As I watched my children fight over who got the biggest piece of brownie, I wondered what I had done wrong. You see, my children are innately selfish which is compounded by the fact that we live in a culture focused on immediate gratification. Does it ever feel like everything in our society aims at filling our desires quickly? From fast food to Facebook, we do not need to wait or to wonder.
My children do not even know true hunger because I make sure to always have snacks readily available. We don’t want them grouchy, right? What would happen though if I taught them to wait on food, to endure hunger pains? I imagine their impulses would die down and an improved self-control develop.
I know a family that allows only one of their children at each visit to get a happy meal at McDonald’s. The other kids get just a sandwich. Sounds unfair, right? The kids don’t mind though and are excited for whoever’s turn it is. They have had practice sacrificing their desires for the sake of another and now it’s natural. They seem to have lost that sense of entitlement that is so common among today’s child.
One way we are practicing this is through a Jar of Sacrifice. We bought an oddly-shaped sea glass jar from Old Time Pottery. This is the place where not just spare change goes. It is a jar that chore money and birthday money can go. Nobody counts or pressures, it is just our own family vessel to practice giving. There’s a saying “Give until it hurts and then keep giving until it doesn’t”. When my kids do chores now, they don’t think twice about throwing in some or all of that money. They are slowly learning to loosen their grip.
When the jar is filled, we will have a family gathering to discuss how we are going to bless others with its contents. They already have ideas brewing. I look forward to figuring out how to get the money out of that tiny hole, and I am certain there will be pride as we total those little sacrifices along the way.
My prayer is that their hearts will take such joy in seeing how these sacrifices have directly blessed others, that they will naturally be generous givers with all that has been entrusted to them, even if a brownie is involved.
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