• cheerful little girl holding piggybank with parents on background

    Raising Financially Healthy Kids

    “I wish my parents had taught me more about how to manage money.”  I hear this over and over again from people participating in one of the many stewardship classes at Southeast.  Far too many adults these days have learned little, if anything, from their parents about money.

    It doesn’t have to be this way.  You and I can change this for the next generation.  Your kids can leave home someday prepared to manage money God’s way instead of learning it the hard way.  “Start children off on the way they should go, and even when they are old they will not turn from it.” (Proverbs 22:6, NIV).  When you make it a priority now, they’ll make it a priority when they are an adult.  Follow these five tips for raising financially healthy kids.

    1. Make sure they know it all belongs to God.

    We need to plant this idea early.  Talk about God being the owner of everything we have.  “To the Lord your God belong the heavens, even the highest heavens, the earth and everything in it.” (Deuteronomy 10:14, NIV).  This certainly includes our money.  When we grow up thinking it’s ours – or even that 90% is ours and only 10% belongs to the Lord – this belief drives our behavior.  The truth that God is the owner is the foundation for managing money.

    2. Keep it simple.

    I love the model of Give-Save-Spend.  I like the idea of using clear jars so they can see the money accruing over time.  There is not a right or wrong way to have them divide the money.  Have them give at least 10% to giving and divide the rest into saving and spending.  Some kids will have a giving heart and want to put it all in the giving jar so they can give it away.  If that’s your kid, then celebrate and encourage that.  You may want to think about offering some incentives for saving over time by matching or offering interest.

    3. Remember that more is caught than taught.

    You must lead by example when it comes to raising kids.  If your kids always see you paying with credit cards, then they are being taught that’s how you pay for things.  Also, they are watching how Mom and Dad communicate about money.  If money is always a source of tension or conflict, then your kids are taking note.  Even though you don’t always agree, make it your goal to demonstrate oneness.  What your kids see you do is a lot more powerful than what they hear you say.

    4. Model the budgeting process.

    See Also: Keys to Budgeting Success

    If your kids see you always spending without any mention of a budget or the trade-offs that come with living on a spending plan, then you are modeling that for these future adults.  Get them involved in the family budget, at least from an awareness standpoint, if not from a decision-making standpoint.  For example, engage them in the family entertainment budget.  Let them be a part of making the decision to have pizza and watch a movie at home three times in a month versus going out to a movie and pizza once since that’s all the budget allows.  Give them opportunities to learn about the trade-offs that exist when you live on a spending plan.

    5. Give an allowance based on work completed.

    Don’t give your kids money just for being a part of the family.  Instead give an allowance based on chores they do around the house like taking out the trash, or cleaning their room or mowing the grass.  This will help them understand that money is earned and not just given to them.

    Don’t wait until your kids are in college to teach them about money.  Get started now.  Put these 5 tips into practice and someday your adult children might say, “I’m so glad my parents taught me how to manage money God’s way.”

    Learn proven principles and practical wisdom for raising God-honoring, financially healthy kids.  Build your children up by giving them a solid understanding of how money works and how to make wise choices in the next Raising Financially Healthy Kids seminar.

    Register for a Raising Financially Healthy Kids seminar today!

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  • Cupped hands of a man hopefully held up. Cupped hands asking for help or charity

    True Generosity: Characteristics of a Generous Person

    Let me ask you a question, “Do you consider yourself to be a generous person?”  If you are like most people, then you answered “Yes.”  Maybe you feel generous because you give regularly to good causes, serve food to the homeless, or at times pay for the person behind you in the drive-thru.  Perhaps you feel generous because you faithfully tithe 10% to your local church.  All of these are good things to do, but are they good indicators of being a generous person?

    The Bible provides some clear criteria for knowing whether you are a generous person and how you can become one.  Here are some characteristics of true generosity:

    True generosity gives the first to God.  When you receive a paycheck or any other source of income, giving to the Lord should be your first and top priority.  Proverbs 3:9 says, “Honor the Lord with your wealth, with the firstfruits of all your crops.”  Generous people recognize all they possess belongs to God, and so they give to Him their first and their best.

    True generosity gives in proportion to your income.  Jesus taught us this when He said, “…from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked” (Luke 12:48).  A tithe, or 10% of your income, is a good starting point for determining the amount you give.  But Jesus didn’t limit the amount to a particular number.  We should give more or less in proportion to how much God blesses us with.

