money smart or not

At times, I catch myself  daydreaming up ways to help my adult children through the typical financial straits of adulthood. I want to simply give them a house or car rather than wait and watch them learn to not fritter away what they do have. Sometimes I think, “if I helped them financially, then they would make more effort to call or visit.”

Sounds good, but I have too many decades of observation behind me to believe that. Through observation I have seen that life works very differently than that. For some, no matter how much help they receive, it never is enough. 

One friend tried and tried to answer every financial request only to repeatedly hear, “I need more money.” Over the years my friend said, “They expect us to have more and give them more. It never is enough. Now they are angry because we won’t fork over more money.”

Even after an abundance of financial gifts, the recipient forgot all the past gifts and walked away when the parents failed to respond to one more financial whim.

Another lesson by observation began as I learned of a household that teetered on the edge of financial ruin. At times utility bills went unpaid until the shut-off notice actually happened. Slowly their source of income dwindled drastically until the day they turned to their Heavenly Father.

Within hours, He came through with paying jobs that continued steadily and their worries abated. Praise for His abundance flowed freely. They could not keep from telling others and praying for that same blessing for others in the midst of a financial desert. 

Several years later, the ones who had watched, holding their breath from the sidelines, saw another huge financial blessing come to this same person. This time it came in the form of a small fortune. To me it sounded like it would provide a comfortable retirement even after paying off house, car and any other outstanding bills. The thing that had never happened to anyone I knew happened to them. God had topped off His steady original blessings with a fantastic, final solution.

When someone suggested a small amount should possibly be shared with others, their response reminded me of a little kid with arms full of toys, standing in front of the overflowing toy box. An empty-handed child enters the room and reaches to play with one of the toys. The little kid hugs everything tightly and screams, “No! You can’t play with that! It’s mine. All mine!” 

I did not know the depth of the refusal to share until a few years later when I casually mentioned our church’s sewing ministry for Operation Christmas Child. I added, “Does your church do that?”

“I don’t go to church anymore,” they said. 

Dumbfounded, I only managed to mutter, “Oh, I am sorry to hear that.”

Silently I reflected, “all those funds. Enough to have a really nice house, car, clothes and food. They have everything but a thankful, giving heart.”

It underscored for me the need to continually praise God for His provisions, to share with others and to pray often the prayer of Proverbs 30:8b-9 (The Message) Give me enough food to live on, neither too much nor too little. If I’m too full, I might get independent, saying, “God? Who needs him? If I’m poor, I might steal and dishonor the name of my God.”

I pray the same for my family. As much as I would love to be able to give them an instant financial solution, I want more that they learn the lesson of wise management, generosity with the funds that God gives them and a thankful heart for all that He does provide.