How Generosity Becomes a Curse


In September 2015 I began generously offering cold water, a Bible story, and tablet time to children but recently stopped.

Not because too many came…

but because my generosity became a sense of entitlement

Monday afternoon a girl who had already been given water, tablet time, a story, and a small snack asked me to give her a sticker.  When I refused she said “Mr. John the Bible tells you to share!”

It’s easy to blame the girl but the truth is my generosity created the problem.

  1. By saying “okay but this is the last time” instead of explaining a disobedient child didn’t deserve a reward
  2. By giving tablet time or snacks to EVERYBODY instead of just those who behaved
  3. By not following up on my discipline (they are banned for three days, but I let them come back tomorrow if they promise to be good)
  4. By changing my “no” to a “yes” on way too many occasions

So instead of rewarding obedience my generosity rewarded children who demanded things

There will of course be moments of extravagant generosity towards everyone like Christmas, but these should focus on the Gospel and Christ’s sacrifice instead of strengthening a belief that God will meet all of their needs.  

The answer isn’t to became an “Ebeneezer Scrooge”  who refuses to give anything but becoming extravagantly generous to those who obey.

  1.  By having a clear way of deciding who has behaved or misbehaved (behavior chart)
  2. Clearly defined rules about who gets special prizes (when you get 10 good ticks this will happen)
  3. Clear rules that all the children know
  4. Verbal cues during the lesson (“somebody has forgotten rules number 2!”)
  5. And rewarding in an extravagant way one or two who obeyed
  6. Being careful to remind everyone that Christ gives us something much better than tablet time.

I would love to freely give tablet time and candy to every child in Barrouallie…but I also know many times the most loving thing you can do is say “no.”

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