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Greatest Parenting Struggles: Contentment

3d illustration: Mobile technology. mobile phone“I think with most parents they have to keep the world from raising them. Which is a daily battle. They see commercials and other kids with things that they think they just have to have. Little Johnny or Suzy has one, so why can’t I have one? the correct response would be an old as old as the hills, continue to stand your ground and say, if Johnny jumped off a cliff…”

 

For the first installment in this new series I want to look at contentment. I must first confess that this was something that I struggle greatly. It wasn’t until God called me to ministry and I began to focus on him that this changed. In America most of us are consumed with this desire to have the latest and greatest, the best of everything. We often refer to this as “keeping up with the Joneses.” Well, prior to God calling me to ministry, WE WERE THE JONESES. We had it all, new cars; big, fancy house; and the latest electronics. You name it, we had it. So, what changed?

 

What lessons are YOUR habits teaching your kids? Our kids will learn more from what they see us do then what they hear us say. Are we teaching them contentment with our words, but teaching them something else with our lives? How old is your car? How big is your TV? Do you have the latest electronics? If you don’t have them do you WANT them really bad? I’m not telling you that you can’t have nice stuff. When the Bible tells us not to covet it isn’t saying that we can’t have nice stuff or even that we shouldn’t want it. Rather it is telling us that our desire for such things should not consume us. If having the

newest, best, most fancy stuff is important to you, it WILL be important to your kids. Learn to be content and you can begin to teach your kids to be content.

 

Where is your focus? As I said before, the change came in my life when God called me to ministry. At that point my life became about seeking Him and serving Him. Previously it had been about seeking and serving materialism; but, when I started focusing on seeking and serving God I found that I was less interested in STUFF. I still love electronics and power tools, but I no longer build my life around the acquisition of such things. Rather I build my life around seeking a closer relationship with God and with my family and serving God with my life. Focusing on these things helped me no longer focus on material things.

 

“For where your treasure is there your heart will be also.” (Matthew 6:21) This is so true, if we have spent a lot of money on something, then we tend to care more about it. In my life I have found that tithing has been the best way for me to break free of materialism. Giving God the first 10% of the money that I make serves as a constant reminder of what is really important. We could discuss Biblical mandates. We could discuss Old Testament Law versus New Testament grace in regards to tithing. We could discuss many things in regards to tithing, but know this it WILL help you to conquer materialism and will help you to find contentment. If it works for you, it will work for your kids. Granted most of our kids don’t have jobs, but they do receive money at Christmas or birthdays, encourage them to tithe from this. If they receive an allowance, or if you pay them for certain chores around the house, either way encourage them to tithe from these earnings.

 

Awareness is the key to contentment and, at the same time, the enemy of it. I am a tech junkie. Hello. My name is Matt and I’m a techaholic. I love gadgets. In the past this was a BIG problem for me. It led me to big debt. I had a contentment issue. You see I would be completely happy with each new gadget I got, until the next one came out. As soon as I was AWARE of the new model, then the one I had was no longer good enough. Slowly, over time I would convince myself that the one I had wasn’t doing what I needed or wasn’t performing like I needed it to. I would talk myself into getting the new version. When I was not AWARE of the new one I didn’t have a problem.

 

Awareness can work the other way too. When we are aware of people who have less than us then we become more content with what we have. We cannot seclude out kids to the point that they are unaware of the latest thing, but we can help them to be aware of people that have less than us. Search out opportunities for your kids to serve people that have less. Point out people around you that have less. Maybe it’s the man on the street corner begging for food or someone in your church, or neighborhood, or someone one work with. Help you kids to be AWARE of people that have less and you will help them to develop contentment.

 

 

Matt Norman

Thanks for reading this post. I hope you enjoyed it. To ensure that you never miss a post subscribe using the space on the right side of the screen.

I am a Christian, husband, father, pastor, church planter, nurse, and freelance writer.

2 Comments

  • Walt

    Good stuff Matt.

    I think one thing that may be helpful in this area is to pay better attention to some of the messages that are out there, and in your own mind, and with your kids, confront the truth and the reality of the message. Some cellphone commercial I’ve seen recently has as a slogan “upgrade when you WANT, not when you’re TOLD”, and although it’s done with humor, sends the message that it’s fine to just destroy or get rid of what you have, because then you’ll just HAVE to replace it, and then you can buy the newest, latest fastest, best. Another recent commercial (I don’t remember for what) declared “you need… NO, you HAVE THE RIGHT, to…. whatever the product or service was. Almost every advertisement these days comes with a promise that this THING will make you happier, more popular, more well respected, fulfilled and on and on it goes.

    It’s very easy to see and hear that stuff and it not register, on a conscious level, that it is a lie. So, next time you’re watching T.V. and a commercial comes on, actually listen, with some discernment, to the message, and discuss it with your kids. “What do you think that MEANS?, is it really true? Our family is following Christ and trying to live in a way that honors Him. Does this idea help our efforts to do that, or not? What “rights” do we have, and where do we get them from? What do we NEED?

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