Teaching Children the True Power of Work

I had the most remarkable experience the other day. An arborist I had made an appointment with called to say he was running early and asked whether that was okay. It was. When I met him, he was the nicest guy, and he was clearly very knowledgeable about trees. 

He quickly alleviated some concerns my wife and I had about two tall pine trees in our yard, suggested an easy way to ensure their continued good health, and was a delight to work with. He was personable without taking up a ton of my busy workday with idle chit chat. Then he sent a very reasonable bid within a couple of hours of our meeting and the work was completed a few days later. It was such an unusually positive experience. He really made an impression on me.

I’m not sure how this came up in our conversation, but it turned out that he is a Christian. In fact, he’s a member of our multi-site church, but worships at a different location.

The excellence with which he did his job brought to mind this verse: “Each person is given something to do that shows who God is” (1 Corinthians 12:7, MSG).

A picture of what we’re aiming for

One of the greatest gifts we can give our kids is to foster within them a diligent, God-honoring work ethic. Elements of that include finishing what they start, doing jobs with excellence, and working without complaining. We want to cultivate within them those work-related character traits. And we want those ways of working to flow from healthy, God-honoring motivations.

We want our kids to be compelled by Colossians 3:23: “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart as working for the Lord and not for human masters.”

And we want them to see that in doing their work with excellence they are letting the light of their faith shine brightly.

Little beginnings, big purposes

It would be easy to think that some of the early lessons we teach our kids about money aren’t all that significant. To believe that helping young Johnny set up a lemonade stand in our neighborhood on a hot day is a little thing. 

But these are far from little things. Connecting them to God’s Word makes them incredibly big things. That’s why it’s important for us to help them make that connection. To show them where the Bible teaches us to “seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the Lord on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare” (Jeremiah 29:7). 

A lemonade stand can do much to teach Johnny important lessons about business—about the cost of materials, how to price your product to make a profit, how to market and interact with customers. But it can also do much to teach him about about the bigger picture, like how running a small business can be about seeking the welfare of his neighborhood.

It isn’t too early

Some might think it’s too much for a young child to understand such a perspective. But it’s been my experience that kids are capable of understanding more about God and money at a young age than we might assume. 

The money-related perspectives and practices our kids develop when they are young and don’t have access to much money are extremely important because they will be magnified when they are older and have access to more. 

The Bible says, “Train up a child in the way he should go; when he is old, he will not depart from it” (Proverbs 22:6).

So let’s be intentional in training up our kids in the way they should go financially, including how they work. Let’s teach them how to finish what they start, to do their work well, and to work without complaining. But let’s connect all of that to the bigger picture, helping them see that the excellence with which they do their work can show others who God is. Let’s do that for their joy and God’s glory.

For more on teaching children a biblical approach to money, pick up a copy of my new book, Trusted: Preparing Your Kids for a Lifetime of God-Honoring Money Management.

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2 Responses to Teaching Children the True Power of Work

  1. Jerry Jennings May 10, 2023 at 11:58 AM #

    This is such a wonderful illustration of the guiding principle.

    • Matt Bell May 11, 2023 at 2:55 PM #

      Thanks, Jerry!

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