Jesus.
One weekend, when the elementary kids walked into their room at church, there was candy at each seat. We told them not to eat the candy and to leave it on the table in front of them. We then taught a lesson about giving your stuff to help others. Then, later in the service, we told them the candy sitting in front of them, was theirs to keep. It was more stuff to take home and enjoy.
But, we explained the second option. There is a city about an hour from them that is very poor. The kids there have little to anything. Getting candy is a big deal to them.
So the kids that day had a choice.
They could keep the candy and take it home to eat
they could leave the candy and it would be delivered to the kids in the city who had hardly any "stuff."
We had the kids bow their heads and we prayed together. You could feel the tension in the room as the kids struggled through keeping the candy or giving it to someone else.
I'm happy to say that the majority of kids left the candy. And I believe all of the kids that day learned what it means to not let "stuff" keep you from doing what God wants you to do.
Studies have shown that childhood is the time when a person is most likely to associate happiness with stuff. And so, we have a great opportunity to speak into the lives of kids and parents and help them understand what it means to "seek first the kingdom of God."
"Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously and He will give you everything you need."