On getting schooled by your 8-year-old on generosity


I’ve read 4 books about generosity this year.

I meet with a team to discuss and plan for generosity.

I talk about generosity a lot in my work.

But you know who has taught me the most about generosity lately?  My 8-year-old son.

Last week, we were up at his school for open house.  We were standing in the hall as he showed me his work posted on the wall outside his classroom.  I was supposed to answer questions to see if I was smarter than a third grader.  (I’m happy to announce that I got my question right!  Whew!)

And then one of his friends walked by and I noticed it.  He had something on that was obviously Caleb’s.  I looked at Caleb.  Caleb looked at me.  I asked him about it.  He said he had let his friend borrow it.

It was something that I kind of have sentimental feelings about.  This item is something kind of special.

This kind of thing has happened before.

Years ago, Caleb was dying for some little toys that kids at school were getting through a fundraiser.  We were not doing the fundraiser, so he was not getting them.  Then one day much later, I was walking through Target and saw a box of them.  I don’t buy my kids toys very often, but I knew how much Caleb had been wanting them.  A wave of love for him flooded over me in the aisle, and I decided to buy them for him.  To surprise him with these small toys that he had been wanting for so long.

He took these toys with him everywhere.  He carried them in a little bag.  One night, we went to dinner with family and he left them at the restaurant.  On the way home, he realized he had left them and was freaking out.  I called the restaurant, but they said they didn’t see them.  I even left our phone number to call us back if they did turn up.

Months later, I found more of these small toys and bought them for Caleb.  They came in a pack of 12.  That same day, two of his friends came over to the house and he proceeded to give most of the toys away.

I’ll be honest.  I was hurt.  Buying him those toys had been a big deal to me.  It was an act of love.  It was something special that I wanted to do for him.  But he gave them away.

And I’ll be honest again.  Last week, standing in the hall at his school, I had him ask for this other special item back.

Later that night, I told Caleb how proud I was of him that he is so willing to give anything he has away.  No matter how special it is.  I really am proud of him.

But that night has haunted me ever since.

I don’t really know what I should have done.  Maybe I should have let the other kid keep the item that was special to me.  Or maybe I did the right thing to try to teach my son that sometimes things are just special and you need to think of what they mean to others also.

I really don’t know.

But I can tell you that I learned just how generous my son is.  And I should strive to be more like him.  I know for a fact he gives things away all the time.  If someone needs something or wants something, he wants to give anything he can.  And I know that because of his generosity, he is on the receiving end all the time too.  He comes home with things that kids from school gave him all the time.

These kids know how to give!

Over the last week, I’ve been wrestling with things.  I want to be someone who is extravagantly generous with all that I have.  I don’t want material things to have a hold on me.  I know everything that I have belongs to God.  I should be willing to give everything!

I want to be part of a church that is known for its extravagant giving.  A church that boldly gives money and things away to those that need them because it knows that God is not a God of scarcity…He is a God of enough.

I want to test God when He says, “Test me in this, and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that there will not be room enough to store it.”

To do that, I need to be more like my 8-year-old son.


“Because of our desire to succeed, to meet these ever-growing expectations, we do not rest.  Because we do not rest, we lose our way.”

“Sabbath is a way of being in time where we remember who we are, remember what we know, and taste the gifts of spirit and eternity.”

“We must have a period in which we lie fallow, and restore our souls.”

“Sabbath time is time off the wheel, time when we take our hands from the plow and let God and the earth care for things, while we drink, if only for a few moments, from the fountain of rest and delight.”

“It is the presence of something that arises when we consecrate a period of time to listen to what is most deeply beautiful, nourishing, or true.”

“It was not Israel that kept the Sabbath, it is said, but the Sabbath kept Israel.”

“Once people feel nourished and refreshed, they cannot help but be kind; just so, the world aches for the generosity of a well-rested people.”

(All quotes taken from the book Sabbath: Finding rest, renewal, and delight in our busy lives by Wayne Muller)

Until recently, I thought the Sabbath was all about going to church on Sunday mornings.  That’s pretty much it.

I’ve always gone to church, but honestly, my soul has never felt completely at rest.  I have always rushed through my weekends just as I rush through my week.  I took time out of my schedule to attend church, and while I gained some great benefits from church, I would leave the church service each week ready to rush through the rest of my day in order to get ready for the busy week.

But lately, that has been changing. My soul longs for more.  It knows that more is out there.  A better way of being and living.  My soul has been tired, weary, thirsty and used up.  Looking for rest.  Needing to be filled.

The world of the Sabbath is opening up to me.  There is much, much more out there!  And I long to really, truly observe the Sabbath with my family in ways that provide rest to all of our souls, minds, spirits and bodies.  Ways that we can be filled with quiet, each others’ presence, the lives of friends, and filled by the Holy Spirit.

And I know that for this to happen, there must be a plan.  A set time where we stop each week.  A time that is sacred and holy to our family.  It doesn’t necessarily have to be the same time each week.  There just needs to be intentional time.

So, I’m wondering: what is your experience with the Sabbath?  How have you tried to set aside a time weekly, or even daily, to quiet your soul, spend time with God, listen to Him and allow Him to fill you back up?  I’d love to hear from you!