    True generosity gives systematically.  Generosity is not a feeling or simply giving a few bucks to someone as a random act of kindness.  Being generous is a lifestyle.  That’s what Paul is getting at when he writes to the church in Corinth, “On the first day of the week, each of you should set aside a sum of money in keeping with your income, saving it up…” (1 Corinthians 16:2).  Generous people give regularly in accordance with what they have decided ahead of time to do.

    True generosity gives sacrificially.  Jesus’ model for generosity was a widow who gave her last penny. One day Jesus was at the temple watching some wealthy people give their offering, but then a poor widow came to give only two small coins.  He told His disciples, “This poor widow has put in more than all the others.  All these people gave their gifts out of their wealth; but she out of her poverty put in all she had to live on” (Luke 21:3-4).   Generous people understand the amount sacrificed always supersedes amount given.

    True generosity gives cheerfully.  Generous people want to give as an act of worship in response to who God is and all that He’s done.  2 Corinthians 9:7 says, “Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.”  We should not give grudgingly out of guilt or obligation.  Generosity is giving thoughtfully, voluntarily and with a joyful spirit.

    God does not ask of us anything that He has not first done for us.  The most famous verse in the Bible begins, “For God so loved the world that He gave…” (John 3:16).  God is the ultimate model for true generosity.  You and I are made in the image of God and we are most like Him when we give.  Together, let’s take our next step to becoming the generous person God has made us to be.

    Take your next step to becoming the generous person God has called you to be by participating in an upcoming Legacy Journey class.  Learn how to manage your wealth responsibly and share it to make an impact in the lives of the Kingdom of God for generations to come during this 7-week class.

    Register for a Legacy Journey class today!

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  • A Family on Mission

    A Family on Mission

    In the 2004 Olympics held in Athens, Greece, Matt Emmons competed in the fifty-meter, three-position rifle competition. He went into the final round with a commanding lead and needed only to get near the bull’s eye in order to win the Gold medal. He set his sights on the target and fired. It appeared he had gotten plenty close enough to win. He waited, but no score appeared. The officials huddled before announcing that Emmons had cross-fired – an extremely rare mistake to make in such an elite level of competition. He had hit the wrong target, so they had no choice but to give him a score of zero, dropping him to eighth place.

    Many people get to the end of their life only to realize that much of their life was spent focused on the wrong things. How about you? Are you focused on the right target? Most of us live very un-focused lives distracted by the dozens of things we have chosen to cram into our schedules. We lack anything that really centers or guides how we choose to spend our limited time.

    The Bible speaks about two different ways to run the race of life:

    Don’t you realize that in a race everyone runs, but only one person gets the prize? So run to win! All athletes are disciplined in their training. They do it to win a prize that will fade away, but we do it for an eternal prize. So I run with purpose in every step. (1 Corinthians 9:24-26 NLT)

    God has a plan and purpose for your life. He has called you to something more significant than what your chaotic and frenzied life reflects. God wants every step of your life to be on purpose.

    So how can your life become more focused? And how do you determine what to focus on? Well, there is a powerful tool that will help you answer these important questions. That tool is a Family Mission Statement.

    When you have a Family Mission Statement:

    • Decisions are easier to make.
    • Activities are more enjoyable and life is more satisfying.
    • Enables you to fulfill God’s purposes for your family.
    • Helps parents intentionally prepare children for the work God has for them in the future.

    Without vision, people perish. (Proverbs 29:18 NIV)

    When a family gets really clear about the specific mission God has called them to, it brings focus to the activities of their life. They know how to make choices about what to spend time on and what not to spend time on. Having a family mission statement helps you aim at the right target.

    9 Steps to Developing a Family Mission Statement:

    1. Make it a family project.  Involve everybody in the process. When everyone has a voice, then everyone will take ownership of the mission and be involved in the outcome. Some families I know have taken a family retreat over a weekend to knock it out in a couple days. Others will work on it over a several weeks by taking a couple hours on a family night once a week.

    2. Start with prayer.  Ask God for clear direction and insight into His plan for your family. Pray for unity as you work together on this project.

    3. Explore each family member’s greatest strengths and talents.  Take the time to identify each family member’s spiritual gifts, passions, natural abilities, personality, and experiences.

    4. Identify your family’s core values.  Discuss the principles that are most important to each member of your family. What are their most deeply held beliefs? What keeps you up at night? Look for unifying themes and narrow it down to three to five core family values.

    5. Talk about how you’d like your family to be remembered years from now.  When people think of your family, how would you like them to finish this sentence: “The Carter’s are a family that ____________.”

