How do we foster generosity in the next generation?

In this season of giving, how do we foster generosity when so much of the modern Christmas experience through the eyes of a child is about getting? 

We talked with Joanne Graffam about raising cheerful givers. As a mother of four and grandmother of kids ranging from ages three to 14, Joanne and her husband Alan have taught their children and grandchildren to live by 2 Corinthians 9:7, proclaiming “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.”

Reflecting on her upbringing, Joanne shared how her parents taught her what it meant to give. And when she married the son of Dr. Everett Graffam, Executive Director of World Relief until his retirement in 1978, her interest in giving to World Relief was sparked through the stories Dr. Graffam frequently shared about the needs of the people in the many places he visited. Alan and Joanne have passed along these lessons to their four children through conversations at home and mission trips to Paraguay, Haiti, Dominican Republic, Russia and around the U.S. 

One simple way the Graffams foster generosity in their family is through a holiday tradition. At Thanksgiving each of their children and grandchildren chose a gift from World Relief’s Catalog of Hope.  There is much joy in seeing how each one, young and old, chose a gift that reflects their interests and what’s been laid on their heart. At Christmas, each child and grandchild will receive a card provided by World Relief that explains how the chosen gift will make an impact through World Relief’s work in the area of either health and child development, economic development, disaster response, refugee and immigration services or peace building. 

This straightforward tradition practiced by the Graffam family is rooted in the true meaning of Christmas and allows the power of generosity to be experienced on a tangible level both by both the giver and the receiver. Because of people like the Graffams over 3.5 million people across the globe have been served by World Relief in 2015. And because of younger people being intentionally shaped by the Graffams–and all of you similar parents and grandparents out there–World Relief will continue making an impact for good across the globe for years to come. 

And by the way, it’s never too late to start teaching your children or grandchildren about the power of generosity.