Parenting in a changing world changes us.
My family has witnessed this firsthand. We are learning what matters and what doesn’t.
We teach our kids that giving doesn’t make us poor, but it does cost us. Mother Teresa once said, “You must give what will cost you something. This is giving not just what you can live without, but what you can’t live without, or don’t want to live without. . . . Then your gift becomes a sacrifice, which will have value before God. This giving until it hurts—this sacrifice—is what I call love in action.” This kind of love-driven giving has a high cost, but we keep paying it because the value we receive is higher.
God’s divine will is for us to be generous and for us to raise givers. But sometimes the space between his sovereign plan for our lives on the one hand and the redemption of our problems, our pain, and the wayward path we choose on the other hand is difficult to comprehend. It’s much easier to trace the redemptive thread he weaves through the seasons of our lives once we’ve lived them. In the uncertain times living with joy is often discovered not in our gains but in what we give away. We find we are helped when we stop to help others. There is a deep, abiding, secret joy in sharing the kingdom of heaven.
If we polled parents across North America most would probably say their number-one goal for their children is to be successful and happy. But the actor Jim Carrey, who has been described as both, says, “I think everybody should get rich and famous and do everything they ever dreamed of so they can see that it’s not the answer.”
Sustainable joy is found in this truth: “There is more happiness in giving than in receiving” (Acts 20:35 GNT).
We have met Jesus face-to-face in the middle of their giving, and it made us want to give their lives away too. We join them in discovering the secret to true joy: giving is receiving.
Perhaps the most powerful lesson we teach our children is that their unique places and positions in life are not for their convenience; they are for God’s glory. David Platt puts it like this: “[God] has designed your life uniquely for the display and declaration of his love to people who don’t know it.
I can’t offer you quick fixes or easy answers in our unstable world. But if you’re hunting for more joy in our changing world and deep-seated, unparalleled joy in your home that isn’t dependent on culture, class, or chaos, then giving your life away is a good place to start.