As we head into summer holidays, St. John’s Director for Children, Youth, and Families, Katie Madsen, encourages us, as disciples of Christ, to talk about hard topics. 

Money, Politics, and Religion. For most families these are no-go topics of conversation—things that should not be brought up around the Thanksgiving dinner table. You never know how Uncle Fred or Cousin Betsey might respond, after all.  

Growing up in my house the rules were quite different, however. Money, politics, and religion were the three things we talked about the most. My father would say, “these are three of the most important things, so why wouldn’t you talk about them?”  

Our faith as Christians should be the thing that impacts our lives the most. It should inform how we live, how we treat others, and how we spend our money. We are called from our baptismal vows to strive “for justice and peace among all people, and respect the dignity of every human being.” Oftentimes that means giving, financially and/or through service, to those in need.

Conversations about money are difficult with children. I often remember, while shopping at Target, I overheard a child ask their parents for something, saying “just take out that plastic card and get it that way.” The parent calmly tried to explain to the child that that’s not how money works, you don’t just get things when you swipe the card. I sometimes miss the days of cash when it was clear how much you could spend. 

As the parent of a tiny human myself, I want Russell to understand that as a family we give to others because we have enough, that our faith is linked to the way we spend our money as a family just as it is tied to the causes we support and the ideals we strive for.  

At St. John’s we strive to meet our community partners where they are and do what we can to support their mission. We give each month through our mustard seed offering, we support the farmers market during the summer and fall – buying local produce from the farmers themselves and raising awareness for their causes.These are the ways I want Russell to see us spend and support our faith community each and every week so that he knows where our money goes and the people we help through our giving.

Money shouldn’t be a taboo subject, especially with kids. We need to  talk openly about why we give and why it is important. The dollar amount isn’t what matters, it’s the meaning and reasoning behind the giving that is important. The idea of helping others is something we instill in our children from a young age. The Golden Rule—to treat others the way we want to be treated—goes beyond the playground. We should be showing and talking to our children about what that means and looks like as a person of faith in the world. 

Money, Politics, and Religion: if we aren’t talking about these things, what are we talking about?

Indeed, what are we talking about? As I wrote in October’s Finance First Friday post, “How will they know what was treasure and what were toys in our lives? Will they understand what was surface and what was substance in our experiences? How will they know the God who wants to walk their paths with them?” So, please, talk with your loved ones about the things that are important to you as a disciple of Christ.

Discussing money can be triggering, prompting feelings of fear or shame. Maybe that is why Jesus talked about money and possessions more than faith and prayer. Sharing our stories and God’s stories can be liberating and transformative.

As with most spiritual practices, we gain strength when we share with and support each other. To write a post, offer resources, submit an article, or do an interview for Finance First Friday blog, please contact Executive Administrator, Sarah Dull. You never know who needs to hear your story.

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