    6. Identify your family’s ministry goals.  If you could do anything to influence the world for Christ, what would it be? What group of people are you naturally drawn to? Who do you feel led to pray for?

    7. Craft a succinct statement that captures a unified purpose for your family.  There are lots of creative ways to do this. You might want to put up some poster board or a marker board and use brightly colored post-it-notes to do some brainstorming exercises. Let everyone play a part and make sure they see their fingerprints on it. If you have young kids, then make sure to make it a fun experience.

    8. Display and express your family’s mission in creative ways.  You may want to frame it and put it in a prominent location in your home. Make it your mantra and repeat it to each other regularly as a reminder.

    9. Find a regular time for your family to pray and evaluate your progress.  Maybe once a year set aside time to review and evaluate how your family is doing. Are you staying on mission or drifting? Celebrate some victories and determine some ways to improve.

    Being a part of a family on mission brings focus to how you spend your time. You will learn to run every choice for how you spend your time through the filter of your mission. A family on mission is a powerful force!



    Participate in the next Free to Live class and discover how to break free from the madness of your busy life and reprioritize around what matters by applying God’s principles to manage your time.

    Register for the Free to Live class today!

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  • Avoiding the Comparison Trap: 4 Practices to Help Win the Battle of Contentment

    Last year my wife and I made the decision to reduce our summer family vacation budget by twenty-five percent. With a little planning we were able to return to our favorite destination by changing accommodations and eating out at different restaurants. The condo we rented didn’t come with an ocean-view, but it was nicely furnished and only five-hundred yards from the beach. I was quite content getting up early, eating breakfast and enjoying an extended quiet-time on the garden-view patio of our condo. That is, until I saw my Pastor friend’s social media post: “Not a bad place for my Quiet Time” with a picture taken from his ocean view vacation rental. How’s that for a contentment buster? Next thing you know I’m comparing my vacation to his vacation and questioning our new budget.

    We live in a culture of constant comparison. We measure ourselves against the people around us to determine our success. A mom looks at Pinterest, and comes away with her greatest fears confirmed: her kids look shabby, her house looks dumpy, and her clothes look frumpy. A dad feels okay with his paid-for 10-year-old carpet-stained mini-van until he gets in the carpool line behind someone driving a brand new luxury SUV. According to your social-media feed, your monotonous boring existence is a poor excuse for living when you compare it to others whose lives are apparently exciting all the time. The temptation to compare yourself to others is lurking around every corner.

    Comparison is a game everybody plays, but nobody ever wins. If you are tired of playing the comparison game and struggling with contentment, then maybe it’s time to make a few changes. The Bible has a lot to say about this topic. Here are four practices that will move you towards a life of greater contentment.

    1. Be grateful for what you do have.

    Instead of focusing on what you don’t have, reflect on what you do have and thank God for it. There is no room for discontentment in a heart filled with gratitude. If you struggle with contentment, then you might consider starting a gratitude journal. Build a running list of the things you are grateful for by adding 2 or 3 entries every day. You will be less likely to compare when you are reminded of all that God has given you.

    Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. (1 Thess. 5:18)

    2. Give what you have to help others.

    Be willing to share what God has given you with others. It’s hard to be preoccupied with what you don’t have, when you are busy serving someone in need. Find ways to give your time, money and talents to make a difference in someone else’s life.

    Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. (Luke 6:38)

    3. Celebrate the success of others.

    Be excited for others when they succeed. Stop thinking, “I wish it were me” and start saying, “I’m happy for you.” There isn’t much room for jealousy and envy in your heart when you are cheering someone on. We are a part of the body of Christ, so we all win when they win. We shouldn’t hesitate to celebrate when others are blessed.

    If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it. (1 Cor. 12:26)

    4. Put your hope in God, not in achievements or material possessions.

    Have you ever found yourself thinking, “If I could just get that (job, house, spouse, college degree, etc.), I would be happier”? Usually, you find yourself wanting more after achieving that goal. Placing your hope in “things” will never fully and finally satisfy. No matter how much money you have, what kind of house you own or what job you have, nothing can fulfill you the way Jesus can. He is the only one who can fill that desire in you for something more. God created you in such a way that all your desires will be met in Him alone.

    I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength. (Philippians 4:12-13)

    Comparing yourself to others is a hard habit to break. Next time you find yourself getting trapped again by comparison, turn to God who gives you the strength to be the person He is calling you to be.



    Our new class, The Generosity Experience will take you on a six-week journey of learning how to love where you are through acts of kindness and generosity, identifying and serving people who are broke and broken by the messiness of life.

    Register for The Generosity Experience class today!

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