In God We Trust

by Duane Maust
Mother’s Day
May 14, 2006
Matthew 6: 19-24

This is Mother’s Day. This will be a sermon that will help mothers out in dealing with children. It will be for the fathers as well. I trust our youth and children and grandparents will learn also.

How many times do you hear, “I want it, and I want it now!” “But, Mom, everyone else has one!” “Dad, can I please have it? It will make me happy.”

I want to talk about money today. How are we teaching our children to handle money? Is the way we handle money with our children a big fight or are they learning good money values?

Money is a big issue no matter what age our children are. From the preschooler who begs for another toy to the college student who graduates buried in $10,000 of credit card debt plus the school loan.

I chose Matt. 6 for my text because it reminds us in a clear way that we cannot let money become too important in our lives. We need money to live. We get bombarded with ads that try to tell our children and ourselves what we need.

There will be something for all of us to think about today. Are we trusting God or trusting in our money? How tightly am I holding my money?

Steve Brostos, with Mennonite Mutual Aid, gave me this book Prodigal Sons and Material Girls – How not to be Your Child’s ATM. It is written by Nathan Dungan. This book is very helpful and I’m quoting from it this morning.

We are raising a generation that are going to have trouble differentiating between the things they need and those they want. They get guidance on sex, drugs, alcohol, tobacco, careers and dating. Unfortunately, on money we are often silent.

We are often struggling with money ourselves. Few parents have formal training in finances. So here we are trying to make ends meet and trying to teach our kids values on money.

Dungan says, “Our culture speaks loud and clear, ‘Forget about saving. It you want it, buy it. If you can’t afford it, charge it. Don’t worry about the cost. Don’t worry about how much you already owe. Life is fun and exciting when you go anywhere and do anything you like.'”

According to Ken Gronbach, generational marketer and president of KGA Communications, children under the age of 20 spend 5 times more – in inflation adjusted dollars – than their parents did at the same age.

Shopping with children can be a challenge. One thing that Elaine did that really helped was to give the money to the kids to spend. Some of you heard this before, but it is worth repeating. We took what we spent the year before for clothes and school expenses and lunch money and gave that amount to the kids each month. It was theirs to spend. If Nathan wanted name brand jeans, he could buy two pairs and wash several times a week. If they chose to go garage saling, their closet could be full of clothes. If they wanted to save lunch money, they could pack their lunches. Yes, this took Elaine a good bit of time to help them shop. But I think it did some good teaching. They could see their money come and go. They had control of what they wore. It helped Christine and Nathan decide if name brand was worth paying extra for. They did this with the family grocery money too.

Our children today can see between 20,000 and 40,000 television commercials every year. Advertisers will do anything to create a following for their product, and they send endless streams of devious ways to plug their products. We have to tell children what to believe with all this hitting them. 31 percent of the student say their parents rarely or never discuss setting financial goals with them. 30 percent report that their parents rarely or never discuss saving and investing with them. Let’s see it we can raise the percentage.

When do you get started trying to shape your child’s financial values? Nathan Dungan says, “A simple rule of thumb: By the time your child can say ‘I want,’ you should be aware of the messages your child gets from you and the surrounding environment.”

Let’s help our children understand the difference between needs and wants. It is easy for us to get these mixed up.

Talk about what the differences are with your children. Talk about this with your grandparents. Think about how we have changed the last 50 years, the last 25 years.

Another thing that Dungan points out in his book is the need to teach the priorities on sharing, saving and spending. He means for it to be in that order.

How do we teach our children how to give money away?

When I was 8 or 9 my parents helped me raise a calf, and the money I raised from that calf I used to support a boy my age in Eastern Kentucky at a mission church. We did that for several years. My family went to Kentucky one summer to visit the children that we were supporting. When I was at Rosedale Bible Institute, Phil was my roommate one term by chance. He is now a pastor in Eastern Kentucky. Several years ago I took cabinets to their church. Look at the long-term effect my parents had on me when they lined up this project.

What are some things that we can do today to help our children learn those important lessons of sharing? Yard sales for Katinia victims would be one that I have seen. They can mow a neighbor’s yard that is not able. They can do MDS work. When our children get their first jobs, do we teach them to find good organizations to give it to? United Way, Community of Hope, the church, Pine Lake Camp. It can be fun giving money away. Help them learn that joy.

Are we teaching our children how to save? Are we helping them put reserves for short and long term goals? What percent are they saving? I encourage you to come up with a plan.

Share 10-15%, save 5-10%, then spend 80% on needs that you have. See what you can do.

Proverbs 22: 6 is a good reminder for us. “Train children in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it.”

We had the youth over about a month ago. Elaine was talking to the youth about money and the importance of a budget. Toward the end of the evening they asked me questions about my cycle.

It made me think about how I made decisions about wants. For one thing, I will not borrow money for a luxury item. I want to have the money on hand before I buy it. I want to be sure my buying a luxury item does not affect my giving. We try to keep our giving above 20%. The Lord blesses well and I feel it should be over 10%. In our hard years on the farm, we still did 10% giving. Yes, Elaine said it was ok to buy a cycle, but she would not have bought one herself. Cycling is a hobby I enjoy.

Thanks, youth, for asking those questions. It keeps us on our toes.

In the book that we are studying in the Believers class, God’s Story, Our Story, it has some interesting numbers.

“In North America, we have to wonder why, given our material wealth, many are not happy. The people who have the most in our societies – celebrities – are four times more likely to commit suicide than the average person. The ones who have it all – sports stars, Hollywood entertainers, and musicians – live an average of only 56 years, compared to the average life span of around 72.”

Let’s be careful that we keep in mind what we are living for. Are we letting our things get in the way of God? Let us make sure we trust in God and not the money.